State v. Woomer, No. 21592

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtNESS; LEWIS, C. J., LITTLEJOHN and GREGORY, JJ., and WILLIAM H. BALLENGER
Citation284 S.E.2d 357,277 S.C. 170
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Ronald Raymond WOOMER, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 21592
Decision Date10 November 1981

Page 357

284 S.E.2d 357
277 S.C. 170
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Ronald Raymond WOOMER, Appellant.
No. 21592.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Nov. 10, 1981.

[277 S.C. 171] David I. Bruck and Chief Atty. John L. Sweeny of the S. C. Office of Appellate Defense, Columbia, and Auburn J. Bridge and Arthur C. Boensch, Walterboro, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod and Asst. Attys. Gen. Lindy P. Funkhouser and Brian P. Gibbes, Columbia, and Sol. Randolph Murdaugh, Hampton, for respondent.

NESS, Justice:

Appellant, Woomer was convicted for the murder of John Turner in Colleton County and sentenced to death. Based on the multiple and egregious errors committed at trial we reverse and remand as to both the guilt and sentencing proceedings.

Page 358

[277 S.C. 172] Woomer was charged, along with a co-conspirator, Skaar, with carrying out a planned scheme to rob and kill Turner. There is evidence to the effect that Woomer, after stealing Turner's coin collection and numerous suits of clothes, marched him (Turner) into a back room and killed him with a single pistol shot in the head. This killing was one of several in a series that took place the same day. The other killings occurred in Horry County, where Woomer was prosecuted in other actions. Woomer's conviction and death sentence in Horry County were remanded for a new trial of the sentencing phase in State v. Woomer, S.C., 277 S.E.2d 696 (1981).

Appellant has raised numerous exceptions to this conviction and death sentence.

First, appellant asserts his conviction should be reversed on the solicitor's improper cross examination of appellant concerning the facts of the murder itself, after the trial court had allowed the appellant to take the stand in the jury's presence for the limited purpose of establishing the voluntariness of his confession. We agree and remand for a new trial. This should have been done at an in camera hearing.

During the guilt phase of the trial, Woomer was allowed to testify solely as to the voluntariness of his confession. We know of no rule of procedure or principle of law which allows a defendant to take the stand in the presence of the jury for a limited purpose. The general rule is that once the defendant takes the stand in his own behalf, he waives any privilege against compulsory self incrimination and must answer all proper questions. State v. Gilbert & Gleaton, 273 S.C. 690, 258 S.E.2d 890 (1979); Brown v. United States, 356 U.S. 148, 78 S.Ct. 622, 2 L.Ed.2d 589, cert. den., 356 U.S. 948, 78 S.Ct. 776, 2 L.Ed.2d 822 (1958). However, this is not an issue here and we will only consider the cross examination by the solicitor as raised in the exceptions.

On cross examination, the solicitor asked, "don't you want to tell the jury exactly what happened that day?" The trial court sustained an objection to this question and the solicitor showed appellant his confession and asked, "what you told them here was the truth, wasn't it?" (Tr. 544, f. 6-21).

[277 S.C. 173] This cross examination went to the question of appellant's guilt or innocence and violated the limitation the trial court had placed on the scope of appellant's testimony. Once the trial court induced appellant to testify by limiting the scope of the testimony, Woomer had a right to rely on that assurance, and the solicitor's violation of the limited scope of cross examination was fundamentally unfair. Johnson v. U. S., 318 U.S. 189, 63 S.Ct. 549, 87 L.Ed. 704 (1943), as cited in Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610, 96 S.Ct. 2240, 49 L.Ed.2d 91 (1976).

Such a fundamental unfairness warrants reversal even though the trial court offered a curative instruction. The solicitor's violations are so prejudicial in light of these circumstances, that it would be naive to assume the court's instruction could remedy such unfairness. State v. Kennedy, 272 S.C. 231, 250 S.E.2d 338 (1...

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31 practice notes
  • State v. Copeland, No. 21808
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 10, 1982
    ...On appeal, this Court will review the alleged impropriety of argument in the context of the entire record." State v. Woomer, S.C., 284 S.E.2d 357, 359 (1981) [quoting State v. Linder, 276 S.C. 304, 278 S.E.2d 335, 339 (1981) Viewing the argument in the context of the entire record, we find ......
  • State v. McDonald, No. 64057
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 22, 1983
    ...earlier Georgia cases interpreting the state's receiving stolen property statute to require a two-party transaction. In State v. Woomer, 277 S.C. 170, 284 S.E.2d 357 (1981), the defendant stole the victim's coin collection and clothes, marched him into a back room and shot him to death. The......
  • Wood v. Stirling, C/A No. 0:12-cv-3532-DCN-PJG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • October 1, 2018
    ...and non-record facts into the jury's deliberations and undermined the jury's sense of responsibility, in violation of State v. Woomer, 284 S.E.2d 357 (S.C. 1981), and Caldwell v. Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320 (1985). In Caldwell, the United States Supreme Court held that "it is constitutionally......
  • Hopkinson v. State, No. 5733
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 27, 1983
    ...retrial, the court held that not to be double jeopardy on retrial of the sentencing phase only. Gilbert was followed in State v. Woomer, 277 S.C. 170, 284 S.E.2d 357 (1981) (appeal from retrial of the sentencing In a series of appeals in which the Supreme Court of Georgia ultimately affirme......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • State v. Copeland, No. 21808
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 10, 1982
    ...On appeal, this Court will review the alleged impropriety of argument in the context of the entire record." State v. Woomer, S.C., 284 S.E.2d 357, 359 (1981) [quoting State v. Linder, 276 S.C. 304, 278 S.E.2d 335, 339 (1981) Viewing the argument in the context of the entire record, we find ......
  • State v. McDonald, No. 64057
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 22, 1983
    ...earlier Georgia cases interpreting the state's receiving stolen property statute to require a two-party transaction. In State v. Woomer, 277 S.C. 170, 284 S.E.2d 357 (1981), the defendant stole the victim's coin collection and clothes, marched him into a back room and shot him to death. The......
  • Wood v. Stirling, C/A No. 0:12-cv-3532-DCN-PJG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • October 1, 2018
    ...and non-record facts into the jury's deliberations and undermined the jury's sense of responsibility, in violation of State v. Woomer, 284 S.E.2d 357 (S.C. 1981), and Caldwell v. Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320 (1985). In Caldwell, the United States Supreme Court held that "it is constitutionally......
  • Hopkinson v. State, No. 5733
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • May 27, 1983
    ...retrial, the court held that not to be double jeopardy on retrial of the sentencing phase only. Gilbert was followed in State v. Woomer, 277 S.C. 170, 284 S.E.2d 357 (1981) (appeal from retrial of the sentencing In a series of appeals in which the Supreme Court of Georgia ultimately affirme......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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