The State v. Boswell

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation707 S.E.2d 265,391 S.C. 592
Docket NumberNo. 26941.,26941.
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent,v.Robert A. BOSWELL, Appellant.
Decision Date08 April 2011

391 S.C. 592
707 S.E.2d 265

The STATE, Respondent,
Robert A. BOSWELL, Appellant.

No. 26941.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard Jan. 19, 2011.Decided March 14, 2011.Rehearing Denied April 8, 2011.

[707 S.E.2d 265]

David I. Bruck, of Columbia, for Appellant.Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott and Assistant Attorney General William M. Blitch, Jr., of Columbia, and Solicitor Donald V. Myers, of Lexington, for Respondent.Justice BEATTY.

[391 S.C. 594] After a jury convicted Robert Boswell of first-degree burglary, the circuit court sentenced him to life imprisonment without the

[707 S.E.2d 266]

possibility of parole (LWOP).1 Following the denial of his motions for a new trial and reconsideration of his sentence, Boswell appealed his conviction and sentence on the grounds the circuit court erred in: (1) declining to suppress his confessions as they were the direct result of an unlawful arrest by officers acting outside their territorial jurisdiction; and (2) imposing an LWOP sentence as it constituted an abuse of discretion and violated state and federal protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Because we find the arrest of Boswell was unlawful, we reverse and remand.

I. Factual/Procedural Background

At approximately 6:15 p.m. on August 10, 2001, Amy Westbury left her Lexington County home to go to work. When she returned home the next morning around 11:00 a.m., Westbury discovered that someone had broken into her home through a bedroom window. Westbury's review of the home revealed that only items belonging to her and not her husband had been taken. Specifically, Westbury noticed the following items were missing: several dresses, a sequined gown, a taffeta gown, several pairs of shoes, workout leotards, undergarments, a couple of children's dresses, a bottle of perfume, makeup, jewelry, and a pillowcase from the master bedroom.

Shortly after discovering the break-in, the Westburys contacted the Lexington County Sheriff's Department. During the course of the investigation, Captain Joe Quig followed up on “a lead out of Calhoun County.” According to Captain [391 S.C. 595] Quig, he received information that some of the stolen items may have been deposited in an abandoned house located off “a frontage road on I–26 right inside of Calhoun County, right outside of Lexington County.”

On August 24, 2001, Captain Quig decided to investigate the abandoned house. Prior to entering Calhoun County, Quig contacted the Calhoun County Sheriff's Department and spoke with Sheriff Summers regarding the alleged stolen property. According to Quig, “the Sheriff said help myself, go ahead and take a look at the house; and that if I found anything that didn't belong to us, he wanted me to catalog it and turn it into the Calhoun County Sheriff's Department for processing for possibly being a stolen item out of their area or their jurisdiction.”

When Captain Quig and other Lexington County officers investigated the outside of the house and looked through the windows, they saw “female clothes” and “pornographic magazines on the floor and things like that.” Because he believed some of the items may have belonged to Amy Westbury, Captain Quig procured a search warrant for the house.

As a result of their discovery, Captain Quig and other Lexington County officers, including Lieutenant Henry Dukes, set up surveillance of the abandoned house on August 24 and 25, 2001. Captain Quig claimed he had “cleared” the surveillance operation with Sheriff Summers. Quig testified that “[t]heir edict to us was ‘Fine, have at it. We can't help you with it. If you find anything or anything comes up, call us.’ ”

On the second night of the surveillance operation, Lieutenant Dukes made radio contact with the Calhoun County Sheriff's Department. In response to the call, Sheriff Summers and several of his deputies came to the surveillance location. Lieutenant Dukes then discussed the operation with Sheriff Summers and requested that a Calhoun County officer remain at the location. According to Lieutenant Dukes, Sheriff Summers stated, “It looks like you are doing a fine job. You have got everything under control as far as I'm concerned.” Sheriff Summers also did not believe it was necessary for a Calhoun County officer to remain with Lieutenant Dukes but assured him that he would return if assistance was needed.

[707 S.E.2d 267 , 391 S.C. 596]

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on August 25, 2001, a man drove up to the abandoned house. Lieutenant Dukes observed the man, who was later identified as Boswell, stop the vehicle and turn off all the lights except for the interior light. As Lieutenant Dukes approached the vehicle, he saw Boswell “bringing different items out of the vehicle and chunking them into the woods.” When he turned his flashlight on Boswell, Lieutenant Dukes observed Boswell “with his pants down around his ankles. He had something in his hand wrapped around his penis, and he was masturbating as he was throwing things out of the vehicle into the hedgerow and also onto the ground.” After Lieutenant Dukes identified himself, he directed Boswell to stop what he was doing and put his hands where the officer could see them. Boswell ignored the command and continued to reach into the vehicle and throw out items, including a knife and a crowbar. As a result, the officers threw Boswell to the ground, handcuffed him, and placed him in investigative detention. Lieutenant Dukes then ascertained Boswell's identity, read him his Miranda2 rights, and placed him in a Lexington County patrol car to await the arrival of Captain Quig. Lieutenant Dukes explained that Boswell was detained for “ [b]eing at the location nude, masturbating, also throwing weapons, and not following law enforcement that was fully identified.”

Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Dukes contacted Sheriff Summers and Captain Quig. When Captain Quig arrived, he spoke to the Lexington County officers as well as Sheriff Summers and two Calhoun County deputies.

The officers' subsequent search of Boswell's vehicle revealed what one officer described as burglary tools, which included a pair of gloves, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a flashlight. The vehicle also contained “gym bags” that had “various clothing items.”

After speaking with Sheriff Summers, Captain Quig “determined that we had more [than] probable cause to arrest [Boswell] with the burglary tools and the things that were in that field that he had thrown out on the ground.” He then transported Boswell to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.

[391 S.C. 597] On August 26, 2001, Boswell gave a recorded statement in which he confessed to the burglary. On August 28, 2001, Captain Quig had Boswell review the transcribed statement and check it for accuracy. That same day, Boswell agreed to give another statement. This statement, however, was given while Boswell rode with Captain Quig in a patrol vehicle. According to the text of the statement, Boswell directed Captain Quig to drive to the Westburys' home. When they arrived, Boswell again confessed to burglarizing the Westburys' home.

Subsequently, a Lexington County grand jury indicted Boswell for first-degree burglary on the ground that the entry into the Westbury home occurred in the nighttime.

Prior to trial and throughout the trial, Boswell's counsel sought to suppress Boswell's confessions to Captain Quig on the ground that they were the products of an unlawful arrest made without legal authority by Lexington County law enforcement officers acting outside their territorial jurisdiction. In response, the State offered evidence of a 1999 “multi-jurisdictional agreement” entered into between the Calhoun County and Lexington County Sheriffs' Departments that purported to confer the authority of officers to arrest in the other county's jurisdiction.

In a pre-trial ruling, the trial judge denied Boswell's counsel's motion. Specifically, he found that “the Lexington County deputies did act consistently with the standard required by the statute.” Throughout the trial, the judge reiterated this ruling each time Boswell's counsel interjected an objection.

Following the denial of its motion for a directed verdict, the defense presented Boswell as its sole witness. Although Boswell admitted to committing the burglary, he testified it occurred during the daytime and not the nighttime as stated in his confessions. In explaining this discrepancy, Boswell testified that he was “confused” because he was not taking his medication for bipolar disorder

[707 S.E.2d 268]

and he was “coming off” the Valium that he had taken prior to his arrest. Boswell also believed he committed the burglary because he was not taking his medication for bipolar disorder. He claimed he had not taken the medication for approximately one year before the August 2001 burglary.

[391 S.C. 598] Ultimately, the jury convicted Boswell of first-degree burglary. The trial judge sentenced Boswell to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In a post-trial motion, Boswell's counsel moved for a new trial on the ground that Boswell's arrest was unlawful and any evidence obtained as the result of the arrest was inadmissible. Additionally, counsel requested the trial judge reconsider the life sentence.

By order dated May 12, 2008, Circuit Court Judge James Johnson 3 denied Boswell's motions for a new trial and reconsideration of his sentence. Subsequently, Boswell appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeals. This Court certified the appeal pursuant to Rule 204(b), SCACR.

II. Discussion

Boswell contends the trial judge erred in declining to suppress his confessions to Captain Quig as they were the product of an unlawful arrest by the Lexington County officers acting outside their territorial jurisdiction. In support of this contention, Boswell asserts that neither the 1999 multi-jurisdictional agreement nor...

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7 cases
  • State v. Burgess
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 2, 2014
    ...Town Council gave him the authority to enter into the agreement. Id. Additionally, the court distinguished the case from State v. Boswell, 391 S.C. 592, 707 S.E.2d 265 (2011), which was decided by this Court during the pendency of Burgess's appeal.6 The Court of Appeals found Boswell inappo......
  • State v. McKerley, 4957.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 21, 2012
    ...appeal. In light of our decision to reverse and remand based on Smith's testimony, we do not address those issues. See State v. Boswell, 391 S.C. 592, 606 n. 12, 707 S.E.2d 265, 272 n. 12 (2011) (declining [397 S.C. 468]to address other issues when decision on prior issue was dispositive of......
  • State v. McKerley, Opinion No. 4957
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 28, 2012
    ...appeal. In light of our decision to reverse and remand based on Smith's testimony, we do not address those issues. See State v. Boswell, 391 S.C. 592, 606 n.12, 707 S.E.2d 265, 272 n.12 (2011) (declining to address other issues when decision on prior issue was dispositive of appeal).VI. Con......
  • The State v. Burgess, 4823.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 20, 2011
    ...before its execution, and the council gave him the authority to enter into it. The supreme court's recent opinion in State v. Boswell, 391 S.C. 592, 707 S.E.2d 265 (2011), does not change this analysis. In Boswell, the court applied section 23–20–50(A) of the South Carolina Code (2007) to a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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