The State v. Hill, No. 4867.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtWILLIAMS, J.
Citation394 S.C. 312,714 S.E.2d 879
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent,v.Jonathan K. HILL, Appellant.
Decision Date22 September 2011
Docket NumberNo. 4867.

394 S.C. 312
714 S.E.2d 879

The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Jonathan K. HILL, Appellant.

No. 4867.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard Feb. 8, 2011.Decided Aug. 10, 2011.Rehearing Denied Sept. 22, 2011.


[714 S.E.2d 880]

Deputy Chief Appellate Defender Wanda H. Carter, 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 Mark R. Farthing, Office of the Attorney General, all of Columbia; Solicitor William W. Wilkins, III, of Greenville, for Respondent.WILLIAMS, J.

[394 S.C. 314] Pursuant to Anders v. California1, Jonathan K. Hill (Hill) appeals his convictions for two counts of armed robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and one count of resisting arrest. 2 After review, this court ordered the parties to brief the issue of whether the circuit court erred in denying Hill's motion for a new trial after the jury mistakenly received two statements made by Hill during deliberations that were not admitted into evidence during trial. We find the circuit court erred and accordingly reverse.

FACTS

On the evening of January 31, 2002, and the early morning hours of February 1, 2002, the La Quinta Inn and the Hampton Inn (the

[714 S.E.2d 881]

motels) were both robbed in Greenville County. Hill and his co-conspirators, Damian Taylor (Taylor) and Melvin Warren (Warren), were arrested after fleeing from police pursuit. A grand jury indicted Hill for two counts of armed robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and one count of resisting arrest. Taylor and Warren pled guilty and agreed to testify against Hill in exchange for a deal on pending charges.

Hill proceeded to trial from February 3–5, 2003. At a pre-trial Jackson v. Denno3 hearing, the State admitted two [394 S.C. 315] written statements made by Hill to the Simpsonville Police Department and the Greenville County Sheriff's Office. In his statements, Hill admitted to being a passenger in a Ford Escort (the vehicle) that was used to commit the armed robberies. Hill explained he lived in the same neighborhood as Taylor and Warren and knew they had a reputation for committing robberies. Hill also indicated Taylor and Warren wanted him to ride with them and to “work with them.” Hill stated he remained in the vehicle while Taylor and Warren went inside the motels.

The circuit court held Hill's written statements were voluntarily given at the Jackson v. Denno hearing. However, the State did not offer Hill's statements into evidence at trial.

The State presented several witnesses during its case-in-chief. Marvin Somarriba, an employee of the La Quinta Inn, testified he heard a “noise at the door” and “two guys running” on the evening of January 31, 2002. Somarriba testified that one of the robbers placed a gun against his head and took $30 and credit cards from his wallet, and that the other robber took approximately $120 from the cash drawer. Furthermore, Somarriba stated the robbers wore dark clothing and dark ski masks.

Rangar Borei, an employee of the Hampton Inn, testified two men wearing dark ski masks and dark clothing entered the Hampton Inn during the early morning hours of February 1, 2002. Borei stated one of the robbers placed a gun against his nose. The robbers took approximately $178 from the cash drawer as well as Borei's wallet, which contained $15, credit cards, and Borei's driver's license and Social Security card.

Officer William Kennedy of the Mauldin Police Department was on patrol when he heard a robbery had occurred over the Simpsonville Police Department's scanner. Subsequently, Officer Kennedy observed the vehicle speeding with its bright headlights on, prompting him to activate his blue lights and follow the vehicle to a Bi–Lo parking lot. Officer Kennedy stated the vehicle did not completely stop, the occupants in the vehicle were “rummaging around,” and the occupant in the rear seat of the vehicle appeared to be wearing a red shirt. Shortly after the vehicle entered the parking lot, Officer Kennedy stated the vehicle accelerated “very fast” and made a [394 S.C. 316] left turn onto West Butler Road. At this point, Officer Kennedy pursued the vehicle. During the pursuit, the vehicle “slid off” into a dirt area, and the three occupants exited the vehicle and ran into the woods. Officer Kennedy identified Taylor as the driver of the vehicle and Warren as the front passenger and further indicated that Taylor and Warren were wearing dark clothing.

Officer Brian Lewis of the Mauldin Police Department assisted Officer Kennedy in the police chase. He testified that Taylor, the driver of the vehicle, and the vehicle's front passenger were wearing dark clothing; whereas, the passenger in the rear seat was wearing a red shirt. However, Officer Lewis testified Taylor was wearing black baggy pants and no shirt when he was captured. Officer Harold Harris of the Greenville County Sherriff's Office arrested Warren and testified that Warren had a black ski mask, Borei's wallet, driver's license, and credit cards in his pockets.

In addition, Officer Robert Smith of the Greenville County Sheriff's Office testified his canine tracked Hill to a creek bed. In the process of tracking Hill, Officer Smith discovered a white t-shirt that appeared to be covered in blood, a black tennis shoe, and a New York Yankees hat. Smith noted Hill was wearing a red t-shirt while hiding in the

[714 S.E.2d 882]

creek bed and that “a wad of unfolded loose cash” was retrieved after Hill was searched. On cross-examination, Officer Smith indicated that Hill did not have a black ski mask in his possession after he was arrested.

Officer Ralph Bobo of the Simpsonville Police Department testified he took photographs of the contents inside the vehicle, which included a black coat and a white shirt located in the rear seat. Officer Bobo also stated that he took photographs of the ski mask and Borei's wallet that were found on Warren after his arrest. Officer Bobby Alexander of the Greenville County Sheriff's Office conducted an inventory search of the vehicle. Officer Alexander noted that a black hooded leather coat, a gray fleece sweatshirt, a football jersey, and a dark colored ski mask were located in the back seat of the vehicle.

Co-conspirators Taylor and Warren testified on behalf of the State. Taylor stated that he drove the vehicle and that [394 S.C. 317] Hill and Warren agreed to ride to a drug area with the intention of robbing a drug dealer; however, they were unsuccessful. At this point, Taylor stated they changed their plans and agreed to go to the La Quinta Inn with the intent of robbing the motel. 4 Taylor testified he remained in the vehicle while Hill and Warren robbed the motels. During cross-examination, Hill questioned Taylor regarding his written police statement in which Taylor indicated that Hill was unaware of the armed robbery plan and thought they were just riding around. Taylor clarified his statement and claimed he told Hill about the robbery plans after Hill entered the vehicle. According to Warren, Hill agreed to participate in the robbing of the motels. Warren stated Hill accompanied him inside both of the motels and participated in the robberies while Taylor remained in the vehicle. Warren also testified he took off his black coat while in the woods and that Hill wore the black coat that was located in the rear seat of the vehicle. On cross-examination, Warren admitted he lied in his police statement when he told the police that he remained in the vehicle while Taylor and Hill robbed the motels. Both Taylor and Warren testified Hill wore a black ski mask and gloves.

After the State's case-in-chief, Hill testified in his own defense. Hill stated he agreed to ride with Taylor and Warren on the belief that they were going to a party and to meet some girls. According to Hill, Taylor parked the car by the La Quinta Inn. Hill stated Taylor and Warren subsequently entered the La Quinta Inn. Soon thereafter, Taylor and Warren returned to the vehicle, and Warren came back with a credit card. After leaving the La Quinta Inn, Hill testified they went to a mall, and Warren unsuccessfully attempted to purchase clothing and jewelry with the credit card stolen from the La Quinta Inn. After leaving the mall, Warren drove to a gas station and purchased gas and beer. Upon leaving the gas station, Hill claimed Taylor parked near a wooden fence and informed him that he and Warren “would be back.” Again, Hill asserted he remained in the vehicle and Taylor and Warren returned approximately four to five minutes later. Hill also claimed he did not observe Taylor and Warren with any ski masks or weapons upon exiting the vehicle. During [394 S.C. 318] his testimony, Hill averred he did not agree to commit nor have any knowledge of the robbery plans. Hill stated Taylor and Warren threw clothes in the rear seat and he remembered seeing a black coat in the vehicle that belonged to Warren; however, Hill denied observing any ski masks in the rear seat. Hill also indicated that Taylor and Warren did not tell him about the robberies, and he was only aware that the police were pursuing the vehicle. However, Hill acknowledged on cross-examination that he was aware Taylor and Warren had committed robberies in the past, but repeatedly denied having knowledge about their plans to rob the motels.

The jury found Hill guilty of two counts of armed robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and one count of resisting arrest. The circuit court sentenced Hill to concurrent sentences of thirty years, five years, and five years, respectively.

[714 S.E.2d 883]

After the jury was dismissed and Hill was sentenced, the circuit court judge went into the jury room to speak with the jurors. According to the circuit court judge, the foreman informed him that Hill's written statements were submitted to the jury during...

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5 practice notes
  • Witherspoon v. Stonebreaker, 19-7276
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 8, 2022
    ...to a jury during its deliberations unfairly prejudices the defendant, oftentimes entitling him to a new trial. See, e.g., State v. Hill , 394 S.C. 312, 714 S.E.2d 879, 886, 888 (S.C. Ct. App. 2011). Ultimately, at 6:50 p.m. that evening, the jury indicated that it was unable to arrive at a ......
  • Witherspoon v. Stonebreaker, 19-7276
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 8, 2022
    ...to a jury during its deliberations unfairly prejudices the defendant, oftentimes entitling him to a new trial. See, e.g., State v. Hill, 714 S.E.2d 879, 886, 888 (S.C. Ct. App. 2011). Ultimately, at 6:50 p.m. that evening, the jury indicated that it was unable to arrive at a unanimous decis......
  • State v. Wright, 2014-UP-091
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 5, 2014
    ...should be free from all extraneous or improper influences." State v. Kelly, 331 S.C. 132, 141, 502 S.E.2d 99, 104 (1998); State v. Hill, 394 S.C. 312, 320, 714 S.E.2d 879, 883 (Ct. App. 2011). The determination of whether to dismiss a juror and replace him with an alternate is within the so......
  • State v. Wright, Appellate Case No. 2011-202547
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 5, 2014
    ...should be free from all extraneous or improper influences." State v. Kelly, 331 S.C. 132, 141, 502 S.E.2d 99, 104 (1998); State v. Hill, 394 S.C. 312, 320, 714 S.E.2d 879, 883 (Ct. App. 2011). The determination of whether to dismiss a juror and replace him withPage 5an alternate is within t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Witherspoon v. Stonebreaker, 19-7276
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 8, 2022
    ...to a jury during its deliberations unfairly prejudices the defendant, oftentimes entitling him to a new trial. See, e.g., State v. Hill , 394 S.C. 312, 714 S.E.2d 879, 886, 888 (S.C. Ct. App. 2011). Ultimately, at 6:50 p.m. that evening, the jury indicated that it was unable to arrive at a ......
  • Witherspoon v. Stonebreaker, 19-7276
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 8, 2022
    ...to a jury during its deliberations unfairly prejudices the defendant, oftentimes entitling him to a new trial. See, e.g., State v. Hill, 714 S.E.2d 879, 886, 888 (S.C. Ct. App. 2011). Ultimately, at 6:50 p.m. that evening, the jury indicated that it was unable to arrive at a unanimous decis......
  • State v. Wright, 2014-UP-091
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 5, 2014
    ...should be free from all extraneous or improper influences." State v. Kelly, 331 S.C. 132, 141, 502 S.E.2d 99, 104 (1998); State v. Hill, 394 S.C. 312, 320, 714 S.E.2d 879, 883 (Ct. App. 2011). The determination of whether to dismiss a juror and replace him with an alternate is within the so......
  • State v. Wright, Appellate Case No. 2011-202547
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 5, 2014
    ...should be free from all extraneous or improper influences." State v. Kelly, 331 S.C. 132, 141, 502 S.E.2d 99, 104 (1998); State v. Hill, 394 S.C. 312, 320, 714 S.E.2d 879, 883 (Ct. App. 2011). The determination of whether to dismiss a juror and replace him withPage 5an alternate is within t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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