Heard December 10, 2013
Appeal From Richland County G. Thomas Cooper Jr., Circuit Court Judge
Luke A. Shealey, of The Shealey Law Firm, LLC, and Chief Public Defender E. Fielding Pringle, both of Columbia, for Appellant.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General William M. Blitch Jr., both of Columbia, for Respondent.
This appeal arises from Theodore Manning's voluntary manslaughter conviction. On appeal, Manning argues the trial court erred by: (1) refusing to exclude a photograph of the victim; (2) refusing to suppress a search warrant; (3) refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing on whether Manning was entitled to immunity under section 16-11-410 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2013), the "Protection of Persons and Property Act" (the Act); and (4) refusing to give a jury charge on the Castle Doctrine. We affirm.
Manning was charged with the murder of Nikki McPhatter. Manning admitted to killing McPhatter in his residence on May 6, 2009; however, Manning maintained throughout trial McPhatter pulled a gun on him and tried to attack him. Prior to trial, the trial court heard Manning's motion regarding immunity under the Act. Manning requested an evidentiary hearing and argued he was entitled to immunity from prosecution under the Act. Manning attached his second statement to the police to his written motion. In the statement, Manning explained that he and McPhatter were in a heated argument about their relationship at Manning's residence. According to the statement, McPhatter wanted a serious relationship and Manning did not. Manning reported McPhatter pointed the gun at him; he took the gun from her; and then he pointed the gun at her. The statement provides McPhatter took a step towards Manning and he "pulled the trigger to show her to stop playing." Manning explained that after he shot, he thought McPhatter fainted until he realized she had no pulse. The trial court read Manning's statement and asked both parties questions about the facts of the case and whether the facts triggered immunity under the Act. In support of immunity, Manning argued even though McPhatter was an invited social guest, she "transformed" to a trespasser when she acted unlawfully. The trial court denied Manning's motion for immunity, finding the Act inapplicable to Manning's case. At the close of Manning's case, he renewed his request for an immunity hearing on the basis he was "not given the opportunity to argue the Castle Doctrine."
At trial, Manning testified that on May 6, 2009, McPhatter drove from Charlotte to visit him in Columbia. According to Manning, McPhatter began walking around the house, and when Manning found McPhatter in his daughter's room, they started to argue about their relationship. Manning testified he left his daughter's room to get a shirt, and when he returned, McPhatter was standing in the doorway with her hands behind her back. Manning stated he and McPhatter continued to argue and McPhatter "pulled a gun out from behind her back and pointed it at me." Manning testified he was scared for his life and McPhatter "just pointed the gun at me. I could see the gun . . . going up and down." According to Manning, he grabbed the gun and wrestled it away from McPhatter. Manning explained he pointed the gun at McPhatter, told her to leave, and "screamed at her to get out." Manning testified that when he pulled the trigger, McPhatter was coming towards him and he thought she was reaching for the gun. After he shot the gun, Manning explained he did not see any blood or where the bullet went. Manning realized McPhatter had no pulse when he tried to wake her up. Kelly Fite testified after Manning as an expert in crime scene reconstruction, firearms, and ballistics and corroborated Manning's testimony.
At the jury instruction conference, Manning requested a Castle Doctrine charge. Manning also submitted written jury instructions requesting a defense of habitation charge. The trial court charged the jury with murder, voluntary manslaughter, self-defense, and the common law Castle Doctrine. The jury found Manning guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Manning was sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment. This appeal followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
"In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors of law only." State v. Baccus, 367 S.C. 41, 48, 625 S.E.2d 216, 220 (2006). "This Court is bound by the trial court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous." Id.
Manning argues the trial court committed reversible error by refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing on whether he was entitled to immunity ...