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State v. Hill

Supreme Court of South Carolina

July 9, 2014

The State, Respondent,
v.
Bruce Hill, Appellant

Heard February 5, 2014.

Appeal from Horry County. Appellate Case No. 2011-199807. Steven H. John, Circuit Court Judge.

Jonathan Micah Hiller, of Hiller & Hiller, PA, of Greenville, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, and Assistant Attorney General J. Anthony Mabry, all of Columbia, Solicitor Jimmy A. Richardson, II, of Conway, all for Respondent.

PLEICONES, JUSTICE. TOAL, C.J., BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 803

[409 S.C. 52] PLEICONES, JUSTICE:

Bruce Hill (Appellant) challenges two evidentiary rulings by the circuit court and argues that his rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IAD) were violated. We affirm.

FACTS

Appellant was convicted of two murders and first-degree burglary, arising from a

Page 804

home invasion and double homicide in Horry County on the night of April 11, 2005. He received concurrent life sentences for the murders and a concurrent thirty-year sentence for the burglary.

Prior to Appellant's trial, another individual, Richard Gagnon, was tried and convicted of these murders. During Gagnon's trial, the State maintained that there were two perpetrators involved, as there was blood at the scene that could not belong to either victim or to Gagnon.[1]

Four fresh blood droplets were collected from the home where the murders occurred. From these blood droplets, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) developed [409 S.C. 53] a DNA profile. The profile did not match either of the victims or Gagnon's, but SLED was able to determine the blood belonged to one person. SLED entered the profile of the unknown individual into the CODIS [2] national data base.

Approximately four years after the murders, the Horry County Police Department (HCPD) was notified in a letter from SLED of a CODIS match for the unknown individual's blood found at the crime scene.[3] The DNA matched Appellant's, who, at that time, was incarcerated in Tennessee. Appellant's DNA had been placed into the CODIS database by the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

HCPD agents travelled to Tennessee to meet with Appellant. These agents obtained a Schmerber [4] order from a Tennessee court, and performed a buccal swab [5] on Appellant for further DNA comparison. However, the investigators who obtained this order subsequently left HCPD, and the evidence of the swab was lost.

Arrest warrants were issued charging Appellant with burglary and murder. On August 26, 2010, pursuant to the IAD,[6] Appellant requested the final deposition of the charges pending against him in South Carolina. The solicitor's office and the clerk of court acknowledged receipt of Appellant's request ...


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