Heard: June 3, 2014.
Appeal From Greenville County. C. Victor Pyle Jr., Circuit Court Judge, Robin B. Stilwell, Post-Conviction Relief Judge.
Deputy Chief Appellate Defender Wanda H. Carter, of Columbia, for Petitioner.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General Karen Christine Ratigan, both of Columbia, for Respondent.
LOCKEMY, J. KONDUROS, J., concurs. WILLIAMS, J.
[410 S.C. 261] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI
In this appeal from the denial of his post-conviction relief (PCR) application, Steve Bagwell argues the PCR court erred in finding his trial counsel was not ineffective for (1) failing to request DNA testing for blood found on glass recovered at the crime scene and (2) failing to argue a witness's testimony was admissible to show evidence of a victim's bias and motive to fabricate testimony. We reverse and grant Bagwell a new trial.
This case involved an alleged burglary at an apartment complex in Greenville County. At trial, Jarrett Armstrong testified he and
his roommate Chris Snoddy (collectively, the [410 S.C. 262] victims) were on their way home from work one night, when he received a call from a neighbor that caused them to hurry home. Armstrong testified that when they arrived, a large crowd was gathered outside their apartment. According to Armstrong, he entered the front door of the apartment and saw Bagwell, whom Armstrong had known since elementary school, exiting through the back glass patio door, which was shattered. Armstrong stated he did not see Bagwell's roommate, Daryl Spain, inside the apartment and he did not punch Daryl.
Armstrong, however, testified he confronted Bagwell outside Bagwell and Daryl's apartment and punched Bagwell in the face. According to Armstrong, Bagwell's face was scarred with " blood coming down" before Armstrong punched him. The State admitted a photograph of Bagwell taken after the burglary, which shows blood streaming down the left side of his face. On cross-examination, Daryl's counsel asked Armstrong, " This gash that [Bagwell] had on his forehead . . . isn't it true that [Bagwell] received that gash when you hit him on the forehead with a handgun?" Armstrong replied, " No, sir."
Snoddy testified he saw Daryl exiting the apartment through the glass patio door; however, he stated he did not see Bagwell inside the apartment. Snoddy further testified Armstrong and Bagwell began fighting in front of Bagwell and Daryl's apartment. Snoddy also stated Bagwell had " blood or a scratch" down his face before Armstrong punched him.
Bagwell testified in his defense. According to Bagwell, he was asleep in his apartment at the time of the burglary, and he awoke to find Armstrong " beating on [him]" and accusing Daryl of breaking into Armstrong and Snoddy's apartment. After Armstrong left his apartment, Bagwell called the police and reported that Armstrong had broken into his apartment. Bagwell testified he then looked outside and saw Armstrong beating Daryl and holding a gun to his head. [410 S.C. 263] Bagwell further explained that his face was bleeding after the incident because Armstrong attacked him.
During its closing argument, the State asserted,
Some other testimony that's important for you to remember. If you remember both [Snoddy] and [Armstrong] said that when they went over to [Bagwell]'s apartment and he was out front, when they went over there they both saw a scratch on his top eye and blood. A little blood trail coming down the side of [Bagwell's] face. Now how did he get that? How did [Bagwell] get that? How did he get this right here? How did he get this cut? One way he could have gotten this cut, ladies and gentlemen, one way is if when he ran out, ran through the glass in ...