Heard March 4, 2015.
Appeal From Richland County. Edward B. Cottingham, Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-002027.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, Assistant Attorney General Brendon Jackson McDonald, all of Columbia, and Solicitor Jimmy A. Richardson II, of Conway, for Petitioner.
Appellate Defender Benjamin John Tripp, of Columbia, for Respondent.
CHIEF JUSTICE TOAL. PLEICONES, BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.
TOAL, CHIEF JUSTICE:
The State appeals the court of appeals' decision reversing Respondent Brittany Johnson's conviction for murder and remanding the case for a new trial. We reverse the decision of the court of appeals.
On July 2, 2008, Brittany Johnson was arrested in Darlington County by United States Marshals for the shooting death of Monica Burroughs (the victim), which occurred on June 24, 2008, in Horry County. Following her apprehension and initial incarceration in the Darlington County Detention Center, Johnson was transferred to the Conway Police Department in Horry County.
At trial, the State sought to introduce a videotaped recording of the police's interrogation of Respondent after she was arrested, and the court held a Jackson v. Denno  hearing to assess the voluntariness of the statement.
At the hearing, the State called Officer John King, who testified he and another officer interviewed Respondent at the Conway Police Department after she was arrested. King testified that the interview lasted approximately thirty minutes, and the videotape represented the extent of his interaction with Respondent. King testified that Respondent did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when she gave her statement or to suffer from any mental or physical condition that would impair her ability to understand the questions; did not request a break from questioning, either to use the restroom or make a telephone call; and did not request anything to eat or drink. Further, King testified that he neither threatened Respondent, nor made any promises to her during the interrogation.
King explained that he orally advised Respondent of her rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, and provided Respondent with an advisement of rights form that also listed the Miranda warnings. Specifically, King testified that he advised Respondent: (1) that she had a right to remain silent; (2) that anything she said could be used against her in court; (3) that she had a right to an attorney; (4) that if she could not afford an attorney, one would be provided for her prior to any questioning; and (5) that if she decided to make a statement, she had the right to stop speaking to police at any time. King testified that Respondent waived her rights orally and also by initialing and signing the form provided to her.
King further testified that he specifically asked Respondent if she desired to have an attorney present during the questioning, and Respondent replied, " no," and otherwise did not invoke her right to counsel during the interview.
Defense counsel called Respondent to testify. Contrary to King's testimony, Respondent testified that she was neither advised of her rights when she was arrested in Darlington County, nor when she was " booked" into jail at the Darlington County Detention Center, where she waited to be transferred to Horry County. However, Respondent testified that she repeatedly asked for an attorney:
Q. At any point did you ask for an attorney?
A. Yes, sir . . . . [T]he first time I asked for an attorney was . . . while I was being signed over by whoever [sic] that Marshal was . . . . that signed my paperwork.
Q. And who did you ask, the Marshal or the people who were waiting to get you?
A. The Marshal because at the time I was in, like, a partition where it's locked on both sides while he did my fingerprints and . . . . signed some ...