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State v. Porch

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

August 3, 2016

The State, Respondent,
Joshua William Porch, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2013-002531

          Heard May 3, 2016

         Appeal From Richland County Alison Renee Lee, Circuit Court Judge

          Michael J. Anzelmo and Matthew A. Abee, both of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, of Columbia; and Chief Appellate Defender Robert Michael Dudek, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, Assistant Attorney General J. Anthony Mabry, and Solicitor Daniel Edward Johnson, all of Columbia, for Respondent.


          HUFF, J.

         Joshua William Porch appeals his conviction for murder, arguing the trial court erred in failing to void the State's arrest warrant pursuant to Franks v. Delaware.[1] Porch also argues the trial court erred by limiting Porch's testimony in violation of the Confrontation Clause. We affirm.


         In the early morning hours of May 13, 2006, Justin Mallory (Mallory) found his wife, Nikea Mallory (Victim), dead in the family's apartment in Richland County. Victim suffered blunt force trauma to the head, a bruise on her neck, a stab wound on the right side of her neck, and a stab wound on her right eyebrow. The stab wound to Victim's neck was the fatal injury. Hours after discovering Victim's body, Mallory was charged with Victim's murder.

         During the murder investigation, Mallory told officers they should talk to Joshua Porch, who lived near Mallory. Investigator Randy Strange interviewed Porch and his wife. Porch told Investigator Strange he was not in the Victim's apartment the night of the murder.

         Police interviewed Porch again on June 27, 2007, after they discovered unidentified male DNA at the crime scene. Porch agreed to provide officers with a DNA sample and told them that he was in the Victim's apartment the day before the murder. Porch stated he cut himself while he was peeling or cutting an apple for his child and he attempted to clean up the blood with paper towels in the kitchen. Porch then signed a written statement of his version of events. In that statement, Porch also indicated he told this version of events to the investigators that interviewed him after the murder.

         Following the second interview, Major James Smith contacted Investigator Strange to confirm Porch's story. Investigator Strange told Major Smith he could not recall Porch telling him he cut himself in the Victim's apartment the day before the murder. Major Smith returned to Porch's home that same day and asked Porch about his story. Porch told Major Smith he could not recall whether he told Investigator Strange about the cut. Porch stated he was scared to tell the police about the cut because he did not want to be considered a suspect.

         On July 2, 2007, Captain James White and Major Smith interviewed Porch again. Porch told the officers he was present at Victim's apartment during the early morning hours of May 13, 2006. Porch stated he and Victim were drinking together that night and started kissing and fondling one another. According to Porch, Mallory arrived at the apartment and became angry. Mallory and Victim started arguing in front of Porch but later went to the kitchen to continue arguing. Porch stated he saw Victim push Mallory and Mallory "swung at her" with an unidentified item in his hand. Porch told the officers he stepped in between Mallory and the Victim to stop them from fighting and Mallory cut him. Porch then went to the kitchen to wrap his hand with paper towels and clean up the blood. According to Porch, Victim was "slouched" on the couch when he left, but he did not think she was badly injured. Porch explained he made inconsistent statements to police because he "was afraid [he] would be charged as an accomplice, or accused of actually doing it. [He] was also afraid [his] wife would find out about [him] and [Victim] getting involved that morning." During the interview, Captain White noticed Porch was left handed.

         Mallory was tried twice for Victim's murder. Porch testified consistent with his July 2, 2007 statement in each of those proceedings. The first trial ended in a hung jury. Mallory then elected to proceed to a bench trial and was acquitted. Following his acquittal, Mallory contacted the Richland County Sheriff's Department (RCSD) and requested they reopen the investigation into his wife's murder. Deputy Chief David Wilson was assigned to investigate the case. Chief Wilson reviewed the investigation file and noticed several inconsistencies. Chief Wilson was bothered by Porch's shifting statements to police. Chief Wilson noted the stab wounds were to the Victim's right side, which led him to suspect the assailant was left-handed. Chief Wilson learned Porch was left-handed. Finally, Chief Wilson reviewed DNA evidence from the crime scene, which revealed further inconsistencies relating to Porch's version of events. Specifically, investigators found Porch's blood not only in the kitchen, but also on Victim's shirt.

         Chief Wilson interviewed several other witnesses and secured a warrant for Porch's arrest. Officers learned Porch had moved from South Carolina back to his home town in California. On July 8, 2009, RCSD officers arrested Porch in a store in California and transported him to the Long Beach Police Department for questioning. Investigators Shawn McDaniel and Brian Godfrey notified Porch of his Miranda rights around 1:00 a.m. on July 9, 2009. That morning, Porch admitted he stabbed Victim but claimed it was an accident.

         Investigators McDaniel and Godfrey reviewed the case file to determine if the evidence supported Porch's accident claim. The investigators then interviewed Porch again on July 10, 2009. At that time, Porch told the investigators he initiated intimate contact with Victim and she attacked him with the knife. Porch told officers he hit ...

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