November 4, 2015
OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
From Richland County G. Thomas Cooper, Jr., Circuit Court
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney
General William M. Blitch, Jr., both of Columbia, for
Adcock Shealey, of The Shealey Law Firm, LLC, and Elizabeth
Fielding Pringle, both of Columbia, for Respondent.
granted the State's petition for writ of certiorari to
consider the court of appeals' decision, State v.
Manning, Op. No. 2014-UP-411 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Nov.
19, 2014), holding the trial court erred in failing to
conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the
immunity provision of the Protection of Persons and Property
Act (the Act) applied and remanding the case to the
trial court to conduct a full hearing. We reverse.
Manning (Respondent) was charged with murder following the
death of his girlfriend, Mikki McPhatter (the victim). The
victim died after being shot in the back of the head in
Respondent's home. It is undisputed that the victim was
unarmed. Another of Respondent's girlfriends, Kendra
Goodman, led police to the victim's abandoned and burned
vehicle, where her charred skeletal remains were discovered
in the trunk.
sought immunity from prosecution under Act and in the
alternative claimed he shot the victim in self-defense. At a
pre-trial hearing, Respondent's counsel relied upon
Respondent's statement to police, introduced as an
exhibit by the State, to support his immunity claim. In the
statement, Respondent maintained he had taken a gun away from
the victim during an argument, but ultimately "pulled
the trigger to show her to stop playing":
It was a disagreement between the two of us. I was
disregarding some of her questions when it came to the
relationship . . . which turned into an argument that got
heated. [The victim] picked up the firearm, pointed it at me.
I asked her what the hell was she thinking. She asked me was
I still serious, referring to whether or not I wanted to have
kids with her. I told her that it was just friends with
benefits, which made her even madder. I told her to stop
playing and took the gun from her. I grabbed her hands and
just took it from her. Then I pointed it at her and asked her
"Are you fucking crazy[.]" I told her that
"You can't be mad at me because when I came up to
see you last you were asking me if I wanted to be friends
with benefits." She was still talking about whether I
was serious. The whole time she was crying . . . even when
she was pointing the gun at me she was crying. She hit the
gun and I asked her again "Are you fucking
crazy[?]" She told me "You're just like
everybody else. You said that you were going to be there for
me and you hurt me just like everybody else." She went
to take a step like motioned toward me, but she pivot [sic]
when she did it and I pulled the trigger to show her to stop
playing. I didn't see where the bullet went.
on this statement, and considering it as an undisputed
recitation of the facts, the trial judge heard arguments on
the immunity motion from both sides. Respondent's counsel
argued the statement constituted a "prima facie"
showing, rebuttable by the State, that Respondent was
entitled to immunity under the Act because the incident
occurred in Respondent's home and the victim "pulled
a gun on [Respondent], " Respondent "then disarmed
her, and she came at him and he pulled the trigger." The
State argued that because Respondent's statement
indicated that the victim was unarmed when he shot her,
Respondent was not in fear of great bodily injury or death at
that time. Further, the State argued that the victim was a
guest in Respondent's home, and therefore, she did not
unlawfully or forcibly enter the residence, which is required
to invoke the Act's presumption of reasonable fear of
considering Respondent's statement to police and hearing
arguments from counsel for both sides, the trial court denied
Respondent's pretrial motion for immunity. The matter
then proceeded to a jury trial. Respondent was convicted of
voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to thirty years in
appealed, and the court of appeals found, inter
alia, that the trial court was required to grant
Respondent a full evidentiary hearing prior to determining
whether the immunity provision applied, and therefore the
court of appeals remanded the case for a full hearing.
See State v. Manning, Op. No. 2014-UP-411 (S.C. Ct.
App. filed Nov. 19, 2014). ...