October 19, 2016
from Laurens County W. Jeffrey Young, Circuit Court Judge
Clarence Rauch Wise and E. Charles Grose, Jr., both of
Greenwood, for Appellant.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy
Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, and Assistant Attorney
General Susannah Rawl Cole, all of Columbia; and Solicitor
David Matthew Stumbo, of Greenwood, for Respondent.
PLEICONES CHIEF JUSTICE
was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and received a life
sentence. While we affirm his conviction and sentence, we
find two of the issues he raises require
discussion. Those two issues involve the trial
judge's use of certain terms in his opening remarks to
the jury, and the content requirements of a divided closing
the jury was sworn the trial judge gave preliminary remarks.
These remarks began with a warning that a real trial was not
like television, and outlined the roles, duties, and
responsibilities of the lawyers and the jury. This was
followed by a "non-charge, " further advice about
the proper role of the jury, and an explanation of trial
procedure. During those remarks, the judge said:
This . . . trial . . . is a search for the truth in an effort
to make sure that justice is done. In searching for the truth
and ensuring that justice is done is [sic] often slow,
deliberate, and repetitive.
[The attorneys] are sworn to uphold the integrity and the
fairness of our judicial system and to help you as jurors to
search for the truth.
[Y]ou also just took an oath to listen to the evidence in
this case and reach a fair and just verdict and you are
expected to be professional, reasonable and ethical.
[Y]ou the jurors find [the facts] from the testimony from a
witness from the witness stand or any other evidence, and
after hearing that evidence you will deliberate and render a
true and just verdict under the solemn oath that you just
took as jurors.
[I]n determining what the true facts are in this case you
must decide whether or not the testimony of a ...