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Williams v. Bush

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

December 1, 2017

Marvin Lee Williams, Petitioner,
Warden Dennis Bush, Respondent.


          Kevin F. McDonald, United States Magistrate Judge.

         The petitioner, a state prisoner who is represented by counsel, seeks habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review post-trial petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.


         The petitioner is currently incarcerated at Broad River Correctional Institution in the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC") (doc. 1 at 1). The petitioner was indicted by the Colleton County Grand Jury in June 2008 for two counts of Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill ("ABWIK"); two counts of Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of a Violent Crime; seven counts of Assault with Intent to Kill ("AWIK"); Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature ("ABHAN"); Pointing and Presenting a Firearm; Grand Larceny; and Failure to Stop for a Blue Light. The petitioner was represented on the charges by Byron E. Gipson.

         On March 31, 2009, a competency hearing was held pursuant to State v. Blair, 273S.E.2d 536 (S.C. 1981). The petitioner was found competent to stand trial. After a jury was selected, the petitioner pled guilty to ABWIK (2 counts), AWIK (7 counts), Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of a Violent Crime (2 counts), ABHAN, and Pointing and Presenting a Firearm before the Honorable Perry M. Buckner, Circuit Court Judge. In exchange for the pleas of guilty to the above charges, the State agreed to dismiss the charges of Grand Larceny and Failure to Stop for a Blue Light. On the same date, the petitioner was sentenced by Judge Buckner to 38 years in prison on all of the above charges.

         Underlying Case Facts[1]

         On February 21, 2008, at approximately 12:30 p.m., the petitioner was in the home of his girlfriend Levonda Sharpe in Colleton County. The petitioner and his girlfriend began to argue. At some point during the argument, the petitioner assaulted Ms. Sharpe by striking her with his hands. He then choked her to the point that she defecated on herself. This was all done in the view of Levonda's mother, Tawana Sharpe.

         Subsequently, the petitioner's brother, David Williams, arrived at the residence. He had given the petitioner a ride to the residence earlier. After the petitioner's brother entered the residence, the petitioner pulled a gun and pointed it at his brother and fired. The petitioner then fired the gun at Tawana Sharpe, striking Lavonda Sharpe in the face and arm. The petitioner then left the residence. Lavonda Sharpe left the residence running into the woods. The petitioner fired shots after Lavonda Sharpe as she fled.

         The petitioner got into his brother's car, and they attempted to leave the residence. Someone had already called 911. Sgt. Jackie Lawson with the Colleton County Sheriff's Office responded and blocked the vehicle in so the Williams brothers could not leave the area. Upon seeing Sgt. Lawson, the petitioner took the gun he used to shoot Lavonda Sharpe and placed it in the front passenger floorboard of the car. Sgt. Lawson approached the petitioner, who was in the passenger seat. He told the petitioner several times to "show him his hands." The petitioner refused. After about a minute or two, Sgt. Lawson holstered his firearm, pulled out his handcuffs, and attempted to get the petitioner out of the vehicle.

         At that time, the petitioner got out of the car with the gun he had used earlier and shot Sgt. Lawson who fell to the ground. The petitioner attempted to kill Sgt. Lawson by re-racking his gun several times, but he could not get the gun to fire. Eventually, he fired one more shot at Sgt. Lawson. Sgt. Lawson stated: "You got a chance to get away, get away." This incident was recorded on Sgt. Lawson's car video camera.

         The petitioner then pointed the gun at his brother trying to get his brother to drive him away from the scene. His brother refused. The petitioner then stole Sgt. Lawson's vehicle and drove away, reaching speeds of 140 miles per hour. He was pursued by the police in a high speed chase that ended at the petitioner's family's home where he barricaded himself inside. Numerous sheriff's deputies, Walterboro Police Department officers, and Department of Natural Resources officers responded to the home. They went up on the porch of the home. One officer had obtained a key to the residence, and when he opened the door, the petitioner leveled a shotgun at the officers and fired. The officers dove off the front porch, ran for cover, and returned fire. The petitioner fired multiple shots at law enforcement with a shotgun from inside the house. The petitioner was shot in the legs. Portions of this incident were also recorded on video.

         Subsequently, at the end of a standoff, the petitioner surrendered and was brought out of the house. He was arrested and taken to the hospital for treatment of his leg wounds (app. 121-49).

         Direct Appeal

         On April 19, 2010, the petitioner appealed his convictions to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Lanelle C. Durant of the South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense represented the petitioner. Appellate counsel raised the following issue:

Did the trial court err in refusing to grant a continuance in order for appellant to undergo second evaluation by a forensic psychiatrist because the issue of competency had not been resolved thereby rendering appellant's guilty plea involuntary?

         (Doc. 7-3 at 3). The State filed a responsive brief. On April 12, 2011, the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the petitioner's convictions and sentences in an unpublished opinion (doc. 7-5). The Remittitur was issued on May 17, 2011 (doc. 7-6).


         On May 2, 2011, the petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief ("PCR")(C.A. #2011-CP-0395), ...

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