United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. McDonald, United States Magistrate Judge.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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
2, 2011, the petitioner filed an application for
post-conviction relief ("PCR")(C.A. #2011-CP-0395),