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State v. Jett

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

April 25, 2018

The State, Respondent,
Antwan Jamal Jett, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2015-001042

          Heard November 7, 2017

          Appeal From Florence County D. Craig Brown, Circuit Court Judge

          Appellate Defender LaNelle Cantey DuRant, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General Mark Reynolds Farthing, both of Columbia, and Solicitor Edgar Lewis Clements, III, of Florence, all for Respondent.

          SHORT, J.

         Antwan Jett appeals his convictions and sentences for burglary first degree, armed robbery, criminal conspiracy, and possession of a weapon during a crime of violence, arguing the trial court erred in admitting his recorded statement because it was obtained in violation of his Miranda[1] rights. We affirm.


         At approximately 3:30 a.m. on December 31, 2013, Michael Barr was awoken by a knock at his door. When he asked who was there, a person replied saying it was BJ, who was a friend of Barr's. When Barr opened the door, three males with their faces covered entered through the door and began assaulting him while demanding money. One male in a green hoodie had "a small Derringer, " which he pointed at Barr. Another male grabbed Barr's hunting knife from the floor. The male in a green hoodie and a third male went upstairs and entered Barr's bedroom, as well as Barr's female roommate's bedroom. Barr's roommate began screaming, and the three males ran out the back door.

         Officer William Blackmon responded to the scene and saw two males running away from Barr's house, one of whom was wearing a green hoodie. Officer Blackmon chased the suspects, but he was unable to apprehend them. While retracing the path of the chase, he found a hunting knife on the ground.

         Officer Thomas Herman arrived at the scene and observed two males running from Barr's house with Officer Blackmon in pursuit. He testified one of the males was wearing "a green or a gray hoodie." Officer Herman followed the path of the chase and found "a small caliber handgun, a small revolver style Derringer."

         Corporal Legrande Gowdy and Officer Lacey Allen both responded to the scene and began walking through the area. Officers Gowdy and Allen found a green hoodie, a gray pullover, pill bottles, and two masks that "matched the description of the one the suspect was wearing." While searching with her flashlight, Officer Allen observed someone lying underneath a vehicle that was about half a block from Barr's house. Officer Allen shouted "he's under the car, he's under the car" and drew her weapon while ordering the individual to get out from underneath the vehicle. The individual began to move from under the car but hesitated after Corporal Gowdy appeared. Corporal Gowdy instructed the individual to get out from under the car, and when the individual instead began backing up, Corporal Gowdy tased, detained, and handcuffed him. Corporal Gowdy testified the individual was wearing gloves and a t-shirt, and the temperature was in the low 30s, "which would not make sense to have gloves on and no coat and no nothing or anything." Corporal Gowdy asked him about the clothing they found, and the individual said it did not belong to him. The individual told Corporal Gowdy he had been out drinking and was tired, so he crawled up under the car to go to sleep.[2]As Corporal Gowdy read the individual his Miranda rights, the individual said "I don't know anything about a gun." Gowdy then placed the individual into a patrol vehicle and called an investigator to question him. The individual was later identified as Jett.

         Detective Felicia Jones met with Jett while he was detained in the patrol vehicle. Upon introducing herself as a police officer, Jett immediately said, "Where my lawyer at?" Detective Jones said, "I'm going to read you your rights, okay." Jett continued, "I already read my rights three times. I don't know why they reading me rights for." Detective Jones then read Jett his Miranda rights and asked Jett if he wanted to talk to her. Jett responded, "About what? About me being intoxicated? Finding me under a car? Man tase me, put a knee back of my head. What did I do? What did I do?" When Detective Jones asked Jett why he told the officer he did not have anything to do with a gun, Jett responded, "What gun?" She asked him why he was under the car, and Jett said he had been drinking and wanted to go to sleep, so he laid down. He said he did not know he was under a car. When Detective Jones asked Jett where he lived, he recited his address and said, "Anything else, ask my lawyer." Detective Jones then asked Jett if he did not want to talk to her anymore. Jett responded, "What happened?" and continued to say he did not know why he was tased. Detective Jones did not ask Jett any more questions.

         In a pretrial motion following a Jackson v. Denno[3] hearing, Jett made a motion to suppress his statement to Detective Jones as the statement was taken in violation of his Miranda rights. Jett argued his statement - Where my lawyer at? - was unambiguous, and he affirmatively asserted his right to an attorney. The State contended Jett's statement to Detective Jones was admissible because it was ambiguous. The trial court denied the motion, finding the statement to Detective Jones was ambiguous and thus, the questioning was not in violation of Jett's Miranda rights. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD ...

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