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State v. Dill

Supreme Court of South Carolina

June 20, 2018

The State, Respondent,
v.
James Clyde Dill Jr., Petitioner. Appellate Case No. 2016-000654

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

          Heard December 13, 2017

          Appeal from Laurens County Eugene C. Griffith Jr., Circuit Court Judge

          Appellate Defender Taylor Davis Gilliam, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Senior Assistant Attorney General David A. Spencer, both of Columbia; and Solicitor David Matthew Stumbo, of Greenwood, all for Respondent.

          JAMES JUSTICE

         James Clyde Dill Jr. was convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine, and the trial court sentenced him to a prison term of ten years. Dill appealed his conviction, and the court of appeals affirmed. State v. Dill, Op. No. 2016-UP-010 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Jan. 13, 2016). This Court granted Dill's petition for a writ of certiorari. We reverse Dill's conviction.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Laurens County Sheriff's Sergeant Justin Moody requested a local magistrate to issue a search warrant for Dill's residence. In pertinent part, Sergeant Moody's affidavit stated:

Laurens County Sheriff's Office has received information in the last 72 hours that at the above listed location an active methamphetamine lab is in operation. A confidential informant working in an undercover capacity with the Laurens County Sheriff's Office was at this location and did see numerous items that are used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

         The affidavit also included the following items as the property sought to be recovered from the residence:

Any and all items of evidentiary value to include but not limited to ephedrine based medications, lithium strips and any and all parts of lithium batteries, bottles, tubing, hydrogen peroxide, salt, cold packs and contents of such, toluene, liquid drain cleaner, and any currency, firearms, surveillance equipment electronic and otherwise, and any and all other items that could be used in the illegal manufacturing, distribution, or cultivation of illegal narcotics.

         Sergeant Moody testified at the pretrial suppression hearing before the trial court that he supplemented his affidavit with oral testimony to the magistrate, specifically that the individual who provided information to him was reliable and had been used in two prior cases in which arrests had been made. The magistrate issued the search warrant.

         Laurens County Sheriff's deputies searched Dill's residence. Including Dill, five or six individuals were inside the residence at the time of the search. Neither an active methamphetamine lab nor methamphetamine was discovered in Dill's residence. Law enforcement seized five one-pound containers of salt (some full and some partially empty), two bottles of Coleman brand camping fuel, a sixteen-ounce bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a bottle of unknown fluid, and a roll of aluminum foil.[1]Law enforcement did not discover any ephedrine-based medications (or empty blister packs of ephedrine-based medications), lithium strips or batteries, drain cleaners, cold packs, sulfuric acid, or toluene, all of which are commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Law enforcement located an empty plastic bottle near the back door of the residence. As noted below, a State's witness characterized the empty bottle as a hydrochloric acid (HCL) generator. At the conclusion of the search, law enforcement placed the seized items in buckets, took four photographs, and immediately destroyed the ...


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