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State v. King

Supreme Court of South Carolina

July 18, 2018

The State, Petitioner,
v.
Tyrone J. King, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2016-001161

          Heard November 15, 2017

          Appeal from Marlboro County Edward B. Cottingham, Circuit Court Judge

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General Alphonso Simon Jr., both of Columbia and Solicitor William B. Rogers, Jr., of Bennettsville, for Petitioner.

          Howard W. Anderson III, of Pendleton; and Chief Appellate Defender Robert Michael Dudek, of Columbia, for Respondent.

          JAMES JUSTICE

         Tyrone J. King was convicted of murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, third-degree assault and battery, and pointing and presenting a firearm. The trial court sentenced King to life imprisonment for murder, a consecutive five year term for possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, and thirty days for third-degree assault and battery.[1] King appealed his murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime convictions, and the court of appeals remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a full Rule 404(b), SCRE, analysis regarding the trial court's admission of certain other bad act evidence. State v. King, 416 S.C. 92, 784 S.E.2d 252 (Ct. App. 2016). We granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision. We vacate the court of appeals' decision to remand the case for a Rule 404(b) analysis, we reverse King's convictions for murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and we remand the matter to the trial court for a new trial on those two charges. King's convictions for pointing and presenting a firearm and third-degree assault and battery are unaffected by our holding, as King does not challenge those convictions.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         King shot and killed his neighbor James Galloway (Victim) inside Victim's home during the early morning hours of November 11, 2011. The State contends King then pistol-whipped Karen Galloway (Wife) and pointed the gun at both Wife and Reggie Cousar (Cousin). King fled the scene when a Marlboro County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) deputy arrived. Following a foot chase, King was found hiding under a truck. MCSO recovered Victim's house phone at the scene where King was apprehended and retrieved a bottle of liquor from King's pocket. MCSO recovered a nine-millimeter handgun with an extended magazine from the wooded area behind King's home. MCSO also found a cartridge casing and a bullet hole in Victim's master bedroom and recovered a cartridge casing and a projectile from Victim's living room. The State claims the shooting was murder. King claims the shooting was an accident.

         A. MCSO Interviews of King

         MCSO conducted two videotaped interviews of King after he was arrested and charged. While King has never denied he was present at the time Victim was shot, King's statements explaining the sequence of events varied greatly. In his first statement-given the morning of the shooting-King claimed a man named Aloysius McLaughlin went with him to Victim's home to purchase alcohol.[2] King claimed McLaughlin unexpectedly shot Victim. At the time, King was facing charges that he had recently kidnapped and robbed McLaughlin and McLaughlin's girlfriend Melissa Graham in McColl, South Carolina (McColl charges). During this first interview, King explained to MCSO that he and McLaughlin were back on "good terms." King stated that after the shooting, he took the gun from McLaughlin, tried to calm Wife, and "waved" or "swung" the gun at her. He claimed he then gave the gun back to McLaughlin and ran from Victim's home in fear.

         During his second interview five days later, King informed MCSO he went to Victim's home alone and purchased some liquor. He explained he later went back to Victim's home alone to sell a handgun he obtained from a man named "Broom." King stated that while he was showing Victim the handgun and attempting to remove the magazine from the gun, the gun accidentally discharged, shooting Victim in the face. King explained he panicked and eventually ran from Victim's home in fear. Both recorded statements contain scattered references (by both King and law enforcement) to the McColl charges and to an unrelated murder charge against King. Both sets of charges are potential "other bad acts" under Rule 404(b), SCRE.[3] Over King's objection, the trial court permitted the jury to hear evidence of the pendency of these charges.

         B. Pretrial Hearing

         King was indicted for murder, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, and pointing and presenting a firearm. During a pretrial hearing, King moved to exclude several portions of his first recorded interview. Throughout King's objections, the State and the trial court commented on the apparent technological impossibility of redacting certain statements from the recorded interview.

         Since the State contends King did not preserve the evidentiary issues for appellate review, we will summarize King's objections to the trial court. During the entire pretrial review of King's first recorded interview, King made numerous objections. King moved to have a reference to the McColl charges redacted:

KING: Your Honor, at this point he just mentioned the McColl charge again. I will move to redact that part.
THE STATE: Your Honor, he only mentioned the McColl charge because [King] is saying [McLaughlin] is the one [who] murdered [Victim]. He's saying, "You mean the same guy you just robbed two weeks ago."
TRIAL COURT: I'm going to leave -- let that stand.
KING: Your Honor, for the record my objection was 404(b).
TRIAL COURT: I understand.
KING: 403 and 401, Your Honor.
TRIAL COURT: I think it's appropriate based on the totality of what he's saying. Go ahead. King next objected to a statement he made regarding an unrelated murder for which he was charged:
KING: Your Honor, at approximately 4:08 -- I mean 5:08:25 he said he already has murders on his record, and I move to redact that, 404(b).
TRIAL COURT: What was that specific remark?
KING: He said, "I've already got murders on my ...

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