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State v. Green

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

June 26, 2019

The State, Respondent,
v.
Fabian Lamichael R. Green, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2017-001332

          Submitted March 5, 2019

          Appeal From Laurens County Donald B. Hocker, Circuit Court Judge

          Appellate Defender Susan Barber Hackett, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General W. Jeffrey Young, Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Melody Jane Brown, and Assistant Attorney General Samuel Marion Bailey, all of Columbia; and Solicitor David Matthew Stumbo, of Greenwood, all for Respondent.

          HILL, J.

         Convicted by a jury of murder and desecration of human remains, Fabian Lamichael R. Green appeals, challenging the trial court's admission of a series of direct messages from the victim's Facebook account into evidence and the denial of his motion for a mistrial due to a bailiff's comments to a juror. Because we conclude the Facebook messages were properly authenticated and the bailiff's misconduct did not affect the impartiality of the jury, we affirm.

         I.

         On the late afternoon of May 8, 2016, seventeen-year-old Edwin Diaz Charinos (Victim) left his parents' home driving a Ford Mustang and never returned. After his family filed a missing persons report, police reviewed direct messages Victim's father-who had his son's password-discovered on Victim's Facebook page. The messages were exchanged on May 7 and the afternoon of May 8 and appeared to be between Victim and a user named "Ruby Rina." Among other things, the messages revealed Ruby Rina invited Victim to her home at 108 Queens Circle in Laurens on the afternoon of May 8 for a sexual rendezvous. After reviewing the messages, officers visited 108 Queens Circle and looked for Victim's car to no avail.

         On May 26, a landscaper disposing of hedge clippings in woods off Taylor Road in Clinton discovered a Ford Mustang with its doors open and what appeared to be burned human remains beside it. The landscaper called 911 and responding officers processed the scene. Investigators also returned to 108 Queens Circle, where they encountered Green and Karina Galarza, Green's sometime girlfriend. Based on discussions with Galarza, investigators obtained arrest warrants for her and Green. A search of the residence revealed blood stains and other physical evidence. Davian Holman, Green's cousin, was also identified as a suspect. He was later apprehended after being found by police asleep under Galarza's bed at the Queens Circle residence. Green, Galarza, and Holman were all charged with Victim's murder.

         At Green's trial, expert evidence demonstrated the remains found in the woods matched Victim's DNA. Forensic testing conducted on a blood stain taken from 108 Queens Circle determined the odds were one in thirty-eight quadrillion that the blood belonged to someone other than Victim. The State also introduced a piece of bedding found where Victim's remains were located that appeared to be identical to bedding collected from Galarza's home.

         Holman testified Galarza's Facebook name was "Ruby Rina." He stated the morning of May 8, 2016, he was at Galarza's home at 108 Queens Circle with Green and Galarza. Holman explained Green and Galarza were laughing while texting, but he could not see the screens of the cell phones and did not know who they were messaging. Later that afternoon, Victim arrived at Galarza's home. When Victim tried to leave, Holman witnessed Galarza push Victim towards her sister's room. Green then emerged from the sister's room and struck Victim several times in the head with a hammer. Green told Holman to help him move Victim's body, which had been wrapped in bedding, into the backseat of Victim's Mustang. They drove Victim's car to the location off Taylor Road where Victim's remains were found. Holman stated Green removed Victim's body and a bucket with lighter fluid from the car. Holman testified he walked away from the car while Green sprayed the lighter fluid, so he did not see what happened to Victim's body, but he smelled smoke.

         An acquaintance of Green's who lived in Clinton testified Green and Holman walked up to his house around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. on the night of May 8, 2016. The acquaintance stated Green was carrying a bucket and looking for lighter fluid or alcohol. An autopsy found Victim's death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head, resulting from seven blows to the head with a flat, circular object consistent with the head of a hammer.

         Over Green's hearsay and authentication objections, the trial court admitted printouts of the Facebook messages into evidence. The State also presented a letter Green wrote while in jail awaiting trial. In the letter, Green admitted he and "his girl" used Facebook messages to lure Victim to Galarza's home where Green hit him in the head with a hammer. Green testified the letter was false, and he had written it to intimidate inmates who had been bullying him.

         After the jury deliberated for close to four hours, the trial court was alerted to questionable contact between a bailiff and a juror. While the trial court conferred with counsel about the contact, the jury reached a verdict. The trial court received the verdict in open court and sent the jury back to the jury room. The trial court then brought each juror out separately for individual questioning on the record. All denied any improper conversation with the bailiff. Bailiff Johnny Bolt testified a juror had asked him what would happen in the event of a deadlock, and he responded the judge would likely give them an Allen[1] charge and ask if they could stay later.

         Green moved for a mistrial, asserting the bailiff's comments improperly influenced the jury. The trial court denied Green's motion and sentenced him to forty-five years' imprisonment on the murder charge and ten ...


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