Submitted April 15, 2019
From Aiken County Robert E. Hood, Circuit Court Judge.
Appellate Defender David Alexander, of Columbia, for
Attorney General Alan Wilson and Senior Assistant Deputy
Attorney General Megan Harrigan Jameson, both of Columbia,
granted a writ of certiorari to review the denial of
Petitioner Anthony Martin's application for
post-conviction relief (PCR). We reverse and remand for a new
was convicted of armed robbery and criminal conspiracy in
Aiken County. Petitioner alleged in his PCR application that
his trial attorneys were ineffective for failing to elicit
testimony from Petitioner's mother regarding the
specific timeline of Petitioner's purported
alibi. Petitioner contended that he was in Atlanta, Georgia,
at the time of the robbery in South Carolina. Relief was
denied because Petitioner failed to present his mother's
testimony at the PCR hearing regarding the alibi defense.
Ordinarily, the absence of a purported alibi witness's
testimony is fatal, but in this case, counsel admitted they
were aware of the specific timeline furnished by the mother,
yet failed to introduce it. That testimony, if presented and
believed, would have made it impossible for Petitioner to be
in Aiken County at the time of the robbery. We grant
post-conviction relief and remand for a new trial.
was convicted of robbing a branch of Bank of America on West
Martin Town Road in North Augusta, South Carolina, at 12:20
p.m. on April 23, 2009, along with three codefendants. There
was no evidence linking Petitioner to the robbery other than
the testimony of the codefendants, who admitted their guilt,
cooperated with law enforcement, and implicated Petitioner.
defense, Petitioner presented testimony from two witnesses,
one of whom was his mother. At the time of the robbery,
Petitioner lived with his mother in Snelville, Georgia, which
is approximately thirty miles outside Atlanta. Regarding the
day of the robbery, the mother's testimony at trial
indicated only that she dropped Petitioner off in the morning
at a bus stop in Atlanta. However, the mother had given a
statement to trial counsel revealing that she dropped
Petitioner off "around 11:15, 11:30" on the day of
the robbery. Trial counsel conceded Petitioner's file
contained that specific and critical piece of
information.Inexplicably, trial counsel did not elicit
the precise drop-off time; the jury was left only with the
fact that Petitioner was dropped off in Atlanta sometime in
closing arguments, Petitioner's counsel challenged the
codefendants' testimony, essentially arguing they were
admitted thieves and liars who had changed their story to law
enforcement multiple times. Counsel further argued that no
other evidence pointed to Petitioner's involvement, such
as victim or third-party identification testimony or
scientific evidence. However, trial counsel never argued
Petitioner had an alibi for the time of the crime.
Nevertheless, the jury asked to rehear the alibi testimony.
Eventually, the jury found Petitioner guilty.
court denied Petitioner relief, finding Petitioner did not
present evidence of an alibi defense and Petitioner could not
prove prejudice because there was overwhelming evidence of
his guilt. We granted Petitioner's petition for a writ of
certiorari to review the PCR court's decision.
State first argues Petitioner failed to meet his burden of
proof because he did not provide sufficient evidence-the
in-person testimony of the alibi witness-at the PCR hearing.
Additionally, the State asserts, even if Petitioner provided
sufficient evidence, the PCR court correctly found Petitioner