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Felder v. State

Supreme Court of South Carolina

August 7, 2019

Antrell R. Felder, Petitioner,
v.
State of South Carolina, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2017-001173

          Submitted June 17, 2019

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

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

          Appellate Defender David Alexander, of Columbia, for Petitioner.

          Attorney General Alan Wilson and Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, both of Columbia, for Respondent.

          BEATTY, CHIEF JUSTICE

         A jury convicted Antrell Felder of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Following a hearing on Felder's application for post-conviction relief ("PCR"), the PCR court issued an order denying and dismissing Felder's application. We find the PCR court erred in determining trial counsel was not ineffective. Accordingly, we reverse the PCR court's decision and remand this matter to the court of general sessions for a new trial.

         I. FACTS

         Shortly after midnight on July 18, 2008, Kayla McFadden and her cousin, Antrell McFadden, were walking to a gas station in Sumter. On the way, the McFaddens saw a car drive down the street towards them. They subsequently observed a man get out of the car, shoot the victim, and drive away.

         Kayla testified the shooter was driving a white car with tinted windows, but she did not know the type of car. Antrell also testified the car was white with tinted windows. Kayla described the shooter as wearing a hat, white shirt, and dark pants. Similarly, Antrell described the shooter as wearing a red and black hat, white shirt, and blue jeans. Both McFaddens testified the victim was not wearing a hat. Detective William Lyons of the Sumter Police Department responded to the 911 call about the shooting. When he arrived at the scene, he observed a red baseball hat in the roadway.

         After the McFaddens provided statements at the police station, Lyons and another detective, Jason Potteiger, drove them home. While on the way, the officers noticed a white car pass them at Willow Morand Apartments. The car "caught [their] attention," and the "[McFaddens] made comments like, it looks like the vehicle. That can be the vehicle, I'm not sure." Because the officers were traveling with the McFaddens, they asked another officer to investigate. The officer went to Willow Morand Apartments and determined Felder's sister-in-law lived there. Felder's girlfriend was driving the vehicle (a white Buick), and it was registered to Felder's mother.

         When Lyons and Potteiger returned to the police station, they learned of a burglary that had occurred on Harry Street. Lyons testified the 911 call about the burglary came in at 12:37 AM, and the 911 call about the shooting came in around 12:38 or 12:39 AM. The officers began investigating whether there was a connection between the two incidents. Lyons testified he never drove the distance between the two locations, but he believed it would take less than a minute in a vehicle to get from one location to the other.

         Lyons returned to the McFaddens' home around 6:30 PM (approximately eighteen hours after the shooting) to show them a lineup. Antrell indicated that he recognized two people, one of whom was Felder who was labeled as "No. 2." However, neither Kayla nor Antrell was able to identify anyone in the lineup as the shooter, and both testified they could not see who fired the gun.

         Fingerprint experts examined the red hat recovered from the crime scene and found two fingerprint images on a gold label affixed to the hat. One of the fingerprints was identified as belonging to Felder. The second fingerprint could not be positively identified. In addition, law enforcement found Felder's DNA inside the hat, as well as the DNA of an unknown person.

         Police confiscated the Buick on the same day as the shooting. During trial, Lyons viewed photographs of the vehicle and stated it appeared tint had been removed from the windows.[1] Lyons admitted, however, that there was no official report or handwritten documents stating window tint had been removed. Lyons also stated the Buick in the photographs had white handles, though a third witness told police the shooter's car had silver handles. Furthermore, a crime scene investigator testified he found blood in the Buick on a receipt and the radio controls, but the blood belonged to Felder. Law enforcement did not find any blood or DNA evidence belonging to the victim in the car.

         At trial, the State moved to admit a summary of Felder's oral statement to police. Trial counsel expressly stated he did not object to the admission of the evidence. Potteiger testified he spoke with Felder at the police station and prepared a typed summary of Felder's oral statement. Potteiger then read the summary out loud, including the following portion:

Antrell Felder began by stating he was 26 years old, that his date of birth was [redacted] 1982, and that he lived at [redacted]. He related that he was currently on ...

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