April 9, 2019
From Richland County Alison Renee Lee, Circuit Court Judge
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Senior Assistant
Deputy Attorney General William M. Blitch, Jr., of Columbia,
both for Appellant.
Appellate Defender Susan Barber Hackett, of Columbia, for
State appealed Jamie Lee Simpson's sentence following his
guilty plea to four counts of second degree sexual
exploitation of a minor, arguing the circuit court erred in
permitting home detention in lieu of the minimum two
years' imprisonment mandated by section 16-15-405 of the
South Carolina Code. We reverse.
and Procedural History
February 19, 2014, Special Investigator Lucinda McKellar of
the South Carolina Attorney General's Office conducted an
online investigation using file sharing programs to identify
individuals distributing child pornography. McKellar was able
to download and receive five files containing child
pornography from a user later identified as Simpson. The
videos were explicit and disturbing, containing images of
children being forced to perform sexual acts and sexual
assaults against children as young as six.
a second investigation in March 2014, McKellar was again able
to download explicit child pornography from Simpson. After
obtaining subscriber information, McKellar identified
Simpson's Richland County residence as the location from
which the child pornography was being shared.
Richland County Sheriff's Office executed a search
warrant on Simpson's home on January 9, 2015, and seized
several computers. Simpson admitted to police that he
searched and downloaded child pornography using a file
sharing network. A forensic examination revealed child
pornography or the remnants and artifacts of child
pornography on multiple seized devices, with file dates from
2006 through 2014. The Sheriff's Office arrested Simpson
on January 13, 2015, charging him with sexual exploitation of
a minor in the second degree.
November 4, 2015, Dr. Thomas Martin of Martin Psychiatric
Services conducted a comprehensive psychosexual evaluation of
Simpson, which included a full interview and the review of
discovery and investigative reports provided by the State.
Dr. Martin concluded Simpson was not a pedophile, a
psychopath, or a sexual predator. Following the evaluation,
Simpson attended group therapy sessions with Dr. Martin twice
a month. According to Dr. Martin, Simpson actively
participated in the sessions, showing he was motivated for
treatment, and cooperated in Dr. Martin's medication
regimen, which included treatment for depression,
post-traumatic stress disorder, and other combat-related
issues. Additionally, Dr. Martin opined Simpson is "a
very low risk to sexually reoffend."
January 2016, the Richland County Grand Jury indicted Simpson
on four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in the
second degree under section 16-15-405(A) of the South
Carolina Code (2015). Simpson pled guilty to all counts on
October 18, 2016.
degree sexual exploitation of a minor is classified as a
violent felony,  and § 16-15-405 mandates that upon
conviction a person "must be imprisoned not less than
two years nor more than ten years. No part of the minimum
sentence may be suspended nor is the individual convicted
eligible for parole until he has served the minimum
sentence." S.C. Code Ann. § 16-15-405(D)
(2015) (emphasis added).
sentencing, Simpson requested to serve the two-year,
mandatory minimum sentence on home detention. Simpson argued
serving his sentence on home detention would satisfy both the
Legislature's penological concerns as well as any
community safety concerns. Emphasizing his military service
and lack of a prior criminal history, Simpson argued home
detention would protect the public and deter future criminal
conduct. Additionally, Simpson noted if he were to be
incarcerated for more than sixty days, he would lose his
military benefits and retirement pay, causing great financial
hardship to his family and the likely loss of their home.
Concerning his rehabilitation, Simpson argued incarceration
"would provide no needed treatment or vocational
training" and his "continued access to private
counseling and treatment with Dr. Thomas Martin [would] be
far more effective to maintain his mental health than the
correctional environment of a prison."
reviewing § 24-13-1530, which addresses home detention
programs as an alternative to incarceration, the plea court
stated, "based on the testimony that was heard from Dr.
Martin, apparently [Simpson] is a low risk [for reoffending].
The question really comes down to the non-violent adult
offenders." Acknowledging "[t]his particular crime
has been classified as violent under the statute," the
circuit court expressed concern as to whether or not the home
detention program "is available." However, the
court found Simpson "would be a good candidate for home
detention" and opined that despite the Legislature's
classification of second ...