July 10, 2013 South Carolina Court of Appeals published opinions

State v Dial 

Dial was convicted of homicide by child abuse. The panel affirmed. It held that a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the US Marshal’s task force had authority to arrest Dial under federal law and an agreement between the sheriff and Marshal’s office. The panel held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting cross examination of the questioning officer as his romantic relationship with the prosecutor did not start until after the questioning and the solicitor’s office recused itself. The panel held the trial court did not err in denying a mistrial motion based on a witness bringing an urn containing the ashes of the child victim into the courtroom as the urn was small, the jury may not have seen it and the trial court gave a curative instruction. It also held that autopsy photos were properly admitted to assist the jury in understanding the pathologist’s testimony and that any err in not admitting death certificates was harmless (one judge would have held there was no error) as all the relevant information came in through oral testimony. The panel finally held that Dial failed to preserve his challenge to his life sentence.

State v Jakes

During Jakes trial, a juror disclosed her husband was a nontestifying law enforcement officer. After questioning the juror, the trial court kept her on the jury.  Jakes was convicted of numerous counts arising for a roadside attempted armed robbery. The panel with one judge concurring in part, affirmed.  The panel held that retaining the juror was not error as the juror affirmed she could be impartial, she was not asked about her husband’s employment at voir dire, she disclosed her husband’s law enforcement status on her questionnaire and while that information was omitted in the juror sheet given to the defense, a majority held hat, under precedent, counsel’s lack of due diligence and the lack of prejudice meant retaining the juror was not error. One judge concurred arguing there was no legal error in the failure to transfer information to the summary sheet, so the analysis under precedent was unnecessary.

State v Henkel 

Henkel was arrested for DUI. The arresting officer started recording after giving Miranda warnings. The trial court allowed the audio and video in. The panel, 2-1, reversed and dismissed. The majority held that under South Carolina Code 56-5-2953 requires the recording of the Miranda warnings, that provision must be strictly enforced and thus reversed and dismissed the charge. The dissent argued that the majority’s approach eviscerated the exception to the videotaping requirement and that under the totality of the circumstances, including a fleeing suspect first contacted four hours after a crash and the interview being performed in an ambulance, triggered the exception.

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