Bowman v. South Carolina

Petitioner Marion Bowman sought post-conviction relief (PCR) from his sentence of death for the 2001 murder of Kandee Martin. Essentially, petitioner argued his trial counsel was deficient in failing to object to the State's cross-examination of prison-adaptability expert James Aiken. Ultimately, the jury found the evidence supported two aggravating factors: the murder was committed during the commission of a kidnapping, and the murder was committed during the commission of a larceny with the use of a deadly weapon. The trial judge sentenced Petitioner to death for murder and ten years for arson. On direct appeal, Petitioner challenged the admission of Aiken's testimony regarding general prison conditions. The South Carolina Supreme Court found that because defense counsel failed to contemporaneously object to the solicitor's prison-conditions line of questioning, the issue of its propriety was not preserved for appellate review, and affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentences. In so holding, however, the Court reminded the bench and the bar that evidence of general prison conditions was irrelevant to the jury's determination of whether a defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment and thus should not be permitted. This application for post-conviction relief (PCR) claimed trial counsel was deficient in not objecting to the State's re-cross examination of Aiken concerning general prison conditions. The PCR judge denied relief. This appeal followed. After review, the Supreme Court concluded there was evidence to support the PCR court's findings, and again affirmed. View "Bowman v. South Carolina" on Justia Law