Thursday, January 11, 2007

S.C. Supreme Court holds that evidence of prison conditions are inadmissible in sentencing phase of trial

In State v. Burkhart, during the sentencing phase of trial, Burkhart objected to testimony by State's witness James Sligh, Director of Inmate Classification for the Department of Corrections, regarding the privileges available to an inmate who receives a sentence of life without parole. These privileges include access to the yard, work, education, meals, canteen, phone, library, recreation, mail, television, and outside visitors. The Court held that this testimony violated the long-standing rule that evidence in the sentencing phase of a capital trial must be relevant to the character of the defendant or the circumstances of the crime. However, the Court did note that evidence regarding a defendant's adaptability to prison life is clearly admissible, just not general testimony about prison conditions. The sentence was vacated and remanded for resentencing.

No comments: