Charleston, SC Manslaughter Defendant Denied Early Parole

Killing a parent is not domestic violence in South Carolina.

In State v. Walker, decided February 7, 2018, the SC Supreme Court held that Walker, who pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and possession of a weapon in Charleston, SC after killing his father, does not qualify for early parole as a victim of domestic violence.

Voluntary manslaughter is a no-parole offense. Although there is a provision in SC law that allows for early parole when a defendant makes a showing that he or she was a victim of domestic abuse at the time of the incident, Walker does not qualify because SC’s domestic violence statute does not cover violence between parents and children.

Voluntary Manslaughter is a No-Parole, 85% Offense in SC

First, Walker pled guilty to killing his father with a sword in a motel room in Mount Pleasant, SC. He pled to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 30 years suspended to 18 years followed by probation.

Voluntary manslaughter is a no-parole, 85% offense, which means that an inmate is not eligible for early release of any kind until they have served at least 85% of their sentence. But, can Walker get early parole based on his domestic abuse at the hands of his father?

Early Parole for Domestic Violence Victims

Walker asked the Court to allow him to apply for early parole based on a SC law that allows inmates to seek parole after one-fourth of their sentence if they present “credible evidence of a history of domestic violence” committed by a household member.

The Circuit Court found that “there is ample evidence in the record of a history of criminal domestic violence against the defendant at the hands of his father,” but denied his request for early parole because violence between parents and children are not covered by the domestic violence laws in South Carolina.

Who is Covered by SC’s Domestic Violence Laws?

Only “household members,” as defined by SC law, fall within SC’s criminal domestic violence statute, are eligible to apply for a civil domestic violence restraining order in the family court, or are eligible for early parole as a domestic violence victim.

SC’s definition of household member includes:

  1. A spouse;
  2. A former spouse;
  3. Persons who have a child in common; or
  4. A male and female who are cohabiting or formerly have cohabited (the implication that this excludes same-sex couples has been found unconstitutional by the SC Supreme Court).

It does not cover violence between parents and children, which means that Walker is not eligible for early parole.

Did Walker’s Attorney Advise Him He Would Get Early Parole?

Considering that his attorney presented “ample evidence… of criminal domestic violence against the defendant at the hands of his father” at the plea hearing, I wonder if Walker’s attorney advised him that he would be eligible for early parole?

If so, and if less than a year has passed since the plea, Walker may be eligible for post-conviction relief (PCR) – when an attorney gives bad advice regarding collateral consequences (parole eligibility is the classic example), that would be grounds for PCR… of course, if PCR was granted, his remedy would be a new trial on his original charges which most likely were for murder…

Charleston, SC Criminal Defense Lawyer

Charleston criminal defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone accepts murder, manslaughter, and domestic violence cases in the Charleston and Eastern SC area. If you have been arrested in Charleston, SC, contact GBS law firm now by calling at (843) 808-2100 or by filling out our online contact form.