Woodruff man’s murder conviction reversed by appeals court

Sandy Westmoreland (Source: SC Department of Corrections)

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – A Woodruff man’s murder conviction has been reversed by an appeals court.

The court found that Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger’s testimony should not have been admitted, according to documents.

Sandy Lynn Westmoreland was convicted for hitting Michael Daniels with his car and killing him in 2014.

It happened outside of Mary Black Hospital.

From the ruling:

Appellant Sandy Lynn Westmoreland appeals his convictions for murder and hit and run involving a death. He argues the trial court erred by allowing the coroner to testify as a lay witness that the cause of the victim’s death was a homicide and instructing the jury that voluntary intoxication was not a defense. We affirm Appellant’s conviction for hit and run and reverse his murder conviction.

Appellant argues the trial court erred by allowing Clevenger (Spartanburg Coroner) to testify he determined the manner of death was a homicide because it was impermissible opinion testimony by a lay witness. Specifically, Appellant argues Clevenger was not qualified as an expert and his opinion that Victim’s death was a homicide “embraced the ultimate issue to be decided by the jury.” Appellant asserts this error was “extraordinarily prejudicial” because he presented an accident defense during trial.

Westmoreland was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The hit-and-run ruling still stands meaning.

Westmoreland still has a 25-year prison sentence, but is now eligible for parole.

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