Appeal Is Rejected
Appeals Court sees “old wine, new bottle” rejecting Laurens man call for a new trial.
A criminal sentence appeal that included a focus on Facebook has been rejected by the South Carolina Court of Appeals in a Laurens County case.
Fabian Lamichael Green’s attorneys presented “old wine in a new bottle,” the appeal rejection said in connection with a claim that Facebook posts could have come from a fake account. The messages could have been fabricated or manipulated, leading to Green’s murder conviction, the appeal claimed.
Just because it’s a new technology doesn’t mean it is different from “the written word” being the possible subject of fraud, the appeal rejection said.
Green is serving a 45-year sentence after being convicted of killing 17-year-old Edwin Diaz, a Laurens District High School student. The burned body of Diaz was found on a side street outside of Clinton. Two others also were sent to prison for their roles in Diaz’s death.
The Facebook messages in question were from the victim’s account, and were used to convict Green, the appeal said.
In rejecting the call for a new trial, the court said, “The vulnerability of the written word to fraud did not begin with the arrival of the internet, for history has shown a quill pen can forge as easily as a keystroke, letterhead stationery can be stolen or manipulated, documents can be tricked up and telegrams can be sent by posers. Viewed against this history, the argument that social media should bear a heavier authentication burden because such a ‘modern’ medium is particularly vulnerable to fraudsters may be seen for what it is: Old wine in a new bottle.”
The appeal also claimed misconduct by a bailiff with regard to communications with the jury, but the appeals court said it did not have undue influence on the jury’s deliberations in Green’s case. The 45-year sentence was imposed on Green by 8th Circuit Court Judge Donald B. Hocker.
What the bailiff said was “astonishingly inappropriate” but did not address the facts of the case, the appeals court said. The appeal said a bailiff told a juror after 4 hours of deliberation that the judge likely would tell them to stay longer to reach a verdict (an Allen charge).
Also sent to prison for their roles in the homicide were Karina Galarza and Davian Holman. Sentenced to 18 months, Galarza pled guilty to manslaughter. Sentenced to 8 years suspended on 5 years probation, Holman pled guilty to accessory after the fact.
Green was convicted of murder.
Sentenced in 2016, Green appealed on March 5. The appeal decision was handed down June 26.
A Clinton Chronicle article from June 1, 2016, said that a victim - unconfirmed but possibly a Laurens teen missing since May 8 - was beaten in the head and burned allegedly by three teenagers from Laurens who are in custody. Then-Sheriff Ricky Chastain said he had been in contact with the mother of missing teen, Edwin Diaz-Chirinos, 17, to keep her abreast of the investigation that led to the three arrests and charges of murder and desecration of a human body.
“This is a tragic situation for the victim’s family and our community. We will work tirelessly to make sure justice is served,” Chastain said in a statement (later the body was confirmed to be that of Diaz).
Coroner Nick Nichols ruled homicide in the case of a body found on Taylor Drive, west of Clinton. A silver Mustang, the kind of car Diaz-Chirinos was driving when he went missing, was found near where the body was located.
Authorities said human remains were found scattered on the site of abandoned mobile homes.
Arrested and denied bond are:
--Karina Galarza, 17, of 108 Queen Cr., Laurens;
--Fabian Lamichael-Rashad Green, 19, of 219 Independence Ave., Laurens;
--Davian Shquon Holman, 17, of 900 Church St., Laurens.
A LCSO statement said, “Based on the investigation, the three suspects lured the victim to a home in Laurens City where he was beaten and from there he was driven to the deserted location in Clinton. Once on Taylor Drive, the victim's body was removed from the vehicle and set on fire.”
Authorities at first did not post a BOLO for Diaz-Chirinos when he did not come home in early May from practicing soccer at Laurens City Park.
One early report on his whereabouts said he was seen in Gray Court.
Eventually, a reward was posted for information on his whereabouts.
Family and friends gathered May 21 in Laurens to search for clues in his disappearance. Later, students gathered outside Laurens District High School to remember Diaz-Chirinos as word got out through social media that his car was found. DNA testing was necessary to positively identify the human remains that were found at the scene; SLED assisted the local investigation.
Nichols said the victim died of multiple head trauma.