Case Law - Criminal - SC (A.5d.1a)

Note: These are the annotations for the criminal cases listed in the case law portion of the legal resources area. The subject words for each case are listed below the summary in parenthesis (we have to use “subject words” instead of “keywords” because of copyright issues having to do with publishers of case law).

Core Foundation Cases

State v. Wallace, 683 S.E.2d 275 (S.C. 2009) 384 S.C. 428
Defendant convicted of CSC 2d with a minor (his stepdaughter). Evidence of prior bad acts with victim’s sister admissible as common scheme or plan evidence. Case sets forth the test for admission of common scheme or plan evidence. First, the court determines the relevance of the evidence. Next the court analyzes the similarities and dissimilarities between the crime charged and the bad act evidence to determine whether there is a close degree of similarity. When the similarities outweigh the dissimilarities, the bad act evidence is admissible. Finally, the court assesses the evidence to ensure that probative value is not exceeded by prejudicial effect.

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad act)

State v. McKnight, 661 S.E.2d 354 (S.C. 2008) 378 S.C. 33
reversed on other grounds 378 S.C. 33, 661 S.E.2d 354 (2008)
Mother’s conviction of homicide by child abuse upheld where autopsy of fetus showed presence of a metabolite of cocaine and evidence showed cocaine metabolite could have been in child’s body only through ingestion of cocaine by mother during pregnancy.

(homicide by child abuse, fetus)

In re Ronnie A., 585 S.E.2d 311 (S.C. 2003) 355 S.C. 407
Juvenile was adjudicated delinquent for first degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. At the time of the offense, the juvenile was nine and, at the time of adjudication, juvenile was eleven. Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-430( C )(4), juvenile was required to register as a sex offender. Court rejected due process challenge to the family court order requiring him to register as a sex offender. Court found that registration as a sex offender was not punitive and the juvenile’s liberty interests were thus not implicated by the requirement to register. The court further found no harm to the juvenile’s reputation because, based on the juvenile’s age, the registry information was not available to the public.

(sex offender registry, juvenile)

Hendrix v. Taylor, 579 S.E.2d 320 (S.C. 2003) 353 S.C. 542
Court rejected appellant’s challenge to requirement that he register as a sex offender in South Carolina based on criminal convictions in Colorado which, if he had been convicted in South Carolina, would have required registration under South Carolina sex offender registry statute. Court rejected both equal protection and due process challenges to the requirement that appellant register as a sex offender in South Carolina.

(sex offender registry)

State v. Council, 515 S.E.2d 508 (S.C. 1999) 335 S.C. 1
Court affirmed trial court’s admission of DNA test results offered through FBI laboratory employee. Court did not adopt Daubert but set forth the test under the South Carolina Rules of Evidence for admission of scientific evidence: the publications and peer review of the technique; prior application of the method to the type of evidence involved in the case; the quality control procedures used to ensure reliability; and the consistency of the method with recognized scientific laws and procedures.

(Daubert, scientific evidence)

Whitner v. State, 492 S.E.2d 777 (S.C. 1997) 328 S.C. 1
Mother was convicted of unlawful conduct towards a child (under the predecessor to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-5-70) for causing her baby to be born with cocaine metabolites in the baby’s system due to mother’s ingestion of cocaine during the third trimester of her pregnancy. The court rejected the mother’s contention that she could not be convicted of child endangerment when the child victim was a viable fetus and held that “child”, for the purposes of the unlawful conduct towards a child statute, includes a viable fetus.

(unlawful conduct toward a child, viable fetus)

State v. Schumpert, 435 S.E.2d 859 (S.C. 1993) 312 S.C. 502
Defendant was convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. Victim was a thirteen year old female. Court held that both expert testimony and behavioral evidence are admissible as rape trauma evidence to prove a sexual offense occurred where the probative value of such evidence outweighs the prejudicial effect.

(rape trauma evidence)

Beaufort County Dept. of Soc. Serv. v. Strahan, 426 S.E.2d 331 (S.C. Ct. App. 1992) 310 S.C. 553
Defendant indicted for criminal sexual conduct with a minor and DSS subsequently initiated a case in family court against the defendant and his girlfriend who was the mother of the child victim. The defendant moved to dismiss the family court action based on the pending criminal case against him. The court held that a criminal indictment does not deprive the family court of jurisdiction over cases involving the same factual situations where the family court is exercising its civil jurisdiction under the Children’s Code.

(jurisdiction, family court , general sessions court)

State v. Lyle, 118 S.E. 803 (S.C. 1923) 125 S.C. 406
Defendant convicted of check forgery. On appeal, defendant asserted the trial court erred in admitting testimony of other witnesses as to defendant’s committing other crimes than check forgery. Court rejected defendant’s argument finding that evidence of other crimes is competent to prove a specific crime charged when it establishes: motive; intent; absence of mistake or accident; a common scheme of plan; and identify of the person charged with the commission of the crime charged.

(Lyle evidence, prior bad act)

Important Cases

Watson v. Ford Motor Company, 389 S.C. 434, (S.C. 2010) 699 S.E.2d 169
Although this is a civil case, the South Carolina Supreme Court emphasized the gatekeeper function of the trial court with respect to the admission of expert testimony. The court noted that the trial court has to make three preliminary findings before expert testimony is admissible: the subject matter is beyond the ordinary knowledge of the jury; the expert has the requisite knowledge and skill to qualify as an expert in the subject matter; and the court’s evaluation of the substance of the expert’s testimony shows the testimony is reliable.

At trial, the court allowed the testimony of two of plaintiff’s experts. The first expert testified that electromagnetic interference (EMI) interfered with the operation of the speed control and proposed a feasible alternative design that Ford could have used to prevent EMI. The second expert was qualified as an expert on “cruise control diagnosis.” Ford appealed the jury’s verdict for plaintiff and asserted error in the admission of testimony from the two expert witnesses. The supreme court agreed that the expert on cruise control should not have been qualified as an expert because he had no experience working with or studying cruise control systems. However, the court refused to reverse the lower court’s decision on that error because Ford did not show that it suffered prejudice as a result of that expert’s testimony.

Ford also asserted that the trial court erred in admitting the expert on EMI because he was neither qualified to testify regarding an alternative design nor to testify regarding the theory that EMI caused the acceleration. The supreme court agreed and reversed the lower court’s decision to admit that expert’s testimony. The court found that the expert’s testimony about the alternative design were unreliable and lacked any scientific basis. Furthermore, the court found that the expert’s theory that EMI caused the acceleration was not reliable because the theory has never been tested, cannot be replicated in a testing environment, and has been rejected in the scientific community. The court determined that Ford had been prejudiced by the expert’s testimony and reversed the trial court’s decision to admit that expert’s testimony.

(expert witness, expert witness testimony, Daubert factors)

Smith v. State, 689 S.E.2d 629 (S.C. 2010) 386 S.C. 562
Smith was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and sentenced to twelve years. Smith sought post-conviction relief (PCR) based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. At trial, a forensic interviewer had been allowed to testify that the victim told her that Smith had sexually assaulted her and that she believed the victim was telling the truth. Smith contended that his lawyer’s failure to object to the forensic interviewer’s testimony constituted ineffective assistance. The PCR court denied relief, finding that the lawyer’s failure to object was a valid trial strategy, and that Smith did not establish that he was prejudiced by the forensic interviewer’s testimony.

Smith filed a petition for writ of certiorari, challenging the PCR court’s denial of relief. The Supreme Court reversed the PCR court and held that the trial lawyer rendered deficient representation which resulted in prejudice to Smith.

The supreme court held that the forensic interviewer’s testimony exceeded the time and place limitations of Rule 801(d)(1) SCRE since she testified that the victim identified Smith as the attacker. The court also held that both prongs of the Strickland test for ineffective assistance of counsel were satisfied. In dissent, Chief Justice Toal stated that the trial lawyer’s performance was not deficient, and, even if it was deficient, Smith suffered no prejudice because the State had presented overwhelming evidence of his guilt aside from the forensic interviewer’s testimony. Furthermore, Chief Justice Toal agreed with the PCR court that the lawyer had acted in accordance with a valid trial strategy.

(forensic interview, Rule 801, time and place limitations)

In re Chandler, 676 S.E.2d 676 (S.C. 2009) 382 S.C. 250
The State appealed the trial court’s order dismissing the State’s petition and finding that there was no probable cause to believe Chandler met the statutory definition of a sexually violent predator. In the trial court’s view, the State did not establish that Chandler suffered from a mental abnormality or a personality disorder that makes it likely he will engage in acts of sexual violence in the future and did not establish that Chandler used physical violence in the commission of the offenses. The supreme court reversed the trial court’s finding that the State had not met its burden of establishing probable cause. The court considered Chandler’s record of offenses and evidence offered by the State that Chandler had not completed his treatment program at SCDC. As to physical violence, the court noted, “In any event, physical violence is not a prerequisite under the Act.” Citing In re the Care and Treatment of Brown, 643 S.E.2d 118 (S.C. Ct. App. 2007). The court noted that, once Chandler has been evaluated, he will still have the opportunity to refute the State’s allegations that he meets the definition of an SVP at the trial on the merits.

(sexually violent predator, mental abnormality)

State v. Bryant, 675 S.E.2d 816 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009) 382 S.C. 505
Appellant convicted of three counts of CSC with a minor and three counts of lewd acts. The trial court admitted videos of forensic interviews of victims pursuant to SC Code § 17-23-175. In affirming convictions, court of appeals rejected appellant’s arguments that admission of videos was prohibited by the savings clause of the statute and was an ex post facto violation. As to ex post facto argument, court found no violation as the statute affected a mode of procedure and not substantial personal rights (citing Thompson v Missouri 171 U.S. 380 (1898)).

(forensic interview, ex post facto)

State v. Douglas, 671 S.E.2d 606 (S.C. 2009) 380 S.C. 499
Appellant was convicted of committing a lewd act on a minor and petitioned the supreme court to overrule the court of appeals’ decision which affirmed the trial court’s qualification of a sheriff’s department officer as an expert in the field of forensic interviewing. The supreme court reversed the court of appeals decision to the extent it upheld the qualification of the witness as an expert but affirmed the result reached by the court of appeals (including affirming the conviction). The supreme court found that, given the nature of the witness’ testimony, it was not necessary to qualify the witness as an expert. The supreme court acknowledged in FN 2 that numerous state courts had upheld qualification of expert witnesses in the field of forensic interviewing.

The supreme court also reversed the following conclusion of the court of appeals: “[t]he only reasonable inference the jury could have drawn from [the expert witness] testimony is that she believed the victim told the truth about being sexually assaulted.” On that issue, the supreme court noted, “There is no evidence whatsoever that [the expert witness] believed the victim to be telling the truth. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals’ holding that the only reasonable inference is that [the expert witness] believed the Victim was telling the truth is reversed.”

(forensic interview, expert witness)

State v. Edwards, 644 S.E.2d 66 (S.C. Ct. App. 2007) 373 S.C. 230, affirmed as modified, 678 S.E.2d 405
(S.C. 2009) 373 S.C. 230
The trial court allowed the child victim’s mother to testify that the defendant told the mother “To get in touch with [the child victim] and have her not show up because had had a hit on her, [and] she wouldn’t make it through the courtroom doors.” The child victim’s mother also testified that defendant told her that, if he went to jail on the charges, he would have the victim killed or kill the victim when he got out. The trial court allowed the mother’s testimony as witness intimidation testimony and the court of appeals affirmed the conviction. In affirming but modifying the court of appeals’ decision, the supreme court found the mother’s testimony was witness intimidation evidence which is admissible to prove consciousness of guilt and criminal intent under SCRE 404(b) when the evidence is related to the offense charged and reliable.

(404(b), prior bad act, witness intimidation)

State v. Fonseca, 681 S.E.2d 1 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009) 383 S.C. 640
Defendant was convicted of one count of lewd act upon a child. Trial court admitted evidence of prior assault (two years prior) as showing defendant’s intent but rejected State’s argument that prior act showed common plan or scheme. Court of appeals, following Nelson, reversed and remanded on the grounds that neither motive nor intent were relevant issues at trial because defendant denied any contact with victim. Court of appeals also found “no compelling argument of any similarities between the charged assault and the uncharged assault on the victim (charged assault: pushed child victim down and rubbed himself in a sexual manner against her; uncharged assault: defendant lay beside the victim in bed and touched beneath her underwear, rubbing her vagina and exposing his penis).

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad act, common scheme or plan)

State v. Holder, 676 S.E.2d 690 (S.C. 2009) 382 S.C. 278
Appellant was convicted of homicide by child abuse. On appeal, appellant raised issues concerning her right to confrontation and cross-examination and concerning SCRE 404(b). Appellant argued that trial court erred in allowing a sheriff’s department investigator to testify as to what a codefendant told the investigator during interrogation of the codefendant. The statement admitted against appellant was redacted and said in effect that the codefendant has noticed bruises on the child and “[the codefendant] felt like she had been inflicting them.” The codefendant did not testify at trial and appellant argued that admission of the codefendant’s statement through the investigator violated her right to confrontation. The supreme court held admission of the redacted statement was error but that it was harmless beyond reasonable doubt.

Appellant also argued that the court erred in admitting the testimony of a coworker that appellant began dressing differently and talking less about her child once she began a relationship with a codefendant boyfriend. At trial, appellant through counsel objected to the testimony based on SCRE 404(b). In rejecting appellant’s argument, the supreme court stated:

“We conclude [the coworker’s] testimony regarding [appellant] is not inadmissible character evidence. Rather, the coworker was merely recounting her version of events leading up to the time [appellant’s] child was killed, as well as her impression of [appellant] during this time frame.... [It] was to show [appellant’s] strong desire to please [codefendant] instead of protecting the welfare of her child and to establish an element of the offense, that she manifested an extreme indifference to the well-being of her son.”

Appellant asserted that the trial court erred in admitting photographs of her son taken approximately a month before his death. She contended that the photographs were intended to imply her son had been previously abused and constituted prior bad acts evidence not admissible under SCRE 404(b). One photograph showed faint bruising on the child’s back. The other photograph showed a small, triangular burn just below the child’s elbow. The court held the trial court did not abuse his discretion in admitting the photographs. The court noted that the State was required to show appellant manifested an extreme indifference to her child’s well-being and that the photographs show appellant was aware of the ongoing abuse of her child. The court further noted that the photographs established a continuous pattern of abuse and neglect which made it more probable that the child was a victim of child abuse and neglect rather than accident. The injuries of bruising on the back and the mark on the arm were similar to injuries the child sustained prior to his death. Finally, the court noted that the photographs also corroborated testimonial evidence that was admitted without objection.

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad acts, photograph of injuries)

State v. Russell, 679 S.E.2d 542 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009) 383 S.C. 447
Defendant was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a minor. The court of appeals determined that statements in a videotape of child’s interview with a counselor did not constitute a prior consistent statement that improperly bolstered child’s testimony. SC Code Section 17-23-175 (A) permits the admission of out-of-court statements by child sexual abuse victims when certain conditions are met and those conditions were met in this case. The court also noted that the probative value of the evidence was not significantly outweighed by any prejudicial effect.

(forensic interview, bolstering, SC Code 17-23-175)

State v. Gaines, 667 S.E.2d 728 (S.C. 2008) 380 S.C. 23
Appellant was convicted of three counts of solicitation of a minor, in violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 16-15-342. He appealed contending that evidence of prior chat room conversations was improperly admitted and that he was entitled to an entrapment instruction.

Appellant claimed that evidence of prior chat room conversations made to an undercover detective in Pennsylvania were inadmissible because S.C. Code Ann. § 16-15-342 did not become effective until after these chats occurred. The court rejected that argument and opined that the chats were admissible under Rule 404(b), SCRE, as relevant to demonstrate a common scheme or plan.

Appellant next argued that he was entitled to a jury instruction on the defense of entrapment. The court held the defense of entrapment was not available because defendant was predisposed to commit a crime independent of governmental influence. SLED merely provided an opportunity for appellant to commit a criminal act and in no way induced appellant to commit the criminal solicitation of a minor.

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad acts, entrapment)

State v. Kirton, 671 S.E.2d 107 (S.C. Ct. App. 2008) 381 S.C. 7
Appellant was convicted of CSC 2d with a minor. On appeal, appellant alleged that the trial court erred in denying his motion to exclude evidence of prior bad acts. The victim was 12 or 13 at the time appellant committed the offense for which he was convicted. At trial, the victim testified that appellant began kissing her and committing other sexual acts with her when she was six or seven years of age. Appellant objected to the victim’s testimony asserting that the prior bad acts were not similar to the one charged, were not proven by clear and convincing evidence, and that testimony about them was unduly prejudicial. The court of appeals rejected appellant’s arguments finding that the prior acts were proven by clear and convincing evidence and that they were not unduly prejudicial. In finding that the prior bad acts constituted a common scheme or plan, the court explained: "All of [appellant’s] alleged activity was directed toward the same victim. The six to seven year pattern of escalating abuse of victim by [appellant] is the essence of grooming and continuous illicit activity.... While the prior sexual acts were not the same as the exact crime for which [appellant] was charged, victim detailed a clear pattern of escalating sexual abuse and not a few isolated, unrelated incidents."

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad acts, common scheme or plan)

State v. Houey, 651 S.E.2d 314 (S.C. 2007) 375 S.C. 106
Appellant was charged with and convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor. The victim’s guardian requested that appellant be tested for HIV and Hepatitis B pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-740(B), which allows testing upon request of a victim. The trial court granted victim’s request. Appellant argued that the State must establish probable cause to compel testing and that S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-740(B) is unconstitutionally vague. The supreme court held this case fit the special needs exception to the normal requirement that a search be preceded by probable cause. In a “special needs” case, the need to search must be weighed against the interest of the defendant. The court concluded that the State had a legitimate interest in protecting the public from HIV and hepatitis B because those diseases often do not present visible symptoms. Additionally, the invasion of appellant’s privacy was minimal and outweighed by the significant state interest. The court also held that S.C. Code Ann. §16-3-740(B) was not unconstitutionally vague.

(HIV testing, special needs exception)

In re Beaver, 642 S.E.2d 578 (S.C. 2007) 372 S.C. 272
Respondent pled guilty to one count of lewd act of minor and had been previously convicted in Tennessee of four counts of aggravated rape of a child, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, and two counts of incest. Prior to respondent’s release from prison, the Multiple Disciplinary Team and Prosecutor’s Review Committee found probable cause to believe the respondent meets the statutory criteria for civil commitment as a sexually violent predator. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-48-30(1) defines a sexually violent predator as a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense and suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in sexual violence without civil commitment. At the SVP hearing, the trial court held that the SVP statute was not intended for someone who pleads to a non-violent fondling charge and, therefore, there was no probable cause to show respondent a sexually violent predator. The State appealed asserting the trial court erred by dismissing the sexually violent predator petition.

The supreme court found that the trial court erred by finding no probable and found respondent meets the criteria delineated in the SVP Act. The legislature deemed it appropriate to consider an attempt to commit a lewd act on someone under sixteen as a violent act. The supreme court also held that the lower court erred in finding that the State had failed to provide sufficient evidence that the respondent suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that may cause more sexually violent behavior.

(sexually violent predator, mental abnormality)

In re Brown, 643 S.E.2d 118 (S.C. Ct. App. 2007) 372 S.C. 611
Brown was convicted voyeurism after being caught peeping into his neighbor’s bedroom window. Appellant served his sentence and was subsequently released from prison. However, appellant was caught peeping in another bedroom window and pled guilty to voyeurism to the charge. The State then commenced an action seeking to commit Brown for long term control, care, and treatment. The trial court found that the State’s petition set forth sufficient probable cause to believe Brown to be a sexually violent predator and ordered his detention following a probable cause hearing. At hearing, the trial court found that the Attorney General had failed to establish probable cause to believe that appellant was a sexually violent predator. The State appealed.

The court of appeals held that the probable cause hearing established a clear pattern of sexually deviant behavior and that appellant showed no sign of rehabilitation or remorse. The court found, given the facts, that the State did establish probable cause that appellant had characteristics of a sexually violent predator. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a probable cause hearing.

(sexually violent predator, probable cause)

State v. Ladner, 644 S.E.2d 684 (S.C. 2007) 373 S.C. 103
Appellant was convicted for first degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment. On appeal, appellant argued that the victim’s hearsay statement was testimonial and therefore inadmissible under Crawford. Appellantalso assertedthat the trial court erred by admitting the victim’s hearsay statement under the excited utterance exception.

The court held appellant’s Confrontation Clause rights were not violated because victim’s statements were clearly non-testimonial because they were made to a friend of the child’s mother. The appellant also argued that the victim’s statement was improperly admitted as an excited utterance. The supreme court found the child’s excited utterance was admissible: the statement related to a startling event or condition; the statement was made while the child was under the stress of the excitement; and the stress of excitement was caused by the startling event or condition. The supreme court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, despite delay between the alleged event and victim’s admission, in admitting the child’s statement as an excited utterance.

(excited utterance, Sixth Amendment, confrontation)

State v. Northcutt, 641 S.E.2d 873 (S.C. 2007) 372 S.C. 207
Appellant was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of infant daughter. The autopsy revealed severe and extensive trauma to the child’s body and significant bruising and bone fractures indicative of shaken baby syndrome. Appellant argued, among other issues, that the trial court erred by: by requiring appellant to direct his expert witnesses to generate written reports for the prosecution; not allowing appellant to introduce a letter to his wife expressing remorse for the death of their baby despite wife’s contradictory testimony; allowing evidence of the child’s prior injury; and allowing solicitor’s closing argument to proceed despite a reversible level of passion and prejudice.

The State requested that appellant “disclose any conclusions and reports of any and all potential expert witnesses reduced to writing and accompanied by any and all written materials and all other materials upon which such an opinion is based”. The supreme court held that Rule 5(B)(1) of the South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure creates a right of reciprocal discovery, but does not authorize the trial court to require parties to generate written reports solely for the benefit of the opponent. However, this error was harmless.

Next, the appellant asserted that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence the infant victim suffered a broken leg two months prior to the crime. The supreme court held that the trial court abused his discretion in allowing evidence of the injury because the injury, under all accounts, an accident. The jury’s likely misperception of the evidence resulted in unfair prejudice to the appellant and appellant’s death sentence was reversed.

The appellant also claimed that he should have been permitted to introduce a letter, written to his wife, expressing his remorse for their child’s death in response to testimony that he displayed none. This court held that the trial judge erroneously excluded the evidence but the error was harmless because the record contained evidence of appellant’s remorse.
Finally, appellant claimed he was unduly prejudiced by the State’s closing argument. The solicitor’s closing arguments included him crying twice, declaring “an open season for babies” in Lexington County, informing the jury that he expected the death penalty, and a reenactment of the child’s funeral procession. The State admitted error in the solicitor’s comments, but contended that the brutality of the crime and the fact that the appellant himself asked for the death penalty required the court to uphold the sentence. The supreme court held that the solicitor’s closing arguments were unduly prejudicial and grounds for reversal of the appellant’s death sentence.

(prior bad acts, closing argument, mitigation evidence)

State v. Richardson, 595 S.E.2d 858 (S.C. Ct. App. 2004) 358 S.C. 586
Appellant’s convictions for 3d degree criminal sexual conduct and 2d degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor upheld where witness testimony was admitted to show that appellant used religion and financial pressure to coerce sex from victims. The testimony of witnesses and appellant’s responses to prosecutor’s questions showed that appellant had authority over the victims and were relevant to appellant’s credibility in view of his denials of sexually assaulting victims.

(coercion, statements of defendant, credibility)

In re Harvey, 584 S.E.2d 893 (S.C. 2003) 355 S.C. 53
Expert witness testimony provided sufficient evidence of mental abnormality (pedophilia) under the SVP statute.
(sexually violent predator, mental abnormality)

State v. Tufts, 585 S.E.2d 523 (S.C. Ct. App. 2003) 355 S.C. 493
Trial court admitted appellant’s statement to investigator that “he knew he had a problem with his sexual desires”. On appeal, appellant argued that his statement was inadmissible under Lyle. The court of appeals found the statement admissible not as bad acts but as part of the confession to the crime charged.

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad acts, consciousness of guilt)

In re Allen, 568 S.E.2d 354 (S.C. 2002) 351 S.C. 153
Court rejected ex post facto and double jeopardy challenges to SVP statute.

(sexually violent predator, ex post facto, double jeopardy)

In re Luckabaugh, 568 S.E.2d 338, 347 n.8 (S.C. 2002) 351 S.C. 122
Court rejected ex post facto, equal protection and substantive due process challenges to SVP statute.

(sexually violent predator, ex post facto, substantive due process)

State v. Walls, 558 S.E.2d 524 (S.C. 2002) 348 S.C. 26
Court rejected ex post facto challenge to sex offender registration statute and found sex offender registration statute non-punitive.

(sex offender registry, ex post facto)

State v. Warren, 534 S.E.2d 687 (S.C. 2000) 341 S.C. 349
The court upheld amending the offense from first degree to second degree CSC with a minor and to correct victim’s age at the time of the crime. The court held the amendment permissible because it did not change the substantive nature of the offense.

(amend indictment, indictment)

State v. Johnson, 512 S.E.2d 795 (S.C. 1999) 334 S.C. 78
Appellant was convicted of first degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and of lewd acts. At trial the court allowed the arresting officer to testify as to items seized at the appellant’s home including pornographic videos, condoms, handcuffs and a vibrator. The supreme court held admission of the officer’s testimony about those items error as they were irrelevant as there was no evidence appellant used those items in conjunction with the crimes for which he was convicted.

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad acts)

State v. Nelson, 501 S.E.2d 716 (S.C. 1998) 331 S.C. 1
The defendant was convicted of multiple sexual offenses for acts committed upon a three-year-old child. The state introduced videotaped children’s television shows, toys, pictures of young girls in various states of dress, and a picture of Punkey Brewster. The prosecution also introduced expert testimony that possession of such objects was consistent with the condition of pedophilia. The supreme court found the evidence to be improper character evidence, the only purpose of which was to show that the defendant was a pedophile, thereby encouraging the jury to conclude based on his character that he must have committed the acts charged.

(Lyle evidence, 404(b), prior bad acts)

State v. Lopez, 412 S.E.2d 390, 393 (S.C. 1991) 306 S.C. 362
The South Carolina Supreme Court recognized battered child syndrome as an accepted medical diagnosis, but did not address the issue of prior acts. When Lopez is considered in conjunction with the reasoning of Estelle - as explained by the dissent in Pierce- it is reasonable to assert that evidence of prior abuse should be admissible in the context of evidence on battered child syndrome. However, prosecutors must recognize that other cases (such as Pierce, Cutro and Fletcher) demonstrate that proving the identity of the perpetrator may be problematical even in cases of battered child syndrome.

(battered child syndrome)

State v. Mathis, 340 S.E.2d 538 (S.C. 1986) 287 S.C. 589
Testimony of a six-year-old child that defendant touched her with his penis and that it hurt was sufficient evidence to prove penetration for purposes of criminal sexual conduct.

(penetration, criminal sexual conduct)

State v. Hale, 326 S.E.2d 418 (S.C. Ct. App. 1985) 284 S.C. 348
Appellant was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in which victims were eight and nine year old males. Over defense objection, the prosecutor asked leading questions during direct examination of the children. The court of appeals rejected appellant’s assertion that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing leading questions on direct. The court stated that leading questions may be asked of a child particularly when the inquiry is directed to delicate matters of a sexual nature.

(children, leading questions)

State v. Richey, 70 S.E. 729 (S.C. 1911) 88 S.C. 239
Defendant was convicted of carnal knowledge of a child under 14. The South Carolina Supreme Court held that prior and subsequent acts are admissible in such cases provided either has any tendency to show the commission of the crime charged.

(prior bad acts)

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