Currently Browsing:SC Supreme Court

SC Supreme Court OK’s Prolonged Traffic Stop & Search

State v. Stepheno Jemain Alston (No. 2015-002134) On March 28, 2011, Deputy Donnie Gilbert, employed with the Interstate Criminal Enforcement Team of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, was monitoring traffic on northbound Interstate 85. At approximately 1:00 p.m., Deputy Gilbert observed a green Hyundai Santa Fe pass him while continuing to strike the dotted lines

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SC Supreme Court: No Mid-Trial Appeal for the State

State v. David Ledford (No. 2016-000791) During the charge conference in Mr. Ledford’s trial for inflicting great bodily injury upon a child, there was a dispute between the parties regarding the proper jury instructions. Ledford’s proposed jury instruction included a requirement that he acted “willfully” in order for the jury to convict. Ledford explained his requested jury

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SC Supreme Court Rejects Domestic Violence Equal Protection Claim

State v. Elias Walker (No. 27763) In this appeal, the defendant argues that his ineligibility for early parole under 16-25-90 violates his constitutional right to equal protection. The applicable statute permits an offender to receive early parole for their crime against a “household member” if their attorney presents credible evidence of ” a history of

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SC Supreme Court: PCR Granted in Armed Robbery Case, Counsel’s Deficient Performance Requires Retrial

Stephen Smalls v. State (No. 27764) In this PCR case, the Court of Appeals held that trial counsel was deficient, but found that the evidence against Smalls was overwhelming, undermining his Strickland claim. The Supreme Court now reverses, finding that the evidence was not overwhelming, and therefore Smalls is entitled to relief. The underlying case involves an

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SC Supreme Court Reverses Denial of PCR in Criminal Sexual Conduct Case

Michael Lee Robinson v. State (No. 2015-001773) In this PCR case, Robinson was charged with criminal sexual conduct for acts that took place between 1998 and 2000. At the time the alleged acts occurred, criminal sexual conduct with a minor carried a sentencing range of 0-30 years. Subsequently, the statute was amended to increase the

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SC Supreme Court Affirms Conviction and Death Sentence in Myrtle Beach Murder Case

State v. Luzenski Cottrell (No. 27754) Luzenski Allen Cottrell was convicted and sentenced to death by an Horry County jury for the 2002 murder of Myrtle Beach police officer Joe McGarry. At trial, the State alleged that Cottrell shot and killed Officer McGarry during a scuffle outside of a Dunkin Donuts in Myrtle Beach. The

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SC Supreme Court Clarifies Interlocutory Appellate Procedures

State v. Andrew Looper (No. 2015-001493) Petitioner was charged with driving under the influence (DUI). At a pretrial hearing before a magistrate, Looper moved to suppress evidence of field sobriety tests and breath analysis, arguing they were the fruits of an unconstitutionally prolonged traffic stop. The magistrate granted Looper’s motion to suppress the evidence and dismissed the

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SC Supreme Court Affirms Convictions in Eyewitness ID Case

State v. Shawn Wyatt (Case No. 2016-001303) Kershaw Correctional Institute Officer Joe Schnettler was at his post in a watch tower when he observed a man run from the woods to the fence surrounding the prison. Schnettler watched the man throw eight packages over the fence, and then run back into the woods. During the

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Conviction Reversed Due to Attorney’s Conflict of Interests

Gonzalez v. State Gonzalez filed a PCR action claiming that his trial attorney had a conflict of interests when he represented Gonzalez at trial. The PCR court denied relief, and the Court of Appeals affirmed that decision. The Supreme Court reverses. The nature of the conflict that Gonzalez identifies is as follows: Gonzalez was charged with

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SC Supreme Court Affirms Conviction in Child Neglect/Injury Case

State v. Miama Kromah Kromah was convicted for (1) infliction of great bodily injury upon a child, and (2) unlawful neglect of a child. On appeal, Kromah claimed that the trial court erred in permitting two State’s witnesses to testify about hearsay conversations that they had with the child victim (the child did not testify

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