State v. Bamberg, 20567

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation240 S.E.2d 639,270 S.C. 77
Decision Date14 December 1977
Docket NumberNo. 20567,20567
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Billy BAMBERG and Willis Brown, Appellants.

Robert L. Hallman, Jr., of Jenkins, Perry & Pride, and Asst. Public Defender Michael J. Thompson, Columbia, for appellants.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod, Asst. Atty. Gen. Brian P. Gibbes, Staff Atty. Kay G. Crowe, and Sol. James C. Anders, Columbia, for respondent.

NESS, Justice:

Appellants were found guilty of the murder of Billy Gene Brooks and sentenced to life imprisonment. We affirm.

The principal witness for the State was co-defendant Renee Clark, a sixteen year old eye-witness to the murder. Ms. Clark testified the deceased raped her in a motel room the evening before the slaying. The alleged incident occurred shortly after Ms. Clark's escape from Willow Lane Girls' Correctional Center.

According to Ms. Clark, after she told appellants about the rape, Kenneth Cook drove the three of them to Brooks' house. They took Brooks to a remote area near Columbia where appellants shot him.

Brooks was found dying early the following morning from multiple shotgun and pistol wounds. A deputy sheriff testified that before Brooks died he stated "Renee Anderson (sic) set me up with some dudes."

Initially appellants assert the trial court erred in refusing to quash the indictment against them on the ground they did not have an effective preliminary hearing.

Appellants contend they were denied an effective preliminary hearing because they could not cross-examine the State's witness, Renee Clark. After identifying appellants at the preliminary hearing, Ms. Clark began to cry and could not continue her testimony. Two continuations of the hearing were later held but appellants were unable to cross-examine Ms. Clark, as she asserted her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify.

We do not equate preliminary and trial testimony. If we did, the practical result might be that the preliminary hearing, designed to afford an efficient and speedy determination of probable cause, would develop into a full scale trial. The preliminary hearing in this State is somewhat perfunctory and decidedly narrow in scope. It results in either holding the defendant for trial or dismissing the charges against him. It is not a trial in itself.

Appellants have demonstrated no prejudice from their inability to cross-examine Ms. Clark at the preliminary hearing. Section 22-5-320 of the 1976 Code of Laws of South Carolina outlines the preliminary hearing procedure and provides in part: "at which investigation the defendant may cross-examine the State's witnesses . . . " (Emphasis added). See also State v. White, 243 S.C. 238, 133 S.E.2d 320 (1963). Ms. Clark's subsequent trial testimony conformed substantially to her written statement which was made available to appellants. Moreover, appellants were able to cross-examine Ms. Clark at trial. Accordingly, appellants' exception on this ground is without merit.

Appellants next assert the lower court erred in allowing the solicitor to comment on and argue to the jury that it should draw an adverse inference from appellants' failure to call certain witnesses to establish an alibi defense.

Appellants testified that on the night in question that were together at the 555 Club with friends. However, few witnesses were presented to support this alibi. The trial judge held that while alibi is not an affirmative defense, the solicitor could comment in argument on the fact appellants did not present many witnesses to support their alibi.

We believe the trial judge's decision was proper. While this Court has indicated "grave doubt" about the propriety of a charge on the drawing of an adverse inference from failure to produce a material witness, State v. Batson, 261 S.C. 128, 198 S.E.2d 517 (1973), we have held it to be proper argument for an attorney. State v. Shackelford, 228 S.C. 9, 88 S.E.2d 778 (1955). Moreover, the judge's charge that the State had the burden of showing the appellants were present and actually participated in the...

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9 cases
  • State v. Primus, 3214.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 10, 2000 cases where a defendant fails to present any evidence at all. Douglas v. State, 332 S.C. 67, 504 S.E.2d 307 (1998); State v. Bamberg, 270 S.C. 77, 240 S.E.2d 639 An accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The burden is upon the State to prove the accused committed 341 S.C. 603 ......
  • Cowan v. McCall, C/A No. 0:10-2100-RBH-PJG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • August 22, 2011
    ...South Carolina law. (See App. at 421-22, ECF No.17-9 at 9-10) (citing Douglas v. State, 504 S.E.2d 307 (S.C. 1998), State v. Bamberg, 240 S.E.2d 639 (S.C. 1977), and State v. Shackelford, 88 S.E.2d 778 (S.C. 1955)). After careful review of the record and consideration of the surrounding cir......
  • State v. Charping
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 23, 1998
    ...out the failure of a party to call a witness." State v. Hammond, 270 S.C. 347, 356, 242 S.E.2d 411, 415 (1978). See also State v. Bamberg, 270 S.C. 77, 240 S.E.2d 639 (1977) (comment on failure to produce witness permissible); State v. Cook, 283 S.C. 594, 325 S.E.2d 323 (1985) (no error in ......
  • In re Gonzalez
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 3, 2014
    ...out the failure of a party to call a witness.” State v. Hammond, 270 S.C. 347, 356, 242 S.E.2d 411, 415 (1978). See also State v. Bamberg, 270 S.C. 77, 240 S.E.2d 639 (1977) (comment on failure to produce witness permissible); State v. Cook, 283 S.C. 594, 325 S.E.2d 323 (1985) (no error in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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