State v. Brown, No. 2894.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtGOOLSBY.
Citation508 S.E.2d 38,333 S.C. 185
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Christopher Arnex BROWN, Appellant.
Decision Date26 October 1998
Docket NumberNo. 2894.

333 S.C. 185
508 S.E.2d 38

The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Christopher Arnex BROWN, Appellant

No. 2894.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard October 7, 1998.

Decided October 26, 1998.


333 S.C. 187
Senior Assistant Appellate Defender Wanda H. Haile, of S.C. Office of Appellate Defense, of Columbia, for appellant

Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott and Assistant Attorney General Caroline Callison Tiffin, of Office of the Attorney General, of Columbia; and Solicitor Donald V. Myers, of Lexington, for respondent.

GOOLSBY, Judge:

Christopher Brown was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment. He appeals, asserting the trial court erred in admitting prejudicial identification evidence and refusing to grant a mistrial based on an improper comment in the state's closing argument. We affirm.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On November 14, 1995, three men 1 robbed Nevada Charlie's Video Poker Club in Lexington County. They also took cash and jewelry from several employees and customers. Surprisingly, a married couple who frequented the club, Jessica and Ricky Johnson, were not robbed, despite the fact that they were wearing valuable jewelry. Police later determined that both Johnsons were involved in planning the robbery.

333 S.C. 188
The next day police learned that Jessica Johnson had returned to Nevada Charlie's to claim a reward based on information she had about the robbery. The police interviewed her and subsequently prepared arrest warrants naming four suspects, including Jessica's husband Ricky. One of the warrants was for Ricky's brother, Rodriquez Benefield, and police arrested him on November 18. Benefield was released when his alibi checked out, but not before giving police additional information concerning the perpetrators. Based on Benefield's verified information, the police obtained four additional arrest warrants, including one for appellant Christopher Brown.2

Brown was arrested on December 6 and taken to the South Congaree Police Department, where he confessed to participating in the robbery as a lookout. The chief of police supervised his confession, which was documented in a statement dictated to a SLED officer assigned to the case. Afterward, the police showed Brown three photo line-ups. Brown picked out himself and two others as the perpetrators of the robbery.

At some point after the robbery, police showed the same photo line-ups to the victims and witnesses to the crime. No one positively identified Brown. One victim, Jennifer Youngblood, did offer a general description of one of the robbers in her statement to police, describing him as "small framed, maybe 140 pounds" and wearing a "great big" gold ring on a finger of his right hand.3 On the bottom of the photo array bearing Brown's picture, however, Youngblood wrote "none," indicating she could not definitively identify anyone in the array.

At trial, the prosecuting attorney showed Youngblood the same photo line-up bearing Brown's picture, and she testified that although she had marked "none" at the bottom, she had in fact picked out number three during the earlier showing. Photo number three in the array depicted Christopher Brown.

333 S.C. 189
Brown's counsel immediately objected and moved for a mistrial, challenging Youngblood's testimony as an unreliable in-court identification. The trial court held an in camera hearing to evaluate Youngblood's proffered testimony. After argument, the court ruled her photo line-up testimony admissible

At closing, the solicitor argued to the jury that, if they believed Brown's confession to be involuntary, they should throw the case out. In particular, the solicitor said he would "give Mr. Brown his ring and send him home." Counsel for Brown again moved for a mistrial, arguing that the statement would bias the jury by implying that if they acquitted Brown he would be back on the street committing other crimes. The court, however, denied the motion.

LAW/ANALYSIS

1. Admissibility of Identification Testimony

The admissibility of evidence falls squarely within the sound discretion of the trial court. State v. Patrick, 318 S.C. 352, 457 S.E.2d 632 (Ct.App.1995). Accordingly, evidentiary rulings of the trial court will not be set aside absent an abuse of discretion or prejudicial legal error. Id.

Here, Brown argues the trial court erred in admitting...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 practice notes
  • State v. Patterson, No. 3046.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 20, 1999
    ...falls squarely within the sound discretion of the trial court. See State v. Gregory, 198 S.C. 98, 16 S.E.2d 532 (1941); State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 508 S.E.2d 38 (Ct.App.1998). Accordingly, evidentiary rulings of the trial court will not be set aside on appeal absent an abuse of discretio......
  • State v. Weaver, No. 3864.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 7, 2004
    ...him a fair trial. In making this determination, we must examine the alleged impropriety in light of the entire record. State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 191, 508 S.E.2d 38, 41 (Ct.App.1998); see State v. King, 349 S.C. 142, 159, 561 S.E.2d 640, 649 (Ct.App.2002) ("The test of granting a new tri......
  • State v. Reddick, No. 3448.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 19, 2002
    ...discretion in dealing with the range and propriety of closing argument. State v. Bell, 302 S.C. 18, 393 S.E.2d 364 (1990); State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 508 S.E.2d 38 (Ct.App.1998). An appellate court will not disturb the trial court's ruling regarding closing argument where there is no abu......
  • State v. Tisdale, No. 3108.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 7, 2000
    ...of evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court. State v. Tucker, 319 S.C. 425, 462 S.E.2d 263 (1995); State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 508 S.E.2d 38 (Ct.App.1998). Accordingly, a trial court's decision to allow the in-court identification of an accused will not be reversed absen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • State v. Patterson, No. 3046.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 20, 1999
    ...falls squarely within the sound discretion of the trial court. See State v. Gregory, 198 S.C. 98, 16 S.E.2d 532 (1941); State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 508 S.E.2d 38 (Ct.App.1998). Accordingly, evidentiary rulings of the trial court will not be set aside on appeal absent an abuse of discretio......
  • State v. Weaver, No. 3864.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 7, 2004
    ...him a fair trial. In making this determination, we must examine the alleged impropriety in light of the entire record. State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 191, 508 S.E.2d 38, 41 (Ct.App.1998); see State v. King, 349 S.C. 142, 159, 561 S.E.2d 640, 649 (Ct.App.2002) ("The test of granting a new tri......
  • State v. Reddick, No. 3448.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 19, 2002
    ...discretion in dealing with the range and propriety of closing argument. State v. Bell, 302 S.C. 18, 393 S.E.2d 364 (1990); State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 508 S.E.2d 38 (Ct.App.1998). An appellate court will not disturb the trial court's ruling regarding closing argument where there is no abu......
  • State v. Tisdale, No. 3108.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 7, 2000
    ...of evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court. State v. Tucker, 319 S.C. 425, 462 S.E.2d 263 (1995); State v. Brown, 333 S.C. 185, 508 S.E.2d 38 (Ct.App.1998). Accordingly, a trial court's decision to allow the in-court identification of an accused will not be reversed absen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT