State v. Colden, No. 4207.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtAnderson
Citation641 S.E.2d 912
Docket NumberNo. 4207.
Decision Date20 February 2007
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Cedric A. COLDEN, Appellant.
641 S.E.2d 912
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Cedric A. COLDEN, Appellant.
No. 4207.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Submitted February 1, 2007.
Decided February 20, 2007.

[641 S.E.2d 914]

Appellate Defender Aileen P. Clare, Office of Appellate Defense, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, of Columbia; and Solicitor Barbara R. Morgan, of Aiken, for Respondent.

ANDERSON, J.:


Cedric Ali Colden appeals his conviction for kidnapping, armed robbery, and murder. Colden argues the trial court erred in denying his motion for a continuance and refusing to order a mental competency evaluation. We affirm.1

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On December 21, 2003, Cedric Ali Colden was involved in the kidnapping and armed robbery of Alexander Gorman, as well as the kidnapping, armed robbery, and murder of Christopher Carroll. Colden was arrested and detained shortly thereafter.

Colden's trial was initially scheduled for Aiken County's September 7 and 14, 2004 terms of court. Just before the trial was set to begin, in late August of that year, Colden changed lawyers. He released his public defender and hired private counsel, who he believed "would have the time to put into the case and focus on it and not be overloaded."

On September 7, the day the case was scheduled to be called, Colden's recently retained attorneys moved for a continuance, relying primarily upon the fact they had become involved in the case only ten days earlier. Further, they indicated discovery motions had been recently filed and they did not know, at the present time, what evidence or witnesses would be involved in the trial. The deputy solicitor stated that he would like to try the case during the October 18 term; however, Colden's counsel responded that "given the seriousness of the case," they felt four to five additional weeks was too short a time to allow for proper preparation. The trial judge ordered the case carried over until the October 18 term, although subsequent discussions between the two sides would later move the case to the October 25 term of court.

On October 6, Colden's lawyers moved for another continuance, asking the case be set for December. Emphasizing the severity of the charges against their client, Colden's counsel argued they had not had sufficient time to prepare and noted they had not yet received or reviewed the police investigation notes regarding the case. Additionally, the attorneys inculcated that Colden had recently provided them with the name of an "exoneration" witness whom they were uncertain they would be able to locate and interview within the next nineteen days.

In response, the solicitor stressed that the date was originally set for the September term of court and Colden's prior counsel, the

641 S.E.2d 915

assistant public defender, had been notified two terms prior that the case would be called at that time. He emphasized it was Colden who waited until late August to make the decision to retain new representation. Additionally, the prosecutor indicated he would provide Colden with all discovery the State possessed.

The judge denied the motion for a continuance. However, he noted that if another issue material to the defense developed, particularly one involving the witness Colden had not yet located, he would consider changing his ruling. Although they provided no new information, Colden's attorneys renewed the motion for continuance at both the beginning and end of the trial. The motions were denied.

During a motion hearing on October 6, Colden's counsel moved for an order for a competency and criminal responsibility evaluation. Colden's lawyers declared: "Oftentimes when we talk to Mr. Colden, he is not really responsive to the questions that we put to him. He has a tendency sometimes to ramble on with things that are unrelated to our discussions." The prosecution objected, asseverating they did not know of any reason why Colden should be evaluated.

Colden was subject to voir dire by the judge. The colloquy with the court included discussion about his family and childhood. Colden provided rational responses regarding his age (thirty-three) and education (high school graduate). He described and discussed his four years of service in the Navy, previous job at a fiberglass plant, and work selling automobiles.

Mrs. Jennings, Colden's maternal grandmother, took part in the voir dire. After providing some brief information about her grandson's family background, she testified she had not noticed Colden needed a doctor, although she had asked for someone, such as a minister, to speak with him. Similarly, Ms. Dickerson, Colden's girlfriend of four years, stated she had requested for a social worker to see Colden. Dickerson believed, at the time he was first arrested, Colden had "a lot of angry feelings, probably family-wise, that should have been resolved years ago that weren't." Colden informed the court that he had not received any mental counseling, but had participated in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Program in 1994 and completed an Alcoholics Anonymous class in 1995.

Colden's criminal record was discussed. His only prior offenses were relatively minor, magistrate-level misdemeanors, handled without the assistance of counsel. The judge covered the various actors within the trial setting. Colden stated he understood the trial judge was there to "listen to both parties' sides" and the jury "basically decide[d] whether you're guilty or not...." He explained his lawyers' duty was to "represent [him] to the best of their ability." When the judge elucidated the specific role of the solicitor as being the person who would present witnesses and evidence to try to convince the jury of his guilt, Colden replied that he comprehended.

Colden advised the court that he was aware he was being charged with one count of murder and two counts of armed robbery and kidnapping. He described armed robbery as "basically robbing somebody ... with a weapon and so forth" and kidnapping as "abducting somebody." Colden affirmed he understood the need to talk with his lawyers regarding witnesses and facts. He stated he had not yet discussed with his attorneys what the state would have to prove at trial for him to be convicted. Colden reported he, "for the most part," understood the things his counsel and the court had gone over with him.

In support of their request, Colden's attorneys vouched they had explained to their client the role of the judge, burdens of proof, and elements the solicitor would have to prove, and Colden's inability to better discuss these issues with the judge left "no doubt" a competency evaluation should be performed. Counsel admitted to the court their client's demeanor during the hearing was similar to what they had observed earlier, but added that at times Colden was "not very responsive

641 S.E.2d 916

or would ramble on about something that may not be relevant to the questions that were asked." They asked the court to look past his answers and consider his "herky, jerky movement" and inability to know what to do with his hands. Counsel conceded they felt Colden potentially understood what was happening, but felt the potential sentence of life without parole supported the need for the evaluation and should be made "out of a precaution."

In response, the solicitor offered that during the judge's questioning, Colden "answered very rationally and thoughtfully" and noted "his ability to speak and his ability to enunciate and his ability to answer questions." Although acknowledging he had no way of knowing if Colden suffered from any "un-surfaced mental illness," he stated nothing in his investigation indicated its existence. The solicitor opined that he detected a "level of [mental] competence" in Colden and requested the evaluation be refused.

The court determined Colden to be "a very articulate, intelligent young man," and, noting his "good grasp of dates and history," found him "to be probably more lucid and articulately aware of his surroundings and proceedings against him than a number of defendants seen when this issue is raised." The judge felt Colden maintained good eye contact, "seem[ed] fairly relaxed in answering questions about his past," and appeared to be very forthright with court. In conclusion, the court held:

I detected nothing here today that would, I believed, indicate the need for further evaluation or any evaluation. I do certainly have a lot of respect for Mr. Simmons and Mr. Grant and their abilities as lawyers, but without something specific in terms of his behavior as well as his inability to assist you all, at this point especially, I do not believe I have before me—I'm going to deny any of the [McNaughten] issues. Again, I think the burden is on the defense to bring that forward. At this point, that has not been brought forward. It was not really argued to the court by counsel nor his grandmother and fiancé raised anything in my questioning of them related to either issue, his competency at this time or anything in his past that might indicate some mental health issues. There was just no indication at this point in time that would cause the court to inquire an evaluation.

The motion for a mental evaluation was denied.

At the outset of the trial, prior to jury selection, Colden's attorneys renewed their request for a competency evaluation. This, as well as another re-assertion of the motion just before jury instructions, was refused. In expounding upon his decision, the trial judge stated:

The previous motion for a psychological evaluation was denied, and I stand by that ruling as well and, again, note that I do believe that based on the court's interview of Mr. Colden a few weeks ago as well as his time in this courtroom during the course of this trial, I do not believe that any psychological evaluation was needed.

STANDARD OF
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28 practice notes
  • State v. Nelson, Appellate Case No. 2017-001406
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • August 19, 2020
    ...well as what the party believes the absent witness would testify to and the basis for that belief." State v. Colden , 372 S.C. 428, 438, 641 S.E.2d 912, 918 (Ct. App. 2007). Testimony from an unavailable witness that is likely merely cumulative to other evidence introduced at trial does not......
  • State v. Carver, 2021-UP-278
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 21, 2021
    ...nephew as a witness because the testimony of that witness would have been cumulative.[1] See State v. Colden, 372 S.C. 428, 437, 641 S.E.2d 912, 917 (Ct. App. 2007) ("The granting or denial of a motion for a continuance is within the sound discretion of the trial [court]."); id. at 435, 641......
  • State v. Hightower, Appellate Case No. 2018-000822
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 7, 2021
    ...the discretion of the circuit court. Monahan v. State, 365 S.C. 130, 133, 616 S.E.2d 422, 424 (2005); State v. Colden, 372 S.C. 428, 435, 641 S.E.2d 912, 916 (Ct. App. 2007). Likewise, the admission of evidence is within the discretion of the circuit court and will not be reversed on appeal......
  • State v. Nash, 2012-UP-075
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 8, 2012
    ...of the proceedings against him. State v. Weik, 356 S.C. 76, 81, 587 S.E.2d 683, 685 (2002); see State v. Colden, 372 S.C. 428, 441-42, 641 S.E.2d 912, 920 (Ct. App. 2007) (finding no abuse of discretion by the trial court in not ordering a competency examination where defendant's voir dire ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • State v. Nelson, Appellate Case No. 2017-001406
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • August 19, 2020
    ...well as what the party believes the absent witness would testify to and the basis for that belief." State v. Colden , 372 S.C. 428, 438, 641 S.E.2d 912, 918 (Ct. App. 2007). Testimony from an unavailable witness that is likely merely cumulative to other evidence introduced at trial does not......
  • State v. Carver, 2021-UP-278
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 21, 2021
    ...nephew as a witness because the testimony of that witness would have been cumulative.[1] See State v. Colden, 372 S.C. 428, 437, 641 S.E.2d 912, 917 (Ct. App. 2007) ("The granting or denial of a motion for a continuance is within the sound discretion of the trial [court]."); id. at 435, 641......
  • State v. Hightower, Appellate Case No. 2018-000822
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 7, 2021
    ...the discretion of the circuit court. Monahan v. State, 365 S.C. 130, 133, 616 S.E.2d 422, 424 (2005); State v. Colden, 372 S.C. 428, 435, 641 S.E.2d 912, 916 (Ct. App. 2007). Likewise, the admission of evidence is within the discretion of the circuit court and will not be reversed on appeal......
  • State v. Hightower, 2021-UP-261
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 7, 2021
    ...the discretion of the circuit court. Monahan v. State, 365 S.C. 130, 133, 616 S.E.2d 422, 424 (2005); State v. Colden, 372 S.C. 428, 435, 641 S.E.2d 912, 916 (Ct. App. 2007). Likewise, the admission of evidence is within the discretion of the circuit court and will not be reversed on appeal......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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