State v. Corey D., No. 25077.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtWALLER, Justice
Citation339 S.C. 107,529 S.E.2d 20
PartiesThe STATE, Appellant, v. COREY D., a minor under the age of fourteen, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 25077.
Decision Date06 March 2000

339 S.C. 107
529 S.E.2d 20

The STATE, Appellant,
v.
COREY D., a minor under the age of fourteen, Respondent

No. 25077.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard January 4, 2000.

Decided March 6, 2000.


339 S.C. 110
Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, and Assistant Attorney General Robert E. Bogan, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Cecil Kelly Jackson, of Sumter, for appellant

J. Edward Bell, IIII, of Bell & Moore, P.A., of Sumter, for respondent.

WALLER, Justice:

The family court denied the State's motion to transfer jurisdiction to the court of general sessions. This appeal is from the order of the circuit court affirming the family court's decision. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

FACTS

Respondent was charged with two counts each of murder, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree (CSC), and burglary in the first degree. He was twelve years old at the time the crimes were committed.

The State petitioned the family court to transfer jurisdiction to the court of general sessions, and a waiver hearing was held. The family court denied the State's motion to transfer jurisdiction of respondent's case. The State appealed to the circuit court which affirmed the family court's order.

339 S.C. 111
ISSUES
1. Does the transfer of jurisdiction statute allow a juvenile under the age of fourteen charged with murder to be waived to general sessions court?
2. Did the family court abuse its discretion in not transferring jurisdiction over the murder charges to general sessions court?
3. If respondent is waived to general sessions court based on the murder charges, must the remaining charges be retained in family court?

1. TRANSFER OF JUVENILE UNDER AGE FOURTEEN

The circuit court found that the transfer statute, S.C.Code Ann. § 20-7-7605 (Supp.1998), did not authorize the family court to waive a twelve-year-old to general sessions court.1 The State argues that the circuit court erred. We agree.

The circuit court found that the transfer statute did not allow respondent to be waived because he was under fourteen years of age. The circuit court focused on whether a twelve-year-old could be waived up to general sessions court if charged with a Class A, B, C, or D felony. Looking primarily to subsection five of the transfer statute, the circuit court determined that the family court had the discretion to waive up a defendant as young as fourteen.2 The circuit court

339 S.C. 112
concluded that the statute did not give this discretion to the family court when a child under the age of fourteen is involved

The State argues that the circuit court failed to address subsection six of the transfer statute which specifically deals with when a child has been charged with murder. Moreover, the State contends that because this subsection contains no explicit age limitation for waiver, the circuit court erred in finding that the statute prohibits the family court from transferring jurisdiction over the murder charges. We agree.

In interpreting a statute, this Court's primary function is to ascertain the intent of the legislature. E.g., Whitner v. State, 328 S.C. 1, 6, 492 S.E.2d 777, 779 (1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1145, 118 S.Ct. 1857, 140 L.Ed.2d 1104 (1998). Moreover, "there is a basic presumption that the legislature has knowledge of previous legislation as well as of judicial decisions construing that legislation when later statutes are enacted concerning related subjects." Id.

Subsection six of section 20-7-7605 provides, in relevant part, as follows:

(6) Within thirty days after the filing of a petition in the family court alleging the child has committed the offense of murder or criminal sexual conduct, the person executing the petition may request in writing that the case be transferred to the court of general sessions with a view to proceeding against the child as a criminal rather than as a child coming within the purview of this article. The judge of the family court is authorized to determine this request....

S.C.Code Ann. § 20-7-7605(6) (Supp.1998) (emphasis added).3

Section 20-7-7605 was enacted in 1996. It is substantially similar to its predecessor statute, section 20-7-430, which was enacted in 1981 and repealed in 1996. Prior to 1981, section 14-21-510 was a statute similar to subsection six of the transfer statute and section 14-21-540 was the general transfer

339 S.C. 113
statute. These two statutes were repealed in 1981. Section 14-21-510 originally allowed waiver of a juvenile charged with murder, manslaughter, rape, attempted rape, arson, common-law burglary, bribery or perjury. Later, this statute was amended to only list murder and rape. See In the Interest of Shaw, 274 S.C. 534, 538, 265 S.E.2d 522, 524 (1980) (citing S.C.Code Ann. § 14-21-510(C) (Supp.1978))

In Shaw, this Court noted that the statute allowing waiver in murder and rape cases "authorizes a transfer of jurisdiction on the basis of the nature of the offense without regard to the age of the juvenile. On the other hand, section 14-21-540 authorizes a transfer of jurisdiction on the basis of the age of the juvenile without regard to the nature of the offense, as long as the offense would be criminal if committed by an adult." Shaw, 274 S.C. at 539, 265 S.E.2d at 524 (emphasis added). The Shaw Court concluded that "these two provisions of law were intended by the General Assembly to cover separate situations." Id.

Applying the reasoning of Shaw to the current version of the transfer statute, section 20-7-7605(6) authorizes transfer on the basis of the offense (murder) without regard to age, while other subsections of XX-X-XXXX authorize transfer on the basis of age and the classification of the offense. Because there is no express age designation in section 20-7-7605(6) whereas other subsections expressly contain age restrictions, we conclude that the Legislature intended these separate subsections "to cover separate situations." Shaw, 274 S.C. at 539, 265 S.E.2d at 524.

Moreover, in Sanders v. State, 281 S.C. 53, 314 S.E.2d 319 (1984), this Court held that the family court did not abuse its discretion in transferring a case to general sessions court where the appellant, at the age of thirteen, was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill. The State argues that because section 20-7-7605 was enacted in 1996—after the Sanders opinion—the Legislature is charged with the knowledge of this decision. The State contends that by not acting to change the transfer statute to prevent children under fourteen from being waived up to general sessions court, the Legislature intended that section 20-7-7605(6) apply to all juveniles who commit the

339 S.C. 114
offense of murder, even if they are under the age of fourteen. We find the State's argument persuasive. See Whitner, supra (there is a basic presumption that the legislature has knowledge of previous legislation as well as of judicial decisions construing that legislation when later statutes are enacted).

We hold that the Legislature intended to give the family court discretion to transfer jurisdiction in a murder case for any juvenile, regardless of age. The circuit court therefore erred in finding that the transfer statute prohibits a juvenile under the age of fourteen from being waived to general sessions court when charged with murder. Accordingly, the circuit court's ruling on this issue is reversed.

2. DENIAL OF TRANSFER MOTION

At the waiver hearing for respondent and three codefendants, the following pertinent evidence was presented about the victims, the ensuing investigation, and the preadjudicatory waiver evaluations of the juveniles.

The charges against respondent relate to two separate incidents which occurred within one week. On September 26, 1997, Florence Bradford, a 92-year-old woman, was discovered, nude, on the ground, underneath her residence. The police officer who discovered Bradford testified at the waiver hearing that she assumed Bradford had fallen through the floorboards and rolled under the home. The officer testified that Bradford was very blue because the weather had been extremely cold.

Bradford died in the hospital two days later. The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy testified that Bradford had been beaten on her head, torso and extremities and that there was recent trauma to the genital region. The pathologist concluded that Bradford died from hypothermia and dehydration due to multiple blunt force injuries and cold exposure. In addition, the pathologist believed the genital trauma was consistent with sexual assault.

On October 1, 1997, the body of Ruby Currie was discovered in her home. Currie, a 93-year-old woman, was found in her bedroom with her panties off, her bottom half exposed, and her gown pulled up. Black pepper had apparently been poured on her chest area. The pathologist testified that

339 S.C. 115
Currie's death was caused by asphyxiation due to manual strangulation. According to the pathologist, sexual assault and blunt force trauma to the head and extremities also contributed to Currie's death.

In their investigation of the deaths of Bradford and Currie, police interrogated fourteen-year-old Chris 0. Chris gave a taped statement which implicated himself, respondent, and another juvenile,...

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23 practice notes
  • Eagle Container v. County of Newberry, No. 4037.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 15, 2005
    ...are enacted concerning related subjects." State v. McKnight, 352 S.C. 635, 648, 576 S.E.2d 168, 174 (2003) (citing State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 529 S.E.2d 20 (2000); Berkebile v. Outen, 311 S.C. 50, 426 S.E.2d 760 (1993)). Because the amending ordinance clearly and unambiguously st......
  • Coastal Conservation v. Dept. of Health, No. 4450.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2008
    ...100, 103 (1999). Additionally, the legislature is presumed to be aware of judicial decisions interpreting statutes. State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 112, 529 S.E.2d 20, 23 (2000); State v. 192 669 S.E.2d 909 Coin-Operated Video Game Machs., 338 S.C. 176, 188, 525 S.E.2d 872, 879 (2000). &qu......
  • State v. Pittman, No. 26339.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 11, 2007
    ...family court err in waiving jurisdiction over Appellant's case? VI. Should this Court overrule its previous decision in State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 529 S.E.2d 20 VII. Does it violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution to sentence a twelve-year-old to a thirty-year p......
  • State v. Davis, No. 3970.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 22, 2005
    ...State v. Reed, 332 S.C. 35, 503 S.E.2d 747 (1998); State v. Rochester, 301 S.C. 196, 391 S.E.2d 244 (1990); see also State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 529 S.E.2d 20 (2000) (noting an abuse of discretion is a conclusion with no reasonable factual support). This Court does not re-evaluate the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Eagle Container v. County of Newberry, No. 4037.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 15, 2005
    ...are enacted concerning related subjects." State v. McKnight, 352 S.C. 635, 648, 576 S.E.2d 168, 174 (2003) (citing State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 529 S.E.2d 20 (2000); Berkebile v. Outen, 311 S.C. 50, 426 S.E.2d 760 (1993)). Because the amending ordinance clearly and unambiguously st......
  • Coastal Conservation v. Dept. of Health, No. 4450.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 23, 2008
    ...100, 103 (1999). Additionally, the legislature is presumed to be aware of judicial decisions interpreting statutes. State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 112, 529 S.E.2d 20, 23 (2000); State v. 192 669 S.E.2d 909 Coin-Operated Video Game Machs., 338 S.C. 176, 188, 525 S.E.2d 872, 879 (2000). &qu......
  • State v. Pittman, No. 26339.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 11, 2007
    ...family court err in waiving jurisdiction over Appellant's case? VI. Should this Court overrule its previous decision in State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 529 S.E.2d 20 VII. Does it violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution to sentence a twelve-year-old to a thirty-year p......
  • State v. Davis, No. 3970.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 22, 2005
    ...State v. Reed, 332 S.C. 35, 503 S.E.2d 747 (1998); State v. Rochester, 301 S.C. 196, 391 S.E.2d 244 (1990); see also State v. Corey D., 339 S.C. 107, 529 S.E.2d 20 (2000) (noting an abuse of discretion is a conclusion with no reasonable factual support). This Court does not re-evaluate the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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