State v. Edwards, No. 4261.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtAnderson
Citation649 S.E.2d 112
PartiesSTATE of South Carolina, Respondent, v. Jason Sinatra EDWARDS, Maceo Latonya Edwards, and Jonais Edwards, Appellants.
Decision Date21 June 2007
Docket NumberNo. 4261.
649 S.E.2d 112
STATE of South Carolina, Respondent,
v.
Jason Sinatra EDWARDS, Maceo Latonya Edwards, and Jonais Edwards, Appellants.
No. 4261.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard June 6, 2007.
Decided June 21, 2007.
Rehearing Denied August 27, 2007.

[649 S.E.2d 116]

Attorney General Henry D. McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, Senior Assistant Attorney General W. Edgar Salter, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Cecil Kelly Jackson, of Sumter, for Respondent.

Steven Smith McKenzie, of Manning, for Appellants.

ANDERSON, J.


Jason, Maceo, and Jonais Edwards (collectively Defendants) appeal their criminal convictions, contending the trial court erred in 1) failing to follow the proper procedure for a Batson1 challenge during jury selection; 2) denying Defendants' motion to dismiss the criminal charges because they were not granted a speedy trial; and 3) denying Defendants' motion to dismiss based on the State's violation of Rule 3, SCRCrimP. We affirm.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 11, 2004, the Williamsburg County Grand Jury indicted Jason and Maceo Edwards, each on two counts of murder and one count of possession of a weapon during a violent act. The Grand Jury indicted Jonais Edwards for accessory after the fact of murder. The charges stemmed from the June 19, 2002, murders of Joe Woods and Jimmy Robinson. Arrest warrants for Jonais and Maceo were issued on June 22, 2002, and for Jason on October 31, 2002. Each defendant filed a motion for a speedy trial.

Defendants were tried jointly before a jury in January of 2006. The trial court quashed the first jury and impaneled a second jury in response to the State's Batson motion. Jason Edwards2 moved to dismiss the charges based on alleged violations of his right to a

649 S.E.2d 117

speedy trial and Rule 3, SCRCrimP. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts. The trial court sentenced Jason to life imprisonment for the murders and five years, concurrent, for possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Maceo received thirty years for the murders and a concurrent five-year sentence for possession of a weapon during a violent crime. The trial court sentenced Jonais to fifteen years for his conviction on accessory after the fact, suspended upon service of seven years in prison, and five years probation. Defendants were credited with time served.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In criminal cases, the appellate court sits to review errors of law only. State v. Baccus, 367 S.C. 41, 625 S.E.2d 216 (2006); State v. Wilson, 345 S.C. 1, 545 S.E.2d 827 (2001); State v. Wood, 362 S.C. 520, 608 S.E.2d 435 (Ct.App.2004). We are bound by the trial court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. State v. Quattlebaum, 338 S.C. 441, 527 S.E.2d 105 (2000); State v. Williams, 326 S.C. 130, 485 S.E.2d 99 (1997); State v. Patterson, 367 S.C. 219, 625 S.E.2d 239 (Ct.App.2006) cert. pending; State v. Landis, 362 S.C. 97, 606 S.E.2d 503 (Ct.App. 2004). This Court does not re-evaluate the facts based on its own view of the preponderance of the evidence but simply determines whether the trial judge's ruling is supported by any evidence. Wilson, 345 S.C. at 1, 545 S.E.2d at 827; State v. Mattison, 352 S.C. 577, 575 S.E.2d 852 (Ct.App.2003).

On appeal, we are limited to determining whether the trial judge abused his discretion. State v. Reed, 332 S.C. 35, 503 S.E.2d 747 (1998); State v. Douglas, 367 S.C. 498, 626 S.E.2d 59 (Ct.App.2006) cert. pending; State v. Walker, 366 S.C. 643, 623 S.E.2d 122 (Ct.App.2005). An abuse of discretion occurs when the ruling is based on an error of law or a factual conclusion that is without evidentiary support. Fields v. Regional Med. Ctr. Orangeburg, 363 S.C. 19, 609 S.E.2d 506 (2005); Renney v. Dobbs House, Inc., 275 S.C. 562, 274 S.E.2d 290 (1981); see also Simon v. Flowers, 231 S.C. 545, 550, 99 S.E.2d 391, 393-94 (1957) ("`[E]rror at law' exists: (1) when the circuit judge, in issuing [the order], was controlled by some error of law . . . or (2) where the order, based upon factual, as distinguished from legal, considerations, is without adequate evidentiary support."); McSween v. Windham, 77 S.C. 223, 226, 57 S.E. 847, 848 (1907) ("[T]he determination of the court will not be interfered with, unless there is an abuse of discretion, or unless the exercise of discretion was controlled by some error of law.").

In determining whether a party exercised strikes in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), the appellate court must examine the totality of the facts and circumstances in the record surrounding the strikes. State v. Shuler, 344 S.C. 604, 545 S.E.2d 805 (2001). The trial judge's findings regarding purposeful discrimination in the exercise of peremptory strikes rest largely on evaluation of demeanor and credibility. Southerland v. State, 337 S.C. 610, 524 S.E.2d 833 (1999); State v. Tucker, 334 S.C. 1, 512 S.E.2d 99 (1999). Often the demeanor of the challenged attorney will be the best and only evidence of discrimination. Hernandez v. New York, 500 U.S. 352, 111 S.Ct. 1859, 114 L.Ed.2d 395 (1991); Shuler, 344 S.C. at 615-16, 545 S.E.2d at 810. Furthermore, a strike must be examined in light of the circumstances under which it is exercised, including an examination of the explanations offered for other strikes. Id. at 616, 545 S.E.2d at 810-11.

The judge's findings as to purposeful discrimination are entitled to great deference and will be set aside on appeal only if clearly erroneous. State v. Haigler, 334 S.C. 623, 515 S.E.2d 88 (1999); State v. Adams, 322 S.C. 114, 470 S.E.2d 366 (1996). The body of law extant in regard to rulings made by a trial judge in a Batson hearing reveals luculently that the appellate court must give deferential treatment to the trial judge on review. State v. Cochran, 369 S.C. 308, 326, 631 S.E.2d 294, 304 (Ct.App.2006) Anderson, J. concurring in result only.

649 S.E.2d 118
LAW/ANALYSIS
I. Batson v. Kentucky

Defendants assert the trial court erred by quashing the first jury panel following a Batson hearing. Specifically, Defendants contend the trial court's handling of the Batson hearing effectively placed the burden on Defendants to prove the absence of purposeful discrimination after they had articulated racially neutral explanations for their strikes. We disagree.

In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 89, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), the Supreme Court, through the Equal Protection clause, forbade prosecutors from using peremptory challenges to strike jurors because of their race. The purposes of Batson v. Kentucky and its progeny are to protect a defendant's right to a fair trial by a jury of his peers, protect each venireperson's right not to be excluded from jury service for discriminatory reasons, and preserve public confidence in the fairness of the justice system by seeking to eradicate discrimination in the jury selection process. State v. Haigler, 334 S.C. 623, 515 S.E.2d 88 (1999); State v. Flynn, 368 S.C. 83, 627 S.E.2d 763 (Ct.App. 2006). It is unconstitutional to strike a juror on the basis of race or gender. See J.E.B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127, 114 S.Ct. 1419, 128 L.Ed.2d 89 (1994). The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the striking of a venireperson on the basis of race. State v. Shuler, 344 S.C. 604, 545 S.E.2d 805 (2001); Haigler, 334 S.C. at 628, 515 S.E.2d at 90. "Purposeful racial discrimination in selection of the venire violates a defendant's right to equal protection because it denies him the protection that a trial by jury is intended to secure." Batson, 476 U.S. at 86, 106 S.Ct. 1712. A criminal defendant may object to race-based peremptory challenges on equal protection grounds regardless of whether the defendant and potential juror share the same race. Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 111 S.Ct. 1364, 113 L.Ed.2d 411 (1991); Payton v. Kearse, 329 S.C. 51, 495 S.E.2d 205 (1998). Both the State and defendants are prohibited from discriminatorily exercising a peremptory challenge of a prospective juror. Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 112 S.Ct. 2348, 120 L.Ed.2d 33 (1992).

A hearing held pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky is trifurcated. In State v. Rayfield, 369 S.C. 106, 631 S.E.2d 244 (2006) our supreme court reiterated the proper procedure for conducting a Batson hearing originally set forth in State v. Adams, 322 S.C. 114, 470 S.E.2d 366 (1996)3 (citing Purkett v. Elem, 514 U.S. 765, 115 S.Ct. 1769, 131 L.Ed.2d 834 (1995)). First, when one party strikes a member of a cognizable racial group, the circuit court must hold a Batson hearing if the opposing party requests one. Shuler, 344 S.C. at 615, 545 S.E.2d at 810; Haigler, 334 S.C. at 629, 515 S.E.2d at 90. In order to raise and preserve a Batson issue, the opposing party must move for the hearing after the jury is selected but before it is sworn. State v. Jones, 293 S.C. 54, 358 S.E.2d 701 (1987). This hearing must be held out of the presence of the jury panel and the jury venire. Id. Second, the proponent of the strike, to successfully rebut the presumption of a Batson violation, must then offer a facially race-neutral explanation for the strike. Haigler, 334 S.C. at 629, 515 S.E.2d at 90-91. Third, the opponent of the strike must show that the race-neutral explanation given was mere pretext. Id. at 629, 515 S.E.2d at 91; Adams, 322 S.C. at 124, 470 S.E.2d at 372.

A. The Strike & Batson Request

The trial judge must hold a Batson hearing when members of a cognizable racial group are struck and the opposing party requests a hearing. State v. Tucker, 334 S.C. 1, 512 S.E.2d 99 (1999); Jones, 293

649 S.E.2d 119

S.C. at 54, 358 S.E.2d at 701. Any person, regardless of race, may set forth a Batson claim. State v. Chapman, 317 S.C. 302, 454 S.E.2d 317 (1995). Both the defendant...

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  • State v. Lyles, No. 4406.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 6, 2008
    ...S.E.2d 282, 284 (2001) (citing Lee v. Suess, 318 S.C. 283, 285, 457 S.E.2d 344, 346 (1995)); accord State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 553, 649 S.E.2d 112, 117 (Ct.App.2007); State v. Sweet, 374 S.C. 1, 5, 647 S.E.2d 202, 204-205 (2007); State v. Douglas, 367 S.C. 498, 507, 626 S.E.2d 59, 64 (......
  • Horry County v. Parbel, No. 4388.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 12, 2008
    ...641 S.E.2d 873, 877 (2007); State v. Quattlebaum, 338 S.C. 441, 452, 527 S.E.2d 105, 111 (2000); State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 553, 649 S.E.2d 112, 117 (Ct.App.2007); State v. Patterson, 367 S.C. 219, 224, 625 S.E.2d 239, 241 (Ct.App. 2006); State v. Landis, 362 S.C. 97, 101, 606 S.E.2d 5......
  • State v. Langford, No. 27195.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2012
    ...decision on whether to dismiss on speedy trial grounds is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 571, 649 S.E.2d 112, 126 (Ct.App.2007) (applying abuse of discretion standard to speedy trial claim), rev'd on other grounds,384 S.C. 504, 682 S.E.2d 820 (2009)......
  • State v. Langford, Appellate Case No. 2010-173128
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 21, 2012
    ...decision on whether to dismiss on speedy trial grounds is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 571, 649 S.E.2d 112, 126 (Ct. App. 2007) (applying abuse of discretion standard to speedy trial claim), rev'd on other grounds, 384 S.C. 504, 682 S.E.2d 820 (20......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • State v. Lyles, No. 4406.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • June 6, 2008
    ...S.E.2d 282, 284 (2001) (citing Lee v. Suess, 318 S.C. 283, 285, 457 S.E.2d 344, 346 (1995)); accord State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 553, 649 S.E.2d 112, 117 (Ct.App.2007); State v. Sweet, 374 S.C. 1, 5, 647 S.E.2d 202, 204-205 (2007); State v. Douglas, 367 S.C. 498, 507, 626 S.E.2d 59, 64 (......
  • Horry County v. Parbel, No. 4388.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 12, 2008
    ...641 S.E.2d 873, 877 (2007); State v. Quattlebaum, 338 S.C. 441, 452, 527 S.E.2d 105, 111 (2000); State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 553, 649 S.E.2d 112, 117 (Ct.App.2007); State v. Patterson, 367 S.C. 219, 224, 625 S.E.2d 239, 241 (Ct.App. 2006); State v. Landis, 362 S.C. 97, 101, 606 S.E.2d 5......
  • State v. Langford, No. 27195.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2012
    ...decision on whether to dismiss on speedy trial grounds is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 571, 649 S.E.2d 112, 126 (Ct.App.2007) (applying abuse of discretion standard to speedy trial claim), rev'd on other grounds,384 S.C. 504, 682 S.E.2d 820 (2009)......
  • State v. Langford, Appellate Case No. 2010-173128
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 21, 2012
    ...decision on whether to dismiss on speedy trial grounds is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Edwards, 374 S.C. 543, 571, 649 S.E.2d 112, 126 (Ct. App. 2007) (applying abuse of discretion standard to speedy trial claim), rev'd on other grounds, 384 S.C. 504, 682 S.E.2d 820 (20......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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