State v. Glenn, No. 2678

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtHOWELL
Citation328 S.C. 300,492 S.E.2d 393
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. David L. GLENN, Appellant. . Heard
Decision Date08 April 1997
Docket NumberNo. 2678

Page 393

492 S.E.2d 393
328 S.C. 300
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
David L. GLENN, Appellant.
No. 2678.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard April 8, 1997.
Decided June 9, 1997.
Refiled Sept. 19, 1997.

[328 S.C. 302] Ivan J. Toney, Anderson, for appellant.

Attorney General Charles Molony Condon, Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W.

Page 394

Elliott, and Senior Assistant Attorney General Norman Mark Rapoport, Columbia; and Solicitor George M. Ducworth, Anderson, for respondent.

HOWELL, Chief Judge:

David L. Glenn appeals from his conviction for assault and battery with intent to kill. We affirm.

I.

Sara LeCroy lives approximately four miles from Interstate 85 on Old Dobbins Bridge Road in Anderson County. Glenn lives in the same area as LeCroy.

In March 1994, LeCroy removed a white porcelain toilet from her house and placed it in her yard behind the mailbox. LeCroy and her daughter-in-law placed potting soil in the toilet and planted flowers in it. On Saturday night, April 9, [328 S.C. 303] 1994, the toilet was still in LeCroy's yard. Sometime after midnight that night, LeCroy was awakened by a loud car or truck "taking off." The next morning, the toilet was gone.

At approximately 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 10, 1994, Gene Allen was traveling northbound on Interstate 85. He was driving a tractor trailer from Gainesville, Georgia, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts. As he approached an interstate overpass at the five-mile marker in Anderson County, Allen saw two young white males and a car on the overpass. One of the men was standing at the front of the car, while the other was standing at the rear of the car on the passenger side. As Allen was coming to the overpass, his vehicle was hit by a large white object, coming through the windshield and roof of the tractor. Although Allen was severely injured, 1 he managed to stop his rig. Allen testified that he never actually saw the object before it hit his truck; however, the record makes clear that the object was a toilet containing some fertilizer or potting soil.

Michael Ingle, another truck driver, testified that he was driving on the interstate that same night and encountered a car door lying in the highway. Ingle went to a truck stop and called the police to inform them about the debris on the road. At approximately 2:00 a.m., Ingle returned to the interstate, where, near the five-mile marker, he saw Allen's truck pulled over on the side of the road. Ingle helped Allen out of his truck and drove him to the hospital. Ingle testified that he observed broken pieces of white porcelain in Allen's truck and on the roadway.

Allen's truck was towed from the scene by a local towing company. The trucking company then picked up the truck and returned it to its terminal in Norcross, Georgia.

After hearing about the incident, Larry Duckett, Glenn's cousin, contacted the victim and the police, telling them that Glenn was the only person in the community that Duckett thought might be capable of committing the crime. Duckett reached this conclusion because, sometime during the previous year, Glenn told Duckett that he had been throwing items at [328 S.C. 304] moving vehicles. According to Duckett, Glenn thought his pranks were funny. Glenn also told Duckett that he wondered what it would feel like to kill someone.

Officer Tim Jones of the Anderson County Sheriff's Department began investigating the case on Monday, April 11, 1994. He testified that there were numerous pieces of the shattered toilet in the median and emergency lane of the interstate. As to the railing on the overpass in question, Jones stated "it looked like someone had taken their hand and taken it like this on the bridge rail and wiped it off. You know, it was like eight fingers swiped on it. It looked like it was potting soil." Jones further testified that he and Sergeant Frank Kirkman travelled to Norcross to view Allen's truck. Jones observed numerous pieces of white porcelain and what appeared to be potting soil inside the truck.

Sergeant Kirkman, who was in charge of the forensic unit, testified that he collected several pieces of porcelain from inside the truck. He also stated that he observed a material appearing to be potting soil inside

Page 395

the truck. Kirkman processed a piece of the porcelain for fingerprints and turned the porcelain over to the evidence custodian. Deputy Sheriff Buddy Ellison, the evidence custodian, testified that he received a particular piece of the porcelain toilet bowl from Sergeant Kirkman on April 14, 1994. Ellison stated it had been stored in a locked evidence closet since that time. The trial court admitted the fragment into evidence over Glenn's objection. Sergeant Kirkman then testified that a fingerprint he raised from the porcelain fragment matched a known fingerprint of David Glenn.

Several days after the incident, and after Glenn's fingerprint was recovered from the porcelain fragment, Detective Jones interviewed Glenn. Glenn gave a written statement in which he denied any connection to the incident. According to Glenn, he went out with his wife on the night in question and returned home around 9:00 p.m. A friend, John Hayes, came by Glenn's house later that night, but they did not go anywhere. Glenn stated that he went to work the following morning about 7:00 a.m. Glenn denied throwing the commode off the bridge. Although Glenn had been in LeCroy's home [328 S.C. 305] more than eight years prior to the incident, Glenn specifically denied having any contact with LeCroy's commode.

II.

On appeal, Glenn first argues that the trial court erred by admitting the porcelain fragment from which Glenn's fingerprint was obtained. According to Glenn, because the State did not present the testimony of the first officer on the scene of the accident, the State failed to properly establish the chain of custody of the porcelain fragment from the time it came into the possession of the police. Moreover, Glenn argues that, because the police never had custody of the truck from which the fragment was obtained and did not retrieve the fragment until a day after the crime, "the State failed to establish safe-keeping of the evidence and the State failed to establish a complete chain of custody." We disagree.

Because fungible items such as drugs or blood samples are not readily identifiable and may be easily tampered with, the party offering such items into evidence must establish a chain of custody as far as practicable. See, e.g., State v. Cribb, 310 S.C. 518, 426 S.E.2d 306 (1992); Benton v. Pellum, 232 S.C. 26, 100 S.E.2d 534 (1957); State v. Johnson, 318 S.C. 194, 456 S.E.2d 442 (Ct.App.1995), cert. denied (December 8, 1995). Where the analyzed substance has passed through several hands, the evidence must not leave it to conjecture as to who had it and what was done with it between the taking and analysis. However, the proof of chain of custody need not negate all possibility of tampering, but instead must only establish a complete chain of evidence as far as practicable. State v. Williams, 297 S.C. 290, 376 S.E.2d 773 (1989); Johnson, 318 S.C. at 196, 456 S.E.2d at 443.

While the chain of custody requirement is strict where fungible evidence is involved, where the issue is the admissibility of non-fungible evidence--that is, evidence that is unique and identifiable--the establishment of a strict chain of custody is not required:

If the offered item possesses characteristics which are fairly unique and readily identifiable, and if the substance of which the item is composed is relatively impervious to change, the trial court is viewed as having broad discretion to admit [328 S.C. 306] merely on the basis of testimony that the item is the one in question and is in a substantially unchanged condition. On the other hand, if the offered evidence is of such a nature as not to be readily identifiable, or to be susceptible to alteration by tampering or contamination, sound exercise of the trial court's discretion may require a substantially more elaborate foundation. A foundation of the latter sort will commonly entail testimony tracing the "chain of custody" of the item with sufficient completeness to render it reasonably probable that the original item has neither been exchanged with another nor been...

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8 practice notes
  • Gilbert v. Moore, Nos. 96-12
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • January 22, 1998
    ...intent on doing wrong." State v. Johnson, 291 S.C. 127, 352 S.E.2d 480, 481 (1987) (per curiam); Page 647 see also State v. Glenn, 492 S.E.2d 393, 398 (S.C.Ct.App.1997) ("Malice is the doing of a wrongful act intentionally and without just cause or excuse."). Although an unju......
  • State v. Wilds, No. 3668.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 21, 2003
    ...all the elements of murder except the death of the victim. State v. Foust, 325 S.C. 12, 14, 479 S.E.2d 50, 51 (1996); State v. Glenn, 328 S.C. 300, 310, 492 S.E.2d 393, 398 (Ct.App.1997); see S.C.Code Ann. § 16-3-10 (2003) ("`Murder' is the killing of any person with malice aforethough......
  • State v. Freiburger, No. 26042.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 2, 2005
    ...on the basis of testimony that the item is the one in question and is in a substantially unchanged Page 742 condition. State v. Glenn, 328 S.C. 300, 305-306, 492 S.E.2d 393, 395 Given the serial number and markings on the gun, and the fact that a gun is a non-fungible item, we find the chai......
  • Carter v. Warden of Lieber Corr. Inst., 6:20-cv-04020-DCC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 28, 2021
    ...to trial does not make the evidence inadmissible. Several witnesses testified the evidence was what it purported to be. State v. Glenn, 328 S.C. 300, 305, 492 S.E.2d 393, 395 (Ct. 1997) (“While the chain of custody requirement is strict where fungible evidence is involved, where the issue i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Gilbert v. Moore, Nos. 96-12
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • January 22, 1998
    ...intent on doing wrong." State v. Johnson, 291 S.C. 127, 352 S.E.2d 480, 481 (1987) (per curiam); Page 647 see also State v. Glenn, 492 S.E.2d 393, 398 (S.C.Ct.App.1997) ("Malice is the doing of a wrongful act intentionally and without just cause or excuse."). Although an unju......
  • State v. Wilds, No. 3668.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 21, 2003
    ...all the elements of murder except the death of the victim. State v. Foust, 325 S.C. 12, 14, 479 S.E.2d 50, 51 (1996); State v. Glenn, 328 S.C. 300, 310, 492 S.E.2d 393, 398 (Ct.App.1997); see S.C.Code Ann. § 16-3-10 (2003) ("`Murder' is the killing of any person with malice aforethough......
  • State v. Freiburger, No. 26042.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 2, 2005
    ...on the basis of testimony that the item is the one in question and is in a substantially unchanged Page 742 condition. State v. Glenn, 328 S.C. 300, 305-306, 492 S.E.2d 393, 395 Given the serial number and markings on the gun, and the fact that a gun is a non-fungible item, we find the chai......
  • Carter v. Warden of Lieber Corr. Inst., 6:20-cv-04020-DCC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 28, 2021
    ...to trial does not make the evidence inadmissible. Several witnesses testified the evidence was what it purported to be. State v. Glenn, 328 S.C. 300, 305, 492 S.E.2d 393, 395 (Ct. 1997) (“While the chain of custody requirement is strict where fungible evidence is involved, where the issue i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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