State v. Gunter

Decision Date20 June 1979
Docket NumberNo. 20992,20992
Citation256 S.E.2d 317,273 S.C. 347
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. James GUNTER, Appellant.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

W. Gaston Fairey, Columbia, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. Daniel R. McLeod, Asst. Atty. Gen. Brian P. Gibbes, Staff Atty. Lindy P. Funkhouser, and Sol. James C. Anders, Columbia, for respondent.

NESS, Justice:

Appellant was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and sentenced to twenty-five years, suspended upon the service of ten years. We affirm.

According to the victim, Alberta Mills, appellant came to her door at 6:00 a. m. on August 6, 1977, to see her boyfriend. When told he was not there, he asked to use the bathroom. He subsequently forced her into the bedroom and raped her at knife point.

Initially appellant asserts the trial court erred in requiring him to disclose his theory of defense prior to the beginning of appellant's case. The court ruled that before appellant could question the prosecutrix about whether she had venereal disease, he had to make an In camera offer of proof pursuant to Code § 16-3-659.1 (1976 Cum.Supp.1978).

While cross-examining Ms. Mills, appellant's counsel attempted to question her regarding venereal disease. The solicitor objected to the line of questioning as being violative of the statute, and the jury was excused. During the hearing before the trial court, it became apparent that appellant's counsel sought to elicit testimony regarding the victim's venereal disease in order to demonstrate she had given the disease to appellant in prior intercourse. Thus the evidence to be presented involved "evidence of the victim's sexual conduct with the defendant."

While such evidence is not proscribed by Code § 16-3-659.1, subsection (2) provides that if the defendant proposes to offer evidence of the victim's sexual conduct with the defendant, he "shall file a written motion and offer of proof" and the "court shall order an in-camera hearing to determine whether the proposed evidence is admissible . . ."

This procedure was followed and the trial court concluded the evidence was admissible. The prosecutrix was returned to the stand in the jury's presence, and the solicitor was permitted to examine her on the issue of venereal disease. Appellant's counsel then fully cross-examined Ms. Mills.

We fail to understand how appellant was prejudiced by the precautionary procedure followed by the trial court. To ensure that the proposed questions were admissible under Code § 16-3-659.1, the trial court required appellant to submit to an in-camera hearing. Although appellant contends he was prejudiced by having to disclose his defense prior to offering his case in chief, this result was occasioned by appellant's own examination of Ms. Mills, and was unavoidable under the terms of the statute. We conclude the trial court did not err in following the procedure required by Code § 16-3-659.1.

Appellant next contends the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial based...

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4 cases
  • State v. Hyman, 21524
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • July 22, 1981
    ...court is concerned only with the existence of evidence, not its weight in ruling on a motion for a directed verdict. State v. Gunter, 273 S.C. 347, 256 S.E.2d 317 (1979). In reviewing the denial of a motion for a directed verdict in a criminal case, the evidence must be viewed in the light ......
  • State v. Butler
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • February 22, 1982
    ...circumstance of rape to the jury. A trial court is concerned only with the existence of evidence, not its weight. State v. Gunter, 273 S.C. 347, 256 S.E.2d 317 (1979). And the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the State. State v. Hill, 268 S.C. 390, 234 S.E.2d 219 (1977......
  • State v. Pierce, 22597
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • January 7, 1986
    ...evidence, but only with the existence of evidence. State v. Butler, 277 S.C. 452, 457, 290 S.E.2d 1, 4 (1982), citing State v. Gunter, 273 S.C. 347, 256 S.E.2d 317 (1979). In this case, the trial judge was required by law to instruct the jury on statutory mitigating circumstances 2, 6, and ......
  • State v. Perry, 22004
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • November 9, 1983
    ...on motions for directed verdict, a trial court is concerned only with the existence of evidence, not its weight. State v. Gunter, 273 S.C. 347, 256 S.E.2d 317 (1979); State v. Butler, 277 S.C. 452, 457, 290 S.E.2d 1 (1982). "--[t]he evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the......

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