State v. Lollis, No. 25240.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTOAL, Chief Justice
Citation541 S.E.2d 254,343 S.C. 580
Decision Date29 January 2001
Docket NumberNo. 25240.
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Harry Wesley LOLLIS, Petitioner.

343 S.C. 580
541 S.E.2d 254

The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Harry Wesley LOLLIS, Petitioner

No. 25240.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard December 5, 2000.

Decided January 29, 2001.


343 S.C. 581
Michael W. Barcroft, of Greenville, for petitioner

Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert E. Bogan, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Robert M. Ariail, of Greenville, for respondent.

TOAL, Chief Justice:

On May 10, 2000, this Court granted Harry Wesley Lollis' ("Lollis") petition for a writ of certiorari to review the Court of Appeals' decision in State v. Lollis, Op. No. 99-UP-488 (S.C. Ct.App. filed September 29, 1999). We reverse.

FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 19, 1998, at 9:05 a.m.,the Liberty Fire Department responded to a fire at Lollis' mobile home. Later that day, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division ("SLED") Arson Hotline received an anonymous tip concerning the fire. David Tafaoa ("Agent Tafaoa"), a SLED arson investigator, investigated the tip and opined the fire was intentionally set.

Agent Tafaoa's investigation revealed there were two areas of fire origination, the kitchen stove and another unconnected fire in the hallway. At the kitchen stove origination site, some type of paper product was rolled and placed between the skillet and the electric coil of the stove, and the eye of the skillet was turned to "high." Agent Tafaoa was further

343 S.C. 582
convinced the fire was intentionally set because many personal items were missing from the mobile home. For example, there were nails and screws in the walls, but there was nothing hanging on them or located on the floor beneath them. Also, a gun rack and a soft gun case were found in the master bedroom, but neither contained a gun. Furthermore, there was nothing in the night stand drawers, there was only one pair of shoes in the closet, and there was no VCR, even though a VCR cable and a few tapes were found in the mobile home

On the day of the fire, Lollis' common law wife, Tammy Burgess ("Burgess"), confessed in a statement to Agent Tafaoa that she was depressed about her husband's financial condition and intentionally started the fire by leaving a pan of grease on a hot eye of the stove. Burgess admitted Lollis was unaware of her plans to burn their home. She further confessed she took most of their valuables and placed them in a storage room they rented five days prior to the fire. According to Agent Tafaoa, Burgess burned the mobile home so the insurance company would pay the mortgage, their largest debt.

Lollis denies he had any involvement with the fire. He claims he never asked, encouraged, or aided Burgess in the burning of their home. According to Lollis, he had no reason to burn his home because it was being extensively remodeled when the fire occurred. Lollis claims he placed his personal items in the storage room on the day of the fire because he did not want his valuables ruined by drywall dust while he remodeled his home.

The State offered no evidence of Lollis' alleged financial trouble. On cross examination, the State's witness from the finance company testified Lollis was current on his mortgage payment at the time of the fire. Lollis also testified he was current on his accounts to Commercial Credit, Friendly Loans, State Farm Insurance, and Macy's Credit.

Lollis had an outstanding mortgage at the time of the fire. In October 1997, Lollis financed his home in order to pay for carpeting, delinquent taxes, and other matters. Because Lollis did not have homeowner's insurance, the finance company required that insurance be placed on the home in order to cover its mortgage. After the fire, the insurance company

343 S.C. 583
fully paid Lollis' mortgage. However, Lollis did not receive any money for his personalty destroyed in the fire because the items were not insured

Agent Tafaoa was convinced Lollis conspired with his wife to commit arson because Lollis possessed the key to the storage room, which contained many of their valuable personal items, when he accompanied Burgess to the law enforcement center. Lollis was arrested a week after the fire and charged with second degree arson.

On July 23, 1998, Lollis was convicted of second degree arson and sentenced to six years incarceration. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. State v. Lollis, Op. No. 99-UP-488 (S.C. Ct.App. filed September 29, 1999). The Court of Appeals denied Lollis' Petition for Rehearing on November 16, 1999. Lollis now seeks an order reversing the Court of Appeals' decision...

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61 practice notes
  • State v. Cherry, No. 25902.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 29, 2004
    ...127. "Suspicion" implies a belief or opinion as to guilt based upon facts or circumstances which do not amount to proof. State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001). However, a trial judge is not required to find that the evidence infers guilt to the exclusion of any other reasonab......
  • State v. Moore, No. 4247.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 18, 2007
    ...guilt that is based upon facts or circumstances that do not amount to proof. Cherry, 361 S.C. at 594, 606 S.E.2d at 478; State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001); Zeigler 364 S.C. at 103, 610 S.E.2d at 863. A trial judge is not required to find that the evidence infers guilt to ......
  • State v. Cherry, No. 3406.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 13, 2001
    ...added). Subsequent courts have adopted this language. See, e.g., State v. McHoney, 344 S.C. 85, 544 S.E.2d 30 (2001); State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001); State v. Pinckney, 339 S.C. 346, 529 S.E.2d 526 (2000); State v. Johnson, 334 S.C. 78, 512 S.E.2d 795 (1999); State v. ......
  • State v. Al-Amin, No. 3602.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 3, 2003
    ...which reasonably tends to prove the guilt of the accused, or from which his guilt may be fairly and logically deduced. State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001). On the other hand, a defendant is entitled to a directed verdict when the State fails to produce any direct or substan......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • State v. Cherry, No. 25902.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 29, 2004
    ...127. "Suspicion" implies a belief or opinion as to guilt based upon facts or circumstances which do not amount to proof. State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001). However, a trial judge is not required to find that the evidence infers guilt to the exclusion of any other reasonab......
  • State v. Moore, No. 4247.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 18, 2007
    ...guilt that is based upon facts or circumstances that do not amount to proof. Cherry, 361 S.C. at 594, 606 S.E.2d at 478; State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001); Zeigler 364 S.C. at 103, 610 S.E.2d at 863. A trial judge is not required to find that the evidence infers guilt to ......
  • State v. Cherry, No. 3406.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 13, 2001
    ...added). Subsequent courts have adopted this language. See, e.g., State v. McHoney, 344 S.C. 85, 544 S.E.2d 30 (2001); State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001); State v. Pinckney, 339 S.C. 346, 529 S.E.2d 526 (2000); State v. Johnson, 334 S.C. 78, 512 S.E.2d 795 (1999); State v. ......
  • State v. Al-Amin, No. 3602.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 3, 2003
    ...which reasonably tends to prove the guilt of the accused, or from which his guilt may be fairly and logically deduced. State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001). On the other hand, a defendant is entitled to a directed verdict when the State fails to produce any direct or substan......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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