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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Court of Appeals Published Opinions - April 2013

Note: Beginning in June 2012, opinions will be posted as Adobe PDFs. You can download a free copy of Adobe Reader here.

The summary following each opinion is prepared to offer lawyers and the public a general overview of what a particular opinion decides. The summary is not necessarily a full description of the issues discussed in an opinion.

4-3-2013 - Opinions

5109 - State v. Tynes

The court affirmed Mario Tynes's convictions for first-degree burglary, armed robbery, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and unlawful carrying of a pistol, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to suppress evidence found during a vehicle search, (2) the trial court did not err in refusing to allow evidence that the State could require one of its witnesses to submit to a polygraph examination, and (3) the trial court did not err in allowing the State's DNA expert to testify that Tynes could not be excluded as a DNA contributor.

5110 - State v. Bruce

Roger Bruce was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Laura Creel. On appeal, he argues the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the discovery of Creel's body, which was found in the trunk of her car, because the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. We remand to the trial court to determine (1) whether Bruce had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the trunk of Creel's car, (2) whether Bruce consented to the search, and (3) if it is found the police violated Bruce's Fourth Amendment rights, whether the exclusionary rule applies.

5111 - State v. Dennis

A jury convicted Alonza Dennis of assault and battery with intent to kill (ABWIK) and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. He appeals, arguing the trial court erred in (1) admitting testimony that he offered to sell a purportedly stolen gun to buy crack cocaine shortly before the shooting; (2) refusing to charge the jury on assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN); (3) sentencing him to life without parole (LWOP); and (4) admitting his two written statements into evidence. We affirm.

4-10-2013 - Opinions

5112 - Walker v. Brooks

Catherine W. Brooks appeals the Special Referee's (Referee) ruling that she held only an equitable mortgage on the subject property. We reverse.

5113 - Regions Bank v. Owens

In this appeal from a mortgage foreclosure action, William Owens argues the master-in-equity erred in denying his motion to set aside entry of default. Owens contends the master erred in finding he failed to demonstrate good cause for failing to answer Regions Bank's (the Bank) summons and complaint as required by Rule 55(c), SCRCP.

4-11-2013 - Opinions

5114 - State v. Blakely

Appellant Teresa Blakely appeals her conviction for accessory after the fact to a felony. On appeal, Blakely raises multiple due process arguments, including: (1) the vindictive prosecution in this matter is barred; (2) the indictment for accessory after the fact to a felony following Blakely's acquittal of murder violates due process; and (3) the State's inconsistent positions in two separate criminal proceedings against the same defendant is prohibited. We affirm.

4-17-2013 - Opinions

5115 - Schultze v. Schultze

Heather Schultze appeals the family court's decree of divorce that (1) equitably apportioned one-half of her retirement account to John Schultze, (2) ordered Heather to pay twenty-five percent of the marital debts, and (3) ordered payment of $3,750 in attorney's fees to Heather. We reverse the court's finding regarding personal property, affirm the finding regarding the marital debts, and remand the award of attorney's fees.

5116 - Hawkins v. Hawkins

Charles A. Hawkins (Father) appeals the family court's determination that he was not entitled to a termination or reduction of his child support payments. Specifically, he argues the family court erred by using an improper burden of proof, or in the alternative, the family court erred in its failure to properly recalculate his child support payments. Lastly, Father contends the family court erred in awarding Angela D. Hawkins (Mother) attorney's fees, but failing to award his attorney's fees. We affirm.

5118 - Smith v. D.R. Horton

D.R. Horton, Inc. (Horton) appeals the circuit court's order denying its motion to compel arbitration in this construction defects action filed by Gregory W. and Stephanie Smith. Horton argues the circuit court erred in finding the arbitration clause unenforceable (1) under the South Carolina Uniform Arbitration Act (SCUAA); (2) as unconscionable; (3) under an unequal-bargaining-power theory; (4) under a lack-of-consideration theory; (5) under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA); and (6) under a merger-by-deed theory. We affirm.

5119 - State v. Spears

Brian K. Spears appeals his convictions for murder and three counts of assault and battery with intent to kill (ABWIK). On appeal, Spears argues the trial court improperly admitted evidence of a prior shooting incident between Spears and Aaron Hammonds (Victim) that occurred one month before Victim was killed. Spears contends the trial court failed to conduct a balancing test to determine if the probative value of the prior shooting testimony was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice to Spears. We remand.