In The Court of Appeals

The State,        Respondent.


Jack Jenkins Rowland,        Appellant.

Appeal From York County
Henry F. Floyd, Circuit Court Judge

Unpublished Opinion No. 2003-UP-057
Submitted November 4, 2002 B Filed January 17, 2003


Assistant Appellate Defender Tara S. Taggart, of Columbia, for appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh and Assistant Attorney General Charles H. Richardson, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Thomas E. Pope, of York, for respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Jack Jenkins Rowland appeals his conviction for strong arm robbery, arguing the trial court erred in failing to direct a verdict of not guilty.  We affirm. 


In the early morning hours of October 20, 1999, Tina Sulls was working at a Hot Spot convenience store in Bowling Green.  As Sulls rose from dropping change in the store safe, she noticed a man outside pull a bag over his head and duck behind an ice machine.  The man entered the store, approached Sulls, and told her to give him all the money; she complied and the unarmed robber left. 

Sulls immediately recognized the robber as a regular customer who sometimes came in two or three times a day, though she did not know his name. Sulls phoned police and, upon their arrival, described the man.  She said he had been in the store a couple of days before.  Afterward, the store manager suggested they review old surveillance tapes to see if any other employee recognized the robber.  In the presence of the police, they viewed the tapes and a fellow employee was able to identify Rowland by name. 

On March 23, 2000, a York County grand jury indicted Rowland for strong arm robbery.  Rowland was tried by a jury April 12-13, 2000.  At the close of the evidence the court charged the jury on strong arm robbery and petit larceny.  The jury convicted Rowland of robbery and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years, suspended on service of six plus five years probation.  This appeal followed. 


Standard of Review

In considering a motion for directed verdict in a criminal case, all evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the State.  State v. Fennell, 340 S.C. 266, 531 S.E.2d 512 (2000).  The trial court is Aconcerned with the existence or non-existence of evidence, not its weight.@  State v. Pinckney, 339 S.C. 346, 349, 529 S.E.2d 526, 527 (2000).  If the State presents direct or substantial circumstantial evidence reasonably tending to prove guilt, or from which guilt can be logically deduced, this Court must find the trial court properly denied the motion.  State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 541 S.E.2d 254 (2001).  On the other hand, even when viewed in a light most favorable to the State, if the evidence presented does not reasonably tend to prove guilt, the motion should be granted.  Id.

Rowland contends the trial court erred in failing to direct a verdict on the charge of strong arm robbery, claiming the State failed to present evidence of an essential element of the crime.  We disagree. 

"Strong arm robbery is defined as the >felonious or unlawful taking of money, goods, or other personal property of any value from the person of another or in his presence by violence or by putting such person in fear."  State v. Gourdine, 322 S.C. 396, 398, 472 S.E.2d 241, 241 (1996) (emphasis added) (quoting State v. Drayton, 293 S.C. 417, 361 S.E.2d 329, 335 (1987)); see Dukes v. State, 248 S.C. 227, 232, 149 S.E.2d 598, 599 (1966) ("Robbery is larceny from the person or immediate presence of another by violence or intimidation.") (emphasis added); State v. Brown, 274 S.C. 48, 49, 260 S.E.2d 719, 720 (1979) ("The common‑law offense of robbery is essentially the commission of larceny with force."); Young v. State, 259 S.C. 383, 386, 192 S.E.2d 212, 214 (1972) ("[Robbery] is basically larceny compounded or aggravated by force used in the taking of property from the person or in the presence of another."), overruled in part on other grounds by State v. Parker, Op. No. 25538 (S.C. Sup. Ct. filed Oct. 14, 2002) (Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 34).

Although Sulls testified she first thought the robbery was a joke, she later stated twice that she was scared.  According to Sulls, Rowland, after donning a bag to obscure his face, entered the store and her "to give him all the money, in a low, raspy voice . . . ."  When asked how that made her feel, Sulls responded:  "It scared me."  Then, the following exchange occurred on re-direct: 

Q: What were your emotions when he was asking you that, telling you to give him the money?

A: I was scared to death.  I was shaking.  It hadn't happened to me before then.

In a recent case, this Court discussed the force element of robbery: 

Generally the element of force in the offense of robbery may be actual or constructive.  Actual force implies physical violence.  Under constructive force are included "all demonstrations of force, menaces, and other means by which the person robbed is put in fear sufficient to suspend the free exercise of his will or prevent resistance to the taking . . . .  No matter how slight the cause creating the fear may be or by what other circumstances the taking may be accomplished, if the transaction is attended with such circumstances of terror, such as threatening by word or gesture, as in common experience are likely to create an apprehension of danger and induce a man to part with his property for the sake of his person, the victim is put in fear." 

State v. Rosemond, 348 S.C. 621, 629, 560 S.E.2d 636, 641 (Ct. App. 2002) (citations omitted). 

We agree with the trial court that the State presented evidence sufficient to send the case to the jury.  Sulls testimony that the incident occurred late at night, that Rowland obscured his face and demanded all the store's money, that she was "scared to death" and "shaking," and that she gave Rowland the money because she "didn't want to be hurt," was evidence of constructive force and intimidation tending to show Sulls was put in such fear as to suspend the free exercise of her will and prevent resistance to the taking. 


GOOLSBY, HUFF, and SHULER, JJ., concur