In The Court of Appeals

The State,        Respondent,


Willie E. Major,        Appellant.

Appeal From Kershaw County
R. Markley Dennis, Jr., Circuit Court Judge

Opinion No. 2003-UP-87
Submitted November 20, 2002 - January 29, 2003


Assistant Appellate Defender Aileen P. Claire, of Columbia, for appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney Charles H. Richardson, Assistant Attorney David Spencer, and Solicitor Warren B. Giese, all of Columbia, for respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Willie E. Major was convicted of grand larceny and three counts of third-degree burglary.  He was sentenced to a total of five-years imprisonment on all charges. Major appeals, arguing the trial court abused its discretion by denying Major’s motion for a new trial where after-discovered evidence demonstrated that a key witness committed perjury.


On July 8, 2000, Major, Steve Cannon, and Gary Morris discussed renting two U-Haul trucks to use the next day in stealing furniture and appliances from mobile homes.  Later that day, Major rented the trucks in his name.

At approximately 5:00 a.m. on July 9, 2000, Major called Cannon to coordinate the pickup of the U-Haul trucks.  The three men met at approximately 5:30 a.m. and drove the U-Haul trucks to a mobile home park. They loaded the first truck with furniture and appliances taken from several mobile homes.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., a witness drove into the mobile home park.  The witness noticed two U-Haul trucks and men loading furniture into one of the trucks.  Believing this activity to be suspicious, the witness called police.  After seeing the witness, Cannon and Morris immediately drove the U-Haul trucks from the mobile home park.   Police stopped the vehicles on the interstate.

Major was subsequently indicted for grand larceny and three counts of third-degree burglary.  A jury found him guilty on all charges.  Major appeals.


“[A]bsent error of law or abuse of discretion, an appellate court will not disturb the trial judge’s denial of the motion [for a new trial based on after-discovered evidence].” State v. Needs, 333 S.C. 134, 158, 508 S.E.2d 857, 869 (1998).


Major argues the trial court abused its discretion by denying Major’s motion for a new trial where after-discovered evidence demonstrated that a key witness committed perjury.

To prevail on a motion for a new trial based on after-discovered evidence, a defendant must show (1) the evidence is such as will probably change the result if a new trial is granted; (2) the evidence has been discovered since the trial; (3) the evidence could not have been discovered prior to trial by the exercise of due diligence; (4) the evidence is material; and (5) the evidence is not merely cumulative or impeaching.

Needs, 333 S.C. at 157-58, 508 S.E.2d at 869; Hayden v. State, 278 S.C. 610, 611, 299 S.E.2d 854, 855 (1983).

At trial, Major testified that on the day of the incident he was not with Cannon and Morris.  Specifically, he stated that from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. he was at the Waffle House.  After leaving the restaurant, Major stated he went to Morris’ house where he spent time talking to Morris’ wife (“Witness”).  Major stated that he left Morris’ house at 11:00 a.m.

In reply to this alibi testimony, Witness testified that she left her house shortly before 6:00 a.m. to ensure that she arrived at work on time.  She stated that her brother stayed at her house to babysit her eleven-year-old daughter.  Witness testified that she returned to the house at 1:00 p.m.

After the close of evidence, Major’s attorney learned that Witness had committed perjury by saying that she had been at work on the day of the incident.  Instead of being at work, she had actually left the house to meet with a paramour.

Despite Major’s claim, his argument fails for several reasons.  Major has failed to demonstrate the after-discovered evidence would change the outcome in a new trial.  Major admitted to renting the two U-Haul trucks.  Phone records establish that Major made phone calls to Cannon at 5:00 a.m. and at 5:30 a.m. on the day of the incident.  Several witnesses testified that Major, Cannon, and Morris met around 5:30 a.m.  Both Cannon and Morris testified that Major participated in the grand larceny and the robberies that took place that morning.  Thus, even if a new trial were granted, the result of the new trial would likely not be different from the original trial. See Needs, 333 S.C. at 158, 508 S.E.2d at 869 (holding appellant did not meet burden to show that after-discovered evidence would likely change the result if a new trial was granted, even though “the State’s case against appellant was not overwhelming”).

Additionally, Major has failed to show that he acted with due diligence.  Witness was available before trial for the defense to interview.  The defense chose not to interview her.  Thus, the fact that Witness was not at work on the day in question could have been discovered by Major’s attorney if he had acted with due diligence. See State v. Kelly, 285 S.C. 373, 374, 329 S.E.2d 442, 443 (1985) (holding trial court properly denied motion for a new trial based on after-discovered evidence because appellant did not make a showing that evidence could not have been discovered with due diligence prior to trial when appellant and her private investigator spoke to witness before trial but failed to adequately question the witness).

Furthermore, Major has failed to establish that the after-discovered evidence did more than merely impeach Witness’ credibility.  The perjured testimony addressed Witness’ whereabouts after she left the house, not whether she left the house.  Part of Major’s alibi for the time when the crimes were committed was that he was at Morris’ house having a conversation with Witness from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  Witness testified that she left the house shortly before 6:00 a.m. and did not return until after 1:00 p.m., meaning that she was not at home during the time Major claims to have visited with her.  In addition, both Morris and Witness’ brother testified that the brother stayed at the house to watch the Morris’ daughter because neither parent would be home after 6:00 a.m.  Thus, the perjured testimony merely impeached Witness’ credibility and did not affect the strength of Major’s alibi. See State v. Caskey, 273 S.C. 325, 330, 256 S.E.2d 737, 739 (1979) (holding defendant was not entitled to a new trial when after-discovered evidence merely impeached the witness’ credibility and was “not material to appellant’s guilt or innocence”).  Based on the above discussions, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Major’s motion for a new trial.


For the foregoing reasons, the trial court’s decision is



[1] Because oral argument would not aid the Court in resolving any issue on appeal, we decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215 and 220(b)(2), SCACR.