THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals
The State, Respondent,
Josh S. Sweet, Appellant.
Appeal From Horry County
John M. Milling, Circuit Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 2003-UP-393
Submitted April 18, 2003 – Filed June 12, 2003
Senior Assistant Appellate Defender Wanda H. Haile, of Columbia; for Appellant.
Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster; Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh; Assistant Deputy Attorney General Charles H. Richardson; Senior Assistant Attorney General Harold M. Coombs,Jr., of Columbia; John Gregory Hembree, of Conway; for Respondent.
PER CURIAM: Josh S. Sweet (Sweet) appeals from his conviction for assault and battery with intent to kill (ABIK) arguing the trial court erred in admitting his brass knuckles and a photograph of victim’s stab wound into evidence.
On the night of June 6, 1999, Matthew J. Bennett (Victim) and his friends were celebrating graduation and talking with some girls at the Viking Motel in Myrtle Beach. At some point during this informal mixer with the girls, Sweet and his own gang of friends exchanged insults with Joshua Zain (Victim’s friend). After the hotel manager asked the two groups to leave the motel premises, they met up again a couple of blocks down the street. The confrontation between the boys escalated until Victim and Sweet pushed one another and Sweet stabbed Victim in the chest. Prior to the stabbing and immediately following it, Sweet brandished brass knuckles.
Sweet was arrested and convicted of ABIK. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Sweet contends the trial court erred in admitting the brass knuckles into evidence. We disagree.
Prior to trial, Sweet moved to suppress evidence that he was in possession of brass knuckles because he had been convicted of that offense in summary court and the brass knuckles were not used on the victim. The State noted that Sweet had the knuckles prior to, during and after the offense. The State argued the knuckles went to Sweet’s intent at the time the altercation occurred and to corroborate the testimony of eyewitnesses who saw Sweet with the knuckles at the scene. The trial court denied Sweet’s motion to suppress in limine finding Sweet’s possession of the brass knuckles showed intent. The court suppressed any evidence of Sweet’s prior conviction in city court for having the knuckles.
At trial, Victim testified, without objection, that he had seen Sweet with brass knuckles at the motel. An eyewitness to the stabbing testified, without objection, Sweet held brass knuckles in one hand and something shiny in the other when he pushed victim. The same eyewitness testified Sweet brandished the brass knuckles and threatened him when the witness pursued him after the stabbing. An Officer testified, without objection, Sweet pulled out his brass knuckles in a threatening way during the arrest. Finally, the brass knuckles were introduced into evidence. The State’s brief indicates the admission of the knuckles themselves came in over Sweet’s objection. However, the record on appeal only reveals a bench conference was held off the record just prior to the admission of the evidence. There is nothing in the record to indicate Sweet made any objection on the record to the multiple testimonies regarding the knuckles or their ultimate admission after the initial motion in limine.
Even if we were to find the admission of the brass knuckles to be improper, Sweet would still fail. Under a harmless error analysis we conclude that the admission of the knuckles themselves was cumulative to the testimony of several witnesses regarding Sweet’s possession and use of them before, during and immediately following the stabbing. No error.
Next, Sweet insists the trial court erred in admitting a photograph of the Victim’s stab wound. We disagree.
Prior to trial, Sweet moved to suppress the photograph on the ground that it was more prejudicial than probative because it was a close-up photo of a bloody, open wound. Sweet also noted that there would be testimony form a physician regarding the nature and description of the wound. (R. 3-4) The trial court denied the motion finding the photograph depicting the nature of the wound and its size established evidence of ABIK and was thus more probative than prejudicial. (R. 4)
During trial, the photograph of the chest wound was published to the jury without objection. The relevance, materiality, and admissibility of photographs are matters within the sound discretion of the trial court and a ruling will be disturbed only upon a showing of abuse of discretion. State v. Rosemond, 335 S.C. 593, 518 S.E.2d 588 (1999). If the offered photograph serves to corroborate testimony, it is not an abuse of discretion to admit it. State v. Jarell, 350 S.C. 90, 564 S.E.2d 362 (Ct. App. 2002). The photograph showing a stab wound to the Victim’s chest corroborated witnesses’ testimony about the stabbing and the aftermath.
Accordingly, we must
CURETON, ANDERSON and HUFF, JJ., concur.