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2004-UP-218 - State v. Berggrum

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals


The State,        Respondent,

v.

Raymond Robert Berggrum,        Appellant.


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


Unpublished Opinion No. 2004-UP-218
Submitted February 9, 2004 – Filed March 30, 2004


AFFIRMED


Senior Assistant Appellate Defender Wanda P. Hagler, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Charles H. Richardson, Assistant Attorney General David A. Spencer, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Robert M. Ariail, of Greenville, for Respondent.

BEATTY, J.:  Raymond Robert Berggrum was convicted of second-degree burglary and sentenced to ten years imprisonment.  Berggrum appeals, arguing the trial judge erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict.  We affirm.

FACTS

Officer Steve Stewart responded to a call that a liquor store had been burglarized in the middle of the night.  When Stewart arrived, he discovered glass on the inside of the door, blood on the door, and two broken bottles of Wild Turkey.  A second officer, Greg Turner, arrived at the scene and noted a Wild Turkey cup – similar to the ones in the liquor store’s display – was on the ground outside the store and had blood on it.   

After canvassing the area around the store, Stewart and Turner went to the Days Inn hotel across the street from the store.  They questioned the hotel’s night clerk to see if he had noticed anything suspicious.  After speaking with the clerk, the officers went to Room 109, where they noticed blood on the outside of the door.  Berggrum answered the door and allowed the officers to enter.  After the officers noticed a bottle of Wild Turkey on the floor, they obtained consent to search the rest of the room.  The officers subsequently found a second bottle of Wild Turkey and another Wild Turkey cup. [1]   They also noticed that Berggrum had two fresh scratches on his arm and there was blood on the bedding. 

Berggrum gave a statement to Stewart and Turner after he was advised of his Miranda [2] rights.  The statement contained three different versions of events.  Initially, Berggrum stated two men came to his hotel room and gave him two bottles of Wild Turkey, after which they pointed a gun to his head and told him he owed them $2000.  Then Berggrum stated the liquor store owner gave him the liquor with the understanding that he would pay later.  Finally, Berggrum said he bought the liquor.

At the close of the State’s case, defense counsel moved for a directed verdict, arguing there was no substantial circumstantial evidence from which “a jury may fairly and logically find or render a verdict.”  The trial judge denied the motion, and Berggrum was subsequently found guilty of second-degree burglary.  However, after rendering the verdict, the jury foreman stated, “[w]e were very dissatisfied with the evidence even though we did return with a guilty verdict.  We would let it be known.”  Based in large part upon the foreman’s comment, Berggrum moved for a new trial, which was denied. 

LAW/ANALYSIS

Berggrum argues the trial judge erred in denying his motions for directed verdict and a new trial because there was insufficient evidence of guilt.  We do not agree.

On a motion for a directed verdict in a criminal case, the trial court is concerned with the existence or non-existence of evidence, not its weight.  State v. Morgan, 282 S.C. 409, 411, 319 S.E.2d 335, 336 (1984).  In reviewing a refusal to grant a directed verdict, the appellate court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and determine whether there is any direct or substantial circumstantial evidence that reasonably tends to prove the defendant's guilt or from which his guilt may be logically deduced.  State v. Pinckney, 339 S.C. 346, 349, 529 S.E.2d 526, 527 (2000).   If the State presents any evidence which reasonably tends to prove the defendant’s guilt, or from which the defendant’s guilt could be fairly and logically deduced, the case must go to the jury.  State v. Poindexter, 314 S.C. 490, 493, 431 S.E.2d 254, 255-56 (1993).

At trial, the State presented substantial circumstantial evidence to support the guilty verdict.  Berggrum’s hotel room was located across the street from the burglarized liquor store.  Four bottles of Wild Turkey were stolen from the liquor store and police found a total of four bottles of Wild Turkey between the liquor store and Berggrum’s hotel room.  Police also found a Wild Turkey promotional cup – similar to those in the Wild Turkey display at the liquor store – in Berggrum’s hotel room.  Further, there was blood at the liquor store, blood on Berggrum’s hotel room door, blood on his hotel bedding, and two fresh scratches on his arm.  In addition to this circumstantial evidence, Officer Turner testified as to the statement Berggrum made after his arrest.  After Berggrum was read his Miranda rights, he gave three conflicting statements to police about how he came to have two bottles of Wild Turkey and a Wild Turkey cup in his hotel room.  Viewing the State’s evidence as a whole, we find the State presented substantial circumstantial evidence of Berggrum’s guilt. 

CONCLUSION

We find the trial judge did not err in denying Berggrum’s motion for a directed verdict and submitting the case to the jury.  See, e.g., State v. McGowan, 347 S.C. 618, 622, 557 S.E.2d 657, 659 (2001) (holding that if there is any direct evidence or any substantial circumstantial evidence reasonably tending to prove the guilt of the accused, this court must find the case was properly submitted to the jury).  Accordingly, Berggrum’s conviction and sentence are

AFFIRMED.

HEARN, C.J.,  and ANDERSON, J., concur.


[1] The liquor storeowner subsequently verified that four bottles of Wild Turkey were missing from the store.

[2] Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966).