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2004-UP-394 - State v. Daniels

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.

Tracy Willard Daniels,        Appellant.


Appeal From Florence County
Paul M. Burch, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2004-UP-394
Heard May 13, 2004 – Filed June 22, 2004


AFFIRMED


Assistant Appellate Defender Robert M. Dudek, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Charles H. Richardson, and Senior Assistant Attorney General Harold M. Coombs, Jr., all of Columbia, and Solicitor Edgar Lewis Clements, of Florence, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Tracy Willard Daniels was charged with murder following a shooting death at his home.  His testimony at trial, that the shooting was accidental, differed significantly from his statements given at the scene and at the police station.  The trial court submitted voluntary manslaughter as a lesser-included offense to the jury over Daniels’ objection and the jury convicted him of that charge.  He appeals.  We affirm.

1.       We find no error in the trial court’s decision to submit voluntary manslaughter as a lesser-included offense of the indicted offense of murder.  The statement Daniels gave at the police station, that the shooting occurred immediately after the victim cut him, trying to cut off his thumb, and threatened to turn his “insides out,” was sufficient to support the voluntary manslaughter charge.  See State v. Locklair, 341 S.C. 352, 359, 535 S.E.2d 420, 424 (2000) (defining voluntary manslaughter as the unlawful killing of another person in sudden heat of passion upon sufficient legal provocation); State v. Lowry, 315 S.C. 396, 399, 434 S.E.2d 272, 274 (1993) (“To warrant a court’s eliminating the offense of manslaughter, it should very clearly appear that there is no evidence whatsoever tending to reduce the crime from murder to manslaughter.”); Locklair, 341 S.C. at 360, 535 S.E.2d at 424 (explaining sudden heat of passion upon sufficient legal provocation is such as would “render the mind of an ordinary person incapable of cool reflection”); State v. Wiggins, 330 S.C. 538, 549, 500 S.E.2d 489, 495 (1998) (noting “fear can constitute a basis for voluntary manslaughter” as the mind can be rendered incapable of cool reflection by a number of strong emotions); State v. Johnson, 333 S.C. 62, 65, 508 S.E.2d 29, 31 (1998) (“Although words alone may not constitute sufficient legal provocation, words accompanied by some overt, threatening act may be sufficient.”). 

2.       The trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding testimony that the victim’s medical condition and the substances in his system might have made him agitated and affected his aggressiveness.  This evidence was speculative, might have confused the jury, and might have unfairly prejudiced the jury against the victim.  See Rule 403, SCRE (providing relevant evidence “may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury . . .”); State v. Brown, 344 S.C. 302, 308, 543 S.E.2d 568, 571 (Ct. App. 2001) (noting rulings on the admissibility of evidence are left to the trial court’s sound discretion and will not be disturbed absent clear abuse of that discretion).

AFFIRMED.

HEARN, C.J., STILWELL, J., and CURETON, A.J., concur.