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
In The Court of Appeals
The State, Respondent,
Brian William Scott, Appellant.
Edward W. Miller, Circuit Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 2006-UP-285
Heard May 31, 2006 – Filed June 19, 2006
Symmes Watkins Culbertson, of
Greenville, for Appellant.
Attorney General Henry Dargn McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Senior Assistant Attorney General Harold M. Coombs, Jr., Office of the Attorney General, of Columbia, Robert M. Ariail, 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, of Greenville, for Respondent.
PER CURIAM: Brian William Scott appeals the circuit court’s denial of his motion for a new trial, arguing the State violated his due process rights by failing to comply with Rule 5, SCRCrimP, and the mandates of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). We affirm.
In February 1997, a jury found Brian Williams Scott guilty of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. At his trial, the State relied heavily on the testimony of James Johnson and Tyrone Adams, both present at the alleged murder of Tyrone Longino.
According to James Johnson’s trial testimony, he met Scott while working at a local restaurant a couple of weeks prior to the incident in question. Johnson testified he left work around 10:30 p.m. on the night of February 14, 1992. While walking to a friend’s house, Johnson ran into Scott, Adams, Longino, and another coworker. He was introduced to Adams and Longino for the first time. The group then went to an apartment shared by Scott and Logino and proceeded to consume alcohol and smoke marijuana. At some point, Johnson’s other coworker left. The remaining four then spent some time driving around in Longino’s car and making phone calls in an attempt to purchase drugs.
Following several failed attempts to secure a drug purchase, the group pulled into a gas station.
According to Johnson, Scott then directed
On February 15,
The police then attempted to locate Longino at his apartment to verify
At approximately 11:30 p.m. that night, the Greenville City Police received a call from county authorities reporting that a body was found in a dumpster at a local park. The body was identified as Longino. Injuries to the body confirmed he was strangled and stabbed once in the chest.
Officers then interrogated
Scott, Adams, and Johnson were indicted for Longino’s murder. In 1992, the charges against Scott were dismissed, presumably due to an issue concerning the location of witnesses. In 1996, however, Scott was re-indicted for murder and tried before a jury. Scott’s trial took place prior to any prosecution of Adams or Johnson regarding Longino’s death.
As previously stated, the State relied heavily on Adams’ and Johnson’s testimony concerning the events in question.
In 2000, Scott retained counsel and initiated a post conviction relief action (PCR). Scott’s PCR counsel filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office seeking all information in any way related to the death of Longino. After an extended, often heated, exchange of phone calls and letters between Scott’s counsel and the solicitor’s office, the requested documents were eventually turned over.
Included in these documents was a certified written statement signed by
3. Defendant [Adams] was, consistent with prior statement(s), talking on the telephone in the area of the crime having no knowledge of the act until he entered the vehicle in which he was a passenger, finding the body of the victim.
4. Relative to the actual perpetrator of the crime, Defendant could only speculate as to whom the actual perpetrator was as he (Defendant) did not witness the act.
. . . .
6. Defendant freely admits that he drove the car belonging to the victim, that he was merely present during the commission of the crime, with that presence being out of sight of the crime and without the knowledge of the act being in progress.
The signed “verification/certification of service” block to this document reads “I have placed the original and one copy of this document in the U.S. Mail at the Lee Correctional Institution at Bishopville, SC, addressed to the; CLERK OF COURT, GREENVILLE COUNTY COURT HOUSE, GREENVILLE, SC: OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR, GREENVILLE COUNTY, GREENVILLE, SC.” (emphasis in original)
This document was not provided to Scott pursuant to his Rule 5, SCRCrimP, and Brady motions prior to his murder trial. According to Scott’s former PCR counsel, the document was present in the Greenville County Clerk of Court’s Office in Adams’ file numbered 98-GS-23-2330, which is the enumeration for
Scott filed a Rule 29(b), SCRCrimP, motion for a new trial in the circuit court, arguing that the State’s withholding of this document violated his due process rights by failing to comply with Rule 5, SCRCrimP, and the mandates of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The circuit court denied the motion, concluding the document, filed with clerk of court, was a matter of public record; thus, available to a diligent defendant and not within the scope of a Brady motion.
Scott argues the circuit court erred in denying his motion for a new trial because the State’s failure to provide Adams’ sworn statement to the defense violated his due process rights by failing to comply with Rule 5, SCRCrimP, and the mandates of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). We disagree.
It is a violation of a defendant’s due process rights for the prosecution to withhold evidence favorable to the defendant. Brady, 373
In the present case,
Furthermore, a Brady claim is valid only if the accused can demonstrate the evidence was material to guilt or punishment. Gibson, 334 S.C. at 525, 514 S.E.2d at 324. When a defendant files a general Brady request, as Scott did in the present case, “favorable evidence is material, and constitutional error results from its suppression by the government, [only] if there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”
Here, the evidence in question merely attacks the credibility of a witness whose varying versions of the events surrounding the victim’s murder were made apparent to the jury at trial. Moreover, Adams’ statement contradicting his trial testimony does nothing to refute the testimony of the State’s star witness, Johnson, who was seated next to Scott during both the strangling and stabbing of Longino. We conclude, after thorough review of the record on appeal, that had
In reaching this conclusion, we are aware of the recent South Carolina Supreme Court’s opinion in Riddle v. Ozmint, __ S.C. __, __ S.E.2d __, 2006 WL 1389541 (2006), reemphasizing the consequential nature of the State’s Brady obligation and the grave impact on justice when the prosecution fails to comply. However, given the facts of the present case, namely Johnson’s consistent testimony and the thorough impeachment of
The circuit court’s denial of Scott’s motion for a new trial is therefore
KITTREDGE, SHORT, and WILLIAMS, JJ., concur.
 Scott also argues that these documents prove Adams was offered leniency in exchange for his testimony in Scott’s trial, an assertion which further belies