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2007-UP-397 - State v. Mobley

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.

Christopher Marquis Mobley, Appellant.


Appeal From Union County
 Lee S. Alford, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2007-UP-397
Submitted September 1, 2007 – Filed September 25, 2007


AFFIRMED


Appellate Defender Eleanor Cleary, of Columbia; for Appellant

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant Attorney General Julie M. Thames, of Columbia; Kevin S. Brackett, of York; for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Christopher Marquis Mobley appeals his conviction for attempting to purchase crack cocaine.  He argues the circuit court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict.  We affirm.[1]

FACTS

On October 2, 2003, the Union City Police working in association with the Union County Sheriff’s Office (collectively, the Police) arrested Carlos Bailey.  Bailey was believed to be the head of a crack cocaine drug ring operating in Union County.  Bailey was brought to the Police station, and a cell phone in his possession was confiscated.   

Bailey’s cell phone rang and was answered by one of the officers.  The officer said “hello” and the caller responded by calling him “Lo” which was a known nickname for Carlos Bailey.  The caller then stated that he needed a “hookup” and told the officer “I need a yard of hard.”  After the caller stated that he was on Hancock Street, the officer instructed the caller to walk up and meet him at the “red light there at Monarch Highway and Highway 49 right in front of the church there.”  The caller agreed, and the officer, accompanied by a second officer, drove to the site in an unmarked police car.   

As they neared their destination, the two officers observed a man walking up Hancock Street towards the agreed upon meeting place.  Bailey’s cell phone rang again, and the same caller informed the officer that he was “on the way.”  Once the Police observed a man[2] closing in on the meeting place, one officer dialed the number from the previously received call and observed the man answer his cell phone.  The officer then asked the man if he was “at the red light,” the officer observed the man talking into his cell phone and heard him respond through the phone that he was at the light.  The Police then pulled their vehicle up to the man, identified as Christopher Mobley, and placed him under arrest for attempting to purchase crack cocaine.  The Police searched Mobley incident to arrest and found one-hundred dollars in his left front pocket.  During the trial, three different officers testified that in their experience, a “yard of hard” was a slang term used to delineate one-hundred dollars worth of crack cocaine.  

At the close of the State’s case, Mobley motioned the court for a directed verdict, and the court denied this motion.  The jury convicted Mobley of attempting to purchase crack cocaine.  Mobley then moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and the trial court denied this motion and sentenced him to five years imprisonment.  This appeal followed.   

STANDARD OF REVIEW

“When ruling on a motion for a directed verdict, the trial court is concerned with the existence or nonexistence of evidence, not its weight.”  State v. Cherry, 361 S.C. 588, 593, 606 S.E.2d 475, 477-78 (2004).  When reviewing a denial of a directed verdict, this Court must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the state.  State v. Burdette, 335 S.C. 34, 46, 515 S.E.2d 525, 531 (1999). Where there is any direct evidence or any substantial circumstantial evidence reasonably tending to prove the guilt of the accused, an appellate court must find the case was properly submitted to the jury.  Cherry, 361 S.C. at 593-94, 606 S.E.2d at 478. See State v. Gaster, 349 S.C. 545, 564 S.E.2d 87 (2002) (on appeal from trial court’s denial of a motion for a directed verdict, appellate court may only reverse the trial court if there is no evidence to support the trial court’s ruling).

LAW/ANALYSIS

I.  Directed Verdict

Mobley contends the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict.  Mobley maintains that there was no direct or circumstantial evidence to support a finding that he was guilty.  We disagree.

Section 44-53-375 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2006) states “[a] person possessing or attempting to possess less than one gram of methamphetamine or cocaine base, as defined in Section 44-53-110,[3] is guilty . . . .”  In this case, the State presented evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to find Mobley attempted to possess crack cocaine.  In taking the facts in the light most favorable to the State, we note the following.  The Police officers testified that in their experience a “yard of hard” meant one hundred dollars worth of crack cocaine.  They further testified that when they arrested a man believed to be the head of a drug ring, Mobley called this man’s cell phone, said he needed a hook-up, and asked for a “yard of hard.”  In furtherance of this request, Mobley agreed to meet at a specified place to attain the “yard of hard.”  The Police observed Mobley speaking to them on his cell phone after they had called the number from the dealer’s phone, and Mobley told them he was at the agreed upon meeting place.  When Mobley was arrested, the police found exactly one-hundred dollars in Mobley’s possession.  We find that contrary to Mobley’s argument, he did make sufficient overt acts towards purchasing the drugs by walking to the designated meeting place to make the purchase.  We find there was sufficient evidence to support the denial of a directed verdict motion.  Therefore, we find no error by the trial court.

CONCLUSION

We find no error in the trial court’s denial of the directed verdict motion.  Based on the foregoing, Mobley’s conviction is

AFFIRMED.

STILWELL, SHORT, and WILLIAMS JJ., concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.

[2] One of the officers recognized the man as Christopher Mobley from previous interactions with him.

[3] “‘Crack cocaine’ means an alkaloidal cocaine or freebase form of cocaine, which is the end product of a chemical alteration whereby the cocaine in salt form is converted to a form suitable for smoking.”  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-110 (Supp. 2006).  Since no drugs were actually exchanged in this case, this definition is immaterial.