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2008-UP-428 - State v. Scroggins

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.

Larontae Scroggins, Appellant.


Appeal From Lexington County
 R. Knox McMahon, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-428
Submitted June 2, 2008 – Filed July 23, 2008


AFFIRMED


Deputy Chief Attorney for Capital Appeals Robert M. Dudek, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Special Assistant Attorney General, Amie L. Clifford, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Donald V. Myers, of Lexington, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Larontae Scroggins appeals his convictions for armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.  On appeal, Scroggins argues the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce evidence from an out-of-court statement made by a non-testifying witness on redirect examination where the statement was prejudicial hearsay.  We affirm.[1] 

At trial, the State called Yuri McLamore, Detective Eric Russell, and Officer Donall Stoudemire to testify.  Renee Mullinax, the individual allegedly kidnapped by Scroggins, was not called as a witness at trial.  During cross-examination of Detective Russell, Scroggins’ counsel questioned Detective Russell about statements Mullinax made to police regarding events following the robbery, which were recorded in Detective Russell’s report of the case.  Specifically, Scroggins’ counsel asked Detective Russell about Mullinax’s statements whereby she admitted to having consensual sex with Scroggins following the alleged robbery.  Following this line of questioning, the State raised the issue of whether Scroggins’ counsel had, by questioning Detective Russell about Mullinax’s statement, opened the door to inquiry of other statements made by Mullinax to Detective Russell about the events of the robbery.  The trial court ruled that Scroggins’ counsel had opened the door.

Accordingly, during the redirect examination of Detective Russell, the State inquired about statements Mullinax made about the robbery.  When asked specifically what Mullinax had to say about the robbery, Scroggins’ counsel objected arguing the line of questioning was based on hearsay.  The trial court overruled the objection and Detective Russell proceeded with his testimony.

Scroggins asserts the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce hearsay testimony of Mullinax’s statement to Detective Russell regarding the robbery.  Scroggins further asserts the statements were prejudicial because they confirmed McLamore’s testimony regarding the events surrounding the robbery, and, in particular, the presence of the gun.  We find the circuit court did not commit reversible error.  See State v. McFarlane, 279 S.C. 327, 330, 306 S.E.2d 611, 613 (1983) (“It is well settled that the admission of improper evidence is harmless where it is merely cumulative to other evidence.”); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 507, 435 S.E.2d 859, 862 (1993) (any error in admission of evidence cumulative to other unobjected-to evidence is harmless). 

Even if the door had not been opened and the trial court erred in allowing the admission of the testimony at issue, we find the error to be harmless.  Since McLamore testified earlier in the trial that Scroggins had robbed him at gunpoint and took Mullinax at gunpoint against her will, the disputed testimony by Detective Russell is merely cumulative.  Moreover, Detective Russell testified, without objection, that Mullinax’s account of the events confirmed what McLamore had stated.  This testimony by Detective Russell was placed into evidence before the disputed testimony at issue herein.  Since McLamore testified first, followed by Detective Russell’s testimony without objection that Mullinax confirmed what McLamore stated, the subsequent admission by the court of other statements by Mullinax through Detective Russell was therefore harmless even if the admission was in error. 

AFFIRMED.

WILLIAMS, THOMAS, and PIEPER, JJ., concur.


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