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2011-UP-070 - State v. Boyd

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

Jackie Lee Boyd, Appellant.


Appeal From Pickens County
 Larry R. Patterson, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-070
Submitted February 1, 2011 – Filed February 23, 2011


AFFIRMED


Appellate Defender Elizabeth A. Franklin-Best, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, and Assistant Attorney General Mark R. Farthing, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Walt Wilkins, of Greenville, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Jackie Lee Boyd appeals his conviction for trafficking in cocaine, arguing the circuit court erroneously denied his motion for a directed verdict.  He contends the State only raised a "mere suspicion" that he knowingly possessed the drugs.  We affirm.[1]

An appellate court reviews the denial of a directed verdict by viewing the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the State.  State v. Weston, 367 S.C. 279, 292, 625 S.E.2d 641, 648 (2006).  "If there is any direct evidence or 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."  Id. at 292-93, 625 S.E.2d at 648.  The circuit court may not consider the weight of the evidence.  Id. at 292, 625 S.E.2d at 648.  However, when the evidence "merely raises a suspicion" of guilt, a directed verdict is proper.  State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 584, 541 S.E.2d 254, 256 (2001).  A mere suspicion is a belief that is inspired by "facts or circumstances which do not amount to proof."  Id.

Trafficking in cocaine occurs when a person is "knowingly in actual or constructive possession" of "ten grams or more of cocaine or any mixtures containing cocaine."  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-370(e), (e)(2) (2002).  Constructive possession can be established by circumstantial evidence.  State v. Brown, 267 S.C. 311, 315, 227 S.E.2d 674, 676 (1976).  "'[T]he State must show a defendant had dominion or control, or the right to exercise dominion or control.'"  State v. Muhammed, 338 S.C. 22, 26, 524 S.E.2d 637, 639 (Ct. App. 1999) (quoting State v. Hudson, 277 S.C. 200, 202, 284 S.E.2d 773, 774-75 (1981)).

Here, substantial circumstantial evidence existed showing Boyd knowingly possessed the requisite amount of cocaine.  Specifically, the arresting officer testified he discovered a medicine bottle containing drugs in the grass next to the driver's side door.  Labs tests determined the contents of the medicine bottle to be 10.90 grams of cocaine and 4.37 grams of crack cocaine.  The only other passenger in the vehicle testified the medicine bottle was in the vehicle prior to the stop.  She also said she did not throw it from the vehicle.  This evidence, in addition to Boyd's flight, his admission of recent drug use, and the drug paraphernalia found on the driver's side of the vehicle, permits the jury to reasonably infer guilt.  Accordingly, the decision of the circuit court is

AFFIRMED.

WILLIAMS, GEATHERS, and LOCKEMY, JJ., concur.


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