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2011-UP-116 - State v. Vick

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.

Jonathan Vick, Appellant.


Appeal From Spartanburg County
 J. Derham Cole, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-116
Submitted March 1, 2011 – Filed March 23, 2011   


AFFIRMED


Deputy Chief Appellate Defender Wanda H. Carter, 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 Harold M. Coombs, Jr., all of Columbia; and Solicitor Barry Barnette, of Spartanburg, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: Jonathan Vick appeals his conviction for threatening a public official, arguing the trial court erred in denying his directed verdict motion. We affirm.[1]

FACTS

On April 30, 2006, Vick blocked the hatch on his cell door when Officer Derrick Jefferson Green opened the hatch to give Vick his food at the Spartanburg County Detention Center (the Detention Center).  Then, Corporal Alvin Jennings, Jr. opened the cell door in order to stop Vick from blocking the hatch.  Jennings and Vick became involved in an altercation during which Vick yelled, "I'm going to kill you and your f***ing family."  Vick was charged with assaulting a local correctional employee and threatening the life of a public official.  At trial, Vick moved for a directed verdict on the threatening a public official charge, arguing the State failed to prove Jennings was a public official, which the trial court denied.  The jury found Vick guilty of both charges.  The trial court sentenced Vick to a three-year sentence for assaulting a local correctional employee and a concurrent three-year sentence for threatening the life of a public official.  This appeal followed.

LAW/ANALYSIS

Jonathan Vick argues the trial court erred in denying his directed verdict motion because the State failed to prove Jennings was a public official.  We disagree.

"A defendant is entitled to a directed verdict when the State fails to present evidence of the offense charged."  State v. Heath, 370 S.C. 326, 329, 635 S.E.2d 18, 19 (2006).  "If there is any direct evidence or substantial circumstantial evidence reasonably tending to prove the guilt of the accused, [the appellate court] must find the case was properly submitted to the jury."  State v. Stanley, 365 S.C. 24, 42, 615 S.E.2d 455, 464 (Ct. App. 2005).  "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. Weston, 367 S.C. 279, 292, 625 S.E.2d 641, 648 (2006).  "The State has the burden of proof as to all the essential elements of the crime."  State v. Brannon, 388 S.C. 498, 502, 697 S.E.2d 593, 596 (2010).  "When reviewing a denial of a directed verdict, this Court views the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the state."  Weston, 367 S.C. at 292, 625 S.E.2d at 648. 

A person is guilty of threatening a public official when he "knowingly and willfully . . . deliver[s] or convey[s] to a public official . . . [a] verbal . . . communication which contains a threat to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the public official . . .  or members of his immediate family if the threat is directly related to the public official's . . .  responsibilities."   S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1040(A) (2003).  A public official is "an elected or appointed official of the United States or of this State or of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this State."  S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1040(E)(1) (2003). 

Here, evidence exists showing Jennings was a public official because he was appointed by the department head of the Spartanburg County jails and detention centers.  See Spartanburg, S.C., Code § 46-32 (1994) (authorizing the department head of Spartanburg County jails and detention centers to appoint officers for the operation of the jails and detention centers).  Furthermore, Jennings, as a detention officer, has a similar status to a deputy appointed by the sheriff.  See Spartanburg, S.C., Code § 46-47 (1994) (stating the officers appointed by the department head of the Spartanburg County jails and detention centers will have similar powers and duties as deputies appointed by the sheriff).

Accordingly, we find the trial court did not err in denying Vick's motion for a directed verdict.   For the foregoing reasons, the decision of the trial court is 

AFFIRMED.

HUFF, SHORT, and PIEPER, JJ., concur.


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