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2011-UP-127 - State v. Butler

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.

Beulah R. Butler, Appellant.


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


Unpublished Opinion No.  2011-UP-127
Submitted March 1, 2011 – Filed March 28, 2011


AFFIRMED


Chief Appellate Defender Robert M. Dudek, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, and Senior Assistant Attorney General Norman Mark Rapoport, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Donald V. Myers, of Lexington, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: Beulah R. Butler appeals her convictions of voluntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm or a knife during the commission of a violent crime.  On appeal, Butler contends the trial court erred in denying her motion for a directed verdict, arguing the trial court erred in the following: (1) "[failing to] apply the standard that the [S]tate had to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt at the directed verdict stage" and (2) "only [applying] the traditional 'any evidence' standard of voluntary manslaughter without regard to self-defense."  We disagree.

"There are four elements required by law to establish self-defense."  State v. Davis, 282 S.C. 45, 46, 317 S.E.2d 452, 453 (1984).  The elements include:

First, the defendant must be without fault in bringing on the difficulty. Second, the defendant must have actually believed he was in imminent danger of losing his life or sustaining serious bodily injury, or he actually was in such imminent danger.  Third, if his defense is based upon his belief of imminent danger, a reasonably prudent man of ordinary firmness and courage would have entertained the same belief. If the defendant actually was in imminent danger, the circumstances were such as would warrant a man of ordinary prudence, firmness and courage to strike the fatal blow in order to save himself from serious bodily harm or losing his own life. Fourth, the defendant had no other probable means of avoiding the danger of losing his own life or sustaining serious bodily injury than to act as he did in this particular instance. If, however, the defendant was on his own premises he had no duty to retreat before acting in self-defense.

Id.

The State produced sufficient evidence showing Butler did not act in self-defense.  Specifically, the State produced evidence negating the second element of self-defense that "the defendant must have actually believed he was in imminent danger of losing his life or sustaining serious bodily injury, or he actually was in such imminent danger."  Id.  The evidence presented included Butler's own statements that she was not acting to defend herself from "imminent danger," but rather that the incident was merely an accident.  Butler made statements that the Victim "rolled over on the knife," "fell on the knife," and "jumped over the couch and landed on the knife."  Additionally, Butler admitted on cross-examination she did not act in self-defense, but rather the stabbing was an accident.  Thus, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence supported submitting the case to the jury.

AFFIRMED.[1]

FEW, C.J., THOMAS and KONDUROS, JJ., concur. 


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