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2011-UP-298 - State v. Cheeks

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.

Thomas Cheeks, Appellant.


Appeal From Laurens County
J. Mark Hayes, II, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-298 
Submitted June 1, 2011 – Filed June 14, 2011


AFFIRMED


Appellate Defender LaNelle Cantey DuRant, 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 Deborah R.J. Shupe, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Jerry W. Peace, of Greenwood, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Thomas B. Cheeks, Jr. appeals his conviction for statutory escape.  On appeal, Cheeks contends the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict.  Specifically, Cheeks argues the State failed to prove the elements of statutory escape because he was in the process of being arrested and not in confinement.  We affirm.[1]

"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).  When reviewing a denial of a directed verdict, an appellate court views the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the State.  Id.  If any direct evidence or substantial circumstantial evidence reasonably tends to prove the guilt of the accused, the appellate court must find the case was properly submitted to the jury.  Id. at 292-93, 625 S.E.2d at 648.

Under section 24-13-410 of the South Carolina Code (2007), "[i]t is unlawful for a person, lawfully confined in prison or upon the public works of a county or while in the custody of a superintendent, guard, or officer, to escape . . . ."  (emphasis added).  A definition of "custody" is "detention of a person by virtue of lawful process or authority."  Black's Law Dictionary 442 (9th ed. 2009).

In Bing v. Harvey, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that an "appellant's escape from lawful pretrial custody violated the statutory offense of escape."  274 S.C. 216, 217-18, 262 S.E.2d 42, 43 (1980) (noting initially that "[a]ppellant escaped from the lawful pretrial custody" of the Sherriff and then stating that there was "no question" that "appellant was 'being lawfully confined' at the time of his escape," the court allowed an inference that a person in lawful pretrial custody is lawfully confined). 

The State presented sufficient evidence to meet the elements of the escape statute.  Cheeks stipulated he was lawfully arrested.  The State produced evidence that an officer arrested Cheeks for a traffic violation, handcuffed him, and transferred him to another officer's custody.  The second officer transported Cheeks to the police department for booking and placement in jail.  At the police department, the officer removed Cheeks's handcuffs to complete the booking process.  Cheeks ran out the door of the building and was apprehended by the officer, after a foot chase, in the field across the building.  Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence supported submitting the case to the jury.

AFFIRMED.

SHORT, KONDUROS, and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.


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