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2011-UP-343 - State v. Dantzler
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.

Eric Dantzler, Appellant.


Appeal From Horry County
Steven H. John, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-343
Submitted June 1, 2011 – Filed June 29, 2011   


AFFIRMED


Appellate Defender Kathrine H. Hudgins, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan M. Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Christina J. Catoe, all of Columbia; and Solicitor J. Gregory Hembree, of Conway, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: Eric Dantzler appeals his conviction for trafficking in cocaine in excess of ten grams but less than twenty-eight grams.  On appeal, Dantzler contends the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict because the State failed to prove Dantzler exercised dominion and control over the area where the drugs were found.  We disagree.

"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).  "A defendant is entitled to a directed verdict when the State fails to produce evidence of the offense charged."  Id.  "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 [S]tate."  Id.  "If there is any direct evidence or any 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."  Id. at 292-93, 625 S.E.2d at 648.  "Before a person may be convicted of the offense of trafficking, the State must prove the person knowingly possessed ten or more grams of cocaine.  A person's mere presence, where the drugs are present, would not be sufficient to convict, without more."  State v. Scott, 303 S.C. 360, 363, 400 S.E. 2d 784, 786 (Ct. App. 1991) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). 

The State produced evidence of Dantzler's dominion and control over the vehicle and glove box where the drugs were found: Dantzler was seated in the front passenger seat at the time of the traffic stop, approximately one foot from the glove box containing the cocaine. He was unusually nervous and agitated while the police considered towing and taking inventory of the vehicle, he made repeated attempts to control the disposition of the vehicle, and he fled immediately upon seeing the glove box opened.  Thus, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence supported submitting the case to the jury.

AFFIRMED.[1]

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


[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 214, SCACR.