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2011-UP-476 - State v. Hammond

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.

Mokeia Hammond, Appellant.


Appeal From Horry County
Benjamin H. Culbertson, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-476  
Submitted October 1, 2011 – Filed October 26, 2011


AFFIRMED


Senior Appellate Defender Joseph L. Savitz, III, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy John McIntosh, and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, all of Columbia; and Solicitor J. Gregory Hembree, of Conway, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Mokeia Hammond appeals her conviction for armed robbery, arguing the circuit court erred in denying her motion for a directed verdict because the State failed to present any direct or substantial circumstantial evidence that Hammond was more than merely present when the robbery occurred.  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 any 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.  A circuit court should grant a directed verdict motion when the evidence merely raises a suspicion the accused is guilty.  State v. Lollis, 343 S.C. 580, 584, 541 S.E.2d 254, 256 (2001).  "Under the 'hand of one is the hand of all' theory [of accomplice liability], one who joins with another to accomplish an illegal purpose is liable criminally for everything done by his confederate incidental to the execution of the common design and purpose." State v. Condrey, 349 S.C. 184, 194, 562 S.E.2d 320, 324 (Ct. App. 2002).  Mere presence and prior knowledge a crime was going to be committed, without more, is insufficient to constitute guilt.  Id. at 195, 562 S.E.2d at 325.  However, "presence at the scene of a crime by pre-arrangement to aid, encourage, or abet in the perpetration of the crime constitutes guilt as a [principal]."  State v. Hill, 268 S.C. 390, 395-96, 234 S.E.2d 219, 221 (1977). 

In viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, substantial circumstantial evidence existed showing Hammond's guilt.  See Weston, 367 S.C. at 292-93, 625 S.E.2d at 648.  Another passenger in the car testified he heard the announcement they were going to "do a lick" and understood this to mean they were going to commit a robbery.  After this announcement, Hammond continued to drive to the parking lot to meet the victim and then drove the car away from the scene after the robbery and shooting occurred.  While mere presence and prior knowledge a crime was going to be committed are not enough to find a defendant guilty, here, Hammond continued to act as driver after her co-defendant stated his criminal intentions and after the crime was committed.  Because Hammond knew of the plan in advance, was present, and aided in the commission of the crime by driving, substantial circumstantial evidence existed that reasonably tended to prove Hammond's guilt.  Accordingly, the circuit court did not err in denying Hammond's motion for a directed verdict.

AFFIRMED.

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


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