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State v. Bennett

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

May 28, 2014

The State, Respondent,
v.
Kevin Tyrone Bennett, Appellant

Heard December 12, 2013

Appeal From Spartanburg County. Appellate Case No. 2012-207559. John C. Hayes, III, Circuit Court Judge.

Appellate Defender David Alexander, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Deputy Attorney General David A. Spencer, both of Columbia, for Respondent.

HUFF, J. GEATHERS and LOCKEMY, JJ., concur.

OPINION

[408 S.C. 303] HUFF, J.

Kevin Tyrone Bennett was convicted of burglary in the second degree, petty larceny, and malicious injury to real property. Bennett

Page 744

appeals, arguing the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict based upon the insufficiency of the evidence. We reverse.

FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Around 3:30 a.m. on November 17, 2010, an alarm activated at the C.C. Woodson Community Center (the Center) in the City of Spartanburg. Upon their arrival, police discovered a broken door adjacent to a smashed window in the area referred to as the " community room." Officer Osrechek dusted the doors, as well as the televisions, for fingerprints in this room. He was able to lift one usable print from a wall-mounted television located in the community room. Officer Osrechek focused on this particular television in the room because it appeared to him that someone had tampered with [408 S.C. 304] it. He testified he found the television in an unnatural position, pointing down at a sharper angle than it should have been in order to project across the large room. Though he did not recall seeing any damage to the television, it appeared to him to have been manipulated, as if someone were trying to remove it from the wall. Officer Osrechek also went to the computer room, where he took photographs. In particular, he photographed holes in a wall and mounting brackets on the floor where a television once sat, and noted it was obvious an item had been removed from the wall. He did not locate any fingerprints or other forensic evidence in the computer room. A fingerprint examination expert later testified that, after comparing the latent print lifted from the community room by Officer Osrechek with Bennett's prints, the latent print belonged to Bennett.

Officer McClure also responded to the scene, where he processed the computer room. He testified it appeared that one of the computers was missing. He observed two misplaced chairs, which had apparently been moved from underneath the computer desk and were found directly below brackets on the wall where a television was missing. The chairs were pushed against a wall " as if somebody would use them as leverage." Also discovered next to one of the chairs was a tire iron. Officer McClure was unable to lift any fingerprints from the computer room, and did not discover any blood or other forensic evidence in there. He collected the tire iron to be processed by their forensic team, but no prints were ultimately recovered from this item either.

Olivia Sartor, the director of the Center, testified she arrived at the Center between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. on November 17, 2010, and was asked by officers to walk through the building to see if anything was missing. She observed glass broken in the community room. Nothing was missing from that room, but Sartor did observe abrasions on the wall, as if something had been used to try to pry the televisions from the wall. In the computer room, she found a television, computer, monitor and keyboard were missing. Sartor explained the community room was not simply open for the public to enter, but that it was scheduled for events. However, the doors were not always locked to that room and Sartor agreed the scheduling of events did not control who was able to access the [408 S.C. 305] community room. Sartor stated she had seen Bennett in the Center several times prior to the break-in, characterizing him as a frequent visitor who mainly participated in their computer lab in the computer room. During the hours of the day she saw Bennett at the Center, there were usually after school programs meeting in the community room, as well as adult groups such as senior citizen craft classes or bridge groups, both of which met earlier in the day. Sartor did not remember Bennett being in the community room and did not recall seeing him in that room as part of these groups. Sartor also stated she would monitor Bennett when he was in the facility. She ...


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