Heard June 3, 2015.
Appeal from Oconee County. Alexander S. Macaulay, Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2014-001236.
Chief Appellate Defender Robert Michael Dudek, of Columbia, for Petitioner.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, both of Columbia, for Respondent.
JUSTICE PLEICONES. TOAL, C.J., BEATTY, HEARN, JJ., and Acting Justice Alison Renee Lee concur.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
We granted certiorari to review the Court of Appeals' decision affirming the trial court's denial of petitioner's motion for a directed verdict on the charge of criminal solicitation of a minor. State v. Harris, Op. No. 2014-UP-160 (S.C. Ct.App. filed April 2, 2014). The issue in this case is whether the State presented sufficient evidence to withstand petitioner's directed verdict motion. We affirm.
At trial, the State presented evidence that over the course of two days, petitioner engaged in an online chatroom session with " Amy," whom he believed to be a thirteen year-old girl. However, Amy was an online persona created by Officer Casey Bowling of the Oconee County Sheriff's Office, a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
The transcripts of the chatroom sessions reveal petitioner asked Amy if she wanted to have sex and that petitioner arranged for a time and place for them to meet. Officer Bowling testified that to his knowledge, petitioner never traveled to meet Amy. He also testified that while petitioner was in custody he gave a statement to the police wherein he admitted he made a mistake in asking Amy to have sex with him, but also that he was sorry and his intentions were " just to teach her a lesson." Officer Bowling further testified petitioner told police he thought he was
communicating with a thirteen year-old girl. Officer Bowling was the State's only witness at trial.
Petitioner's motion for a directed verdict was denied by the trial court. Petitioner was convicted of ...