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State v. Larmand

Supreme Court of South Carolina

December 23, 2015

The State, Petitioner,
v.
Francis Larmand, Respondent

Heard February 3, 2015.

Appeal From York County. William H. Seals, Jr., Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-001143.

Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W Elliott and Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, all of Columbia, for Petitioner.

C. Rauch Wise, of Greenwood, for Respondent.

CHIEF JUSTICE TOAL. PLEICONES, BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 893

TOAL, CHIEF JUSTICE.

[415 S.C. 26] The State appeals the court of appeals' decision in State v. Larmand, 402 S.C. 184, 739 S.E.2d 898 (Ct.App. 2013), reversing the trial court's denial of Frank Larmand's (Respondent) motion for a directed verdict on charges for lynching, conspiracy, and pointing and presenting a firearm. We reverse.

Facts/Procedural Background[1]

Respondent and his wife (collectively, the Larmands) are residents of Kannapolis, North Carolina. Together, they own [415 S.C. 27] a branch of Pop-A-Lock, a national locksmith franchise company providing customers with roadside assistance and locksmith services, and operate their branch in and around the Charlotte metropolitan area. Ryan Lochbaum worked at the Larmands' branch of Pop-A-Lock for several years until his termination in October 2008 for misconduct and providing unauthorized services to customers.

Approximately seven months after Lochbaum's termination, the Larmands became suspicious that he and one of their current employees, Mike Taylor, were conspiring to defraud Pop-A-Lock. Specifically, the Larmands believed that Taylor would occasionally relay a customer's location to Lochbaum, who would then place a removable magnetic sign on his vehicle and masquerade as the Pop-ALock locksmith. According to the Larmands, after the customer paid Lochbaum for " Pop-A-Lock's" services, Taylor and Lochbaum would split the money between themselves, and Taylor would inform the Larmands that the customer had left the designated location before he arrived.

To confirm their suspicions, the Larmands set up a " mystery shopper call" for Taylor. During the call, Respondent's brother-in-law, Leo Lemire, posed as a customer needing locksmith services at the Charlotte Knights' former stadium (Knights' Stadium) located in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Respondent and

Page 894

Lemire waited at the stadium in the hope of catching Taylor and Lochbaum. Ultimately, neither Taylor nor Lochbaum responded to the telephone call. Therefore, around midnight, Respondent and Lemire drove to Lochbaum's house in Rock Hill, South Carolina, to investigate further, and potentially confront Lochbaum.[2] The two men parked at least one-quarter mile away from Lochbaum's house, despite the ample street parking ...


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