June 7, 2017
From Lexington County Thomas A. Russo, Circuit Court
Appellate Defender John Harrison Strom, of Columbia, for
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy
Attorney General Megan Harrigan Jameson, Assistant Deputy
Attorney General David A. Spencer, all of Columbia; and
Solicitor Samuel R. Hubbard, III, of Lexington, for
L. Miles appeals his conviction for trafficking in illegal
drugs in violation of section 44-53-370(e)(3) of the South
Carolina Code (Supp. 2016). He argues the trial court erred
by: (1) instructing the jury, in reply to a question they
posed during deliberation, that the State did not have to
prove Miles knew the drugs were oxycodone; (2) denying his
directed verdict motion; and (3) admitting three statements
he contends were obtained in violation of Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1960). We affirm.
scanning parcels for illegal drugs at the Federal Express
office in West Columbia, agents from the Lexington County
Sheriff's Office became suspicious of a package. They
arranged for a controlled delivery to the listed address,
which was within an apartment complex. Surveilling the
delivery, they observed the delivery person ring the doorbell
and leave the package by the front door. A few moments later,
an agent noticed Miles exit a nearby apartment and begin
walking around the parking lot. The agent then saw a young
female emerge from the delivery address. She looked at the
box, got on her phone, quickly hung up and went back inside.
Miles then got on his phone while walking towards the box.
Miles picked up the box and started back to his apartment.
Seeing the agents advancing to intercept him, he tried to
ditch the box. The agents apprehended and handcuffed him.
Edmonson immediately questioned Miles about the contents of
the box. Miles claimed he did not know what was inside.
Edmonson then asked if there were drugs inside the box; Miles
responded there probably were, but he did not know what kind.
At this point, Edmonson read Miles his Miranda
rights and asked Miles again whether there were drugs in the
box. Miles again responded the box could contain drugs, but
he did not know what kind. Upon obtaining a search warrant
and Miles' consent, the agents opened the box and
discovered three hundred pills that a chemist later testified
contained a total of nine grams of oxycodone. Edmonson next
asked Miles to write down everything he knew about the box
and the drugs. Edmonson then reread Miles his
Miranda rights, and Miles wrote a statement
admitting he had been paid one hundred dollars to pick up the
box, someone named "Mark" had called him to pick it
up, and the "owner" was a "Stacks" from
then wrote out two questions. First, "Did you know drugs
are in the parcel 'box'?" Miles wrote,
"Yes." The second question and answer-related to
Miles' admission that he had previously picked up
packages for money-were redacted and not presented to the
was indicted for trafficking in illegal drugs, in violation
of section 44-53-370(e)(3). He did not testify at his trial
and moved unsuccessfully for directed verdict, arguing in
part there was insufficient evidence he knew the box
contained oxycodone. During the jury charge, the trial court
gave the following instruction:
Mr. Miles is charged with trafficking in illegal drugs and in
this case we are referring to [o]xycodone. The State must
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant knowingly
delivered, purchased, brought into this state, provided
financial assistance or otherwise aided, abetted, attempted
or conspired to sell, deliver, purchase, or bring into this
state and was knowingly in actual or constructive possession
or knowingly attempted to become in actual or constructive
pos[session] of the [o]xycodone. Possession may be either . .
. actual or constructive.
trial court charged that the State bore the burden of proving
the amount of oxycodone was more than four grams. The trial
court further instructed that the State had to prove criminal
intent, which required a "conscious wrongdoing, "
and that intent may be inferred from the conduct of the
parties and other circumstances. After deliberating for some
time, the jury asked the following question: "Does the
[S]tate have to prove that the defendant knowingly brought
into the state four grams or more of [o]xycodone or just any
amount of illegal drugs in order to consider this
trial court, over Miles' objection, replied to the jury
[T]he law in South Carolina is the State does not have to
prove that the Defendant knew that the drugs in the package
were [o]xycodone, just that he knew that the package
contained illegal drugs. However, the State does have to
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the illegal drugs that
were in the package w[ere] more than four grams of
jury later returned with a verdict of guilty. Because Miles
had at least two prior drug convictions, he was sentenced to
the mandatory minimum term of ...