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State v. Young

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

November 15, 2017

The State, Respondent,
v.
Raymond Lewis Young, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2013-000149

          Submitted September 7, 2017

         Appeal From Greenville County Edward W. Miller, Circuit Court Judge

          J. Falkner Wilkes, of Greenville, for Appellant.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney General J. Benjamin Aplin, both of Columbia, and Solicitor W. Walter Wilkins, III, of Greenville, for Respondent.

          PER CURIAM.

         Raymond Lewis Young appeals his convictions and sentences of seven counts of attempted murder, one count of second degree assault and battery by mob, and one count of conspiracy.[1] Young argues, among other issues, the trial court erred in denying his Batson[2] motion. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

         FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The codefendants were tried together for their involvement in a shootout at a Li'l Cricket gas station in Greenville. Prior to jury selection, the trial court agreed to permit counsel for Booker to "speak[] for the group." The State struck three black jurors: 281, 81, and alternate juror 215. Young challenged the strikes, noting of the State's six strikes, three were used on black jurors. The trial court noted three black jurors were seated. The State explained it excused Juror 281 because during voir dire, she "expressed some concerns regarding her ability to withstand the duration of the trial. She indicated she had a substantial number of health issues and wanted to be excused based on those issues." Regarding Juror 81, the State noted she lived on Prancer Avenue in Greenville County near some of the witnesses. Finally, the State explained it struck Juror 215 because he lived in the Piedmont area, possibly near many of the witnesses.

         Young argued the State's explanations were not "satisfactory rac[e] neutral reasons, " and the State did not strike Juror 106, a white, female juror who lived on Piedmont Avenue in Piedmont. The State argued it did not have any concern about that particular Piedmont address and it did not "know the geography of Greenville County with enough sophistication to appreciate the minor details of the community . . . ." The trial court noted Young made a valid point but denied the motion, relying on State v. Tucker, 334 S.C. 1, 512 S.E.2d 99 (1998), and Payton v. Kearse, 329 S.C. 51, 495 S.E.2d 205 (1998), and finding no discriminatory intent inherent in the State's explanation. After the presentation of the case, the jury convicted Young and the court denied all post trial motions. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In criminal cases, this court sits to review errors of law only and is bound by the trial court's factual findings unless those findings are clearly erroneous. State v. Edwards, 384 S.C. 504, 508, 682 S.E.2d 820, 822 (2009). Thus, on review, the court is limited to determining whether the trial court abused its discretion. Id. A trial court's decision constitutes an abuse of discretion when it is unsupported by the evidence or controlled by an error of law. State v. Black, 400 S.C. 10, 16, 732 S.E.2d 880, 884 (2012). The appellate court "does not re-evaluate the facts based on its own view of the preponderance of the evidence but simply determines whether the trial court's ruling is supported by any evidence." Edwards, 384 S.C. at 508, 682 S.E.2d at 822.

         LAW/ANALYSIS

         Young argues the trial court erred in denying his Batson motion. We agree.

         In Batson, 476 U.S. at 89, the Supreme Court of the United States held the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States forbids a prosecutor from challenging "potential jurors solely on account of their race or on the assumption that black jurors as a group will be unable impartially to consider the State's case against a black defendant." In Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 59 (1992), the Supreme Court held the Constitution also prohibits a criminal defendant from engaging in purposeful racial discrimination in the exercise of peremptory challenges. When one party strikes a member of a ...


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