February 5, 2018
From Greenville County R. Lawton McIntosh, Circuit Court
Appellate Defenders Taylor Davis Gilliam and John Harrison
Strom, both of Columbia, for Appellant.
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Assistant Attorney
General Vann Henry Gunter, Jr., both of Columbia; and
Solicitor William Walter Wilkins, III, of Greenville, all for
Reed Rose appeals her convictions of third-degree arson,
filing a false police report, burning personal property to
defraud an insurer, and making a false insurance claim to
obtain benefits for fire loss, for which the trial court
sentenced her to a cumulative term of five years' home
incarceration with five years' probation. On appeal, Rose
argues the trial court erred by (1) refusing to direct a
verdict of acquittal on all charges when the State failed to
present substantial circumstantial evidence of her guilt, (2)
qualifying Investigator Benjamin Cannon as an expert in the
origin and causes of fires, and (3) permitting the expert
testimony of Investigator Charles Gonzalez regarding the use
of his accelerant detection canine at the scene. We affirm.
morning of July 27, 2012, Paula Rose called 911 to report a
burglary. During the call, Rose stated three men were in her
garage threatening her and demanding she open a gun safe.
While on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, Rose heard a
strange noise. She stepped out of her bedroom and realized a
wicker couch on her back porch was on fire. The responding
authorities found Rose outside worried about her pets who
were still inside the home. Rose was covered in soot and wore
jeans, a black shirt, and open-toed shoes. The firemen
deduced there were two fires-one on the back porch and one on
the front porch; however, the only active fire was in the
rear of the home.
after the responders extinguished the fire, Investigator
Randy Morgan arrived. The only potential traces of the
alleged burglars were some footprints and disposed latex
gloves near the front and back porches.
Investigator Morgan testified nothing was stolen from the
property, but both of the gates and the garage were found
Investigator Cannon's preliminary investigation, he found
a red gas can on the front porch and a yellow gas can on the
back porch. He noted "the aroma of gasoline on the front
and prob[ably] kerosene or diesel-type on the back
porch." Investigator Cannon subsequently called his
colleague Investigator Gonzalez and his accelerant detection
canine Misty to the scene. Misty alerted to multiple areas on
the front and back porch.
taking Rose's statement, Investigator Morgan met with
Investigators Cannon and Gonzalez to compare their findings.
Based upon various oddities and inconsistencies, such as the
location of the fires in relation to the alleged burglary;
discrepancies between Rose's 911 call and victim
statement; the superficial damage to the safe; the lack of
stolen items; and Rose's calm, unaffected demeanor, all
three investigators felt the case needed further
investigation. Thereafter, they returned to the scene to
further investigate the garage and interior of the home.
the damage to the safe, Investigator Cannon testified there
were "a dozen or so marks" on the "upper right
hand corner" and a few marks around the dial.
Investigator Cannon explained the paint appeared chipped but
there was no substantial damage to the safe. Looking for an
item potentially used by the assailants to attempt to gain
entry to the safe, the investigators found a small hatchet
sitting on a shelf in the garage that appeared to be
undisturbed. The investigators noted the hatchet had paint
chips on the blade. While examining Rose's bedroom, Misty
alerted to a pair of slippers.
trial, Rose moved to exclude evidence of Misty's alerts
and the testing results arising therefrom, arguing the use of
a canine in this context was unreliable. Relying upon
Florida v. Jardines,  the trial court ultimately denied
Rose's motion, finding testimony regarding Misty's
alerts would be admissible if the State established the
proper foundation by showing the dog was properly certified
through a recognized program. Rose renewed this objection at
trial, and the trial court overruled the objection, later
[A]t the end of the hours of preliminary testimony we had
yesterday I don't feel the need to have any further
[argument]. I know what I'm gonna hear . . . my ruling
will be . . . that as long as the appropriate foundation is
laid on the admission of the testimony about the . . . dog
then [it will] be allowed . . . .
close of the State's case, Rose moved for a directed
verdict on all charges, arguing the State failed to present
substantial circumstantial evidence of her guilt. Although
the trial court noted its concern regarding the fraudulent
insurance claim charge, the court ultimately denied
Rose's motion as to all indictments. The jury found Rose
guilty of all charges as indicted, and the trial court
sentenced her to five years' home incarceration with five
years' probation. This appeal followed.