February 5, 2018
From Beaufort County Brooks P. Goldsmith, Circuit Court Judge
Eccles Ferguson, Jr., of Ferguson & Ferguson, LLC, of
Beaufort, and Derek M. Wright, of Atlanta, Georgia, for
Attorney General Alan Wilson, Deputy Attorney General Donald
J. Zelenka, and Senior Assistant Attorney General W. Edgar
Salter, III, all of Columbia, and Solicitor Isaac McDuffie
Stone, III, of Bluffton, for Respondent.
by a jury of the murder of Quantez Greer and the attempted
armed robbery of Jessica Power, Walter Tucker appeals,
claiming the trial judge erred by (1) denying his motion for
directed verdict; (2) admitting prior bad act evidence
against him in violation of Rules 403 and 404, SCRE; and (3)
denying his motion for a new trial and refusing to hold a
full evidentiary hearing on his claim of juror misconduct. We
Power knew Walter Tucker from their shared interest in
marijuana. When Power's friend Quantez Greer wanted to
buy some, she steered him to Tucker. On September 6, 2012,
Power and Greer drove to meet Tucker in Beaufort at a trailer
owned by Antonio Brewer to close the deal. After Power hid
$2, 500.00 of Greer's cash in her purse, she and
Greer walked to the front door of the trailer. Tucker let
Power in, but quickly shut the door and locked it, leaving
Greer outside. Once inside, Power noticed another person,
later identified as Travis Polite, reclining on a couch.
Tucker pointed a handgun at Power and demanded she hand over
the money. When she refused, someone pushed her to the floor.
Tucker fumbled with Power's purse but could not find any
money in it, so he threw it back to her and again demanded
she produce the money. Power testified she retrieved the
money and gave it to Tucker. At this point, the drug deal
went from bad to worse. Polite asked Tucker for his gun,
which Tucker passed to him as Polite bounded out the front
door. Power testified she then heard a gunshot outside, and
Tucker, who had drawn another gun, ran out the front. Power
next heard multiple gunshots coming from the yard, and she
retreated further into the trailer's interior. A third
man, presumably Antonio Brewer, burst from a bedroom and fled
out the back door. Power then scampered out the back as well,
seeking refuge under her ex-boyfriend's nearby trailer.
Power testified Tucker called her on her cell phone while she
was hiding and told her if she said anything about the events
"he would hurt my family and kill me."
to 911 calls reporting the gunshots, police arrived on scene
to find Greer lying on the ground dead from what was later
determined to be a gunshot wound to the chest. After further
investigating the scene and interviewing witnesses, including
Power and Brewer, police obtained an arrest warrant for
Tucker, who was later apprehended hiding under a sink at his
brother's home in Asheville, North Carolina.
Bigelow met Tucker in Savannah in the fall of 2014 while he
was awaiting trial. She testified Tucker told her he did not
have anything to do with Greer's murder, but "he
wasn't sure. He said he was running and that he was
shooting and his adrenaline was high." Tucker told
Bigelow that Power would not testify because he had
threatened her, and that he needed someone named Cedrick
a.k.a. Savage to kill Polite. According to Bigelow, Cedrick
drove a black Camry with a pistol hidden under the gearshift.
Bigelow had, in turn, given this information to law
enforcement, and an investigator located a Cedrick A. McDuffy
in custody in Hampton County. His booking record showed he
had "Savage" tattooed on his chest. A search of
Cedrick's impounded black Camry revealed a pistol hidden
in the gearshift. An incident report from a recent traffic
stop of Cedrick listed Tucker and Bigelow among his
passengers in the Camry.
State tried Polite in January 2015, and a jury convicted him
of Greer's murder. The State claimed Polite fired the
fatal shot, but prosecuted Tucker for murder under a theory
of accomplice liability, kidnapping, and armed robbery.
Brewer, who had testified in Polite's trial, was shot and
killed a few weeks before Tucker's April 2015 trial.
jury convicted Tucker of murder and attempted armed robbery,
but acquitted him of kidnapping. After his conviction, Tucker
moved for a new trial, asserting a juror (Juror A) had not
disclosed her friendship with Brewer and Quornisha Jones, a
listed but uncalled State's witness. After hearing
arguments from counsel and reviewing affidavits, the trial
judge denied Tucker's motion for new trial and his
request for further hearing on the jury misconduct issue.
first claims the trial judge should have directed a verdict
in his favor. We must view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the State, and we see plenty to support the
elements of murder and attempted armed robbery. See State
v. Bennett, 415 S.C. 232, 235, 781 S.E.2d 352, 353
(2016). Power's recounting of Tucker seizing her purse at
gunpoint was sufficient proof of his specific intent to
commit armed robbery. Her testimony of hearing gunshots after
Tucker ran outside brandishing a pistol, together with
Bigelow's testimony and evidence of Greer's cause of
death, were enough to carry the murder charge to the jury on
the theory of accomplice liability, as they showed he was an
active participant not a mere bystander. See State v.
Harry, 420 S.C. 290, 300, 803 S.E.2d 272, 277 (2017).
Cellphone tower records, DNA evidence from a drink bottle
found at Brewer's trailer, and a neighbor's testimony
about seeing a dark mid-sized sedan (similar to one Tucker
had previously been seen driving) leaving the area