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State v. Dean

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

May 8, 2019

The State, Appellant/Respondent,
v.
Edward Lee Dean, Respondent/Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2016-001004

          Heard February 5, 2019

          Appeal From Greenwood County Frank R. Addy, Jr., Circuit Court Judge

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson and Senior Assistant Attorney General David A. Spencer, both of Columbia; and Solicitor David Matthew Stumbo, of Greenwood, all for Appellant/Respondent.

          E. Charles Grose, Jr., of Grose Law Firm, of Greenwood, for Respondent/Appellant.

          LOCKEMY, C.J.

         The State appeals the trial court's order granting a new trial in Edward Lee Dean's conviction of first degree burglary, grand larceny, and malicious injury to real property. We dismiss the State's appeal.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         John Lester Hart, Jr. arrived at his Greenwood County home on August 13, 2012 to find the back door to his home and a storage room door had been forcibly opened. A door to a car in the yard had also been forced open. Hart immediately called the Greenwood County Police Department (the Department). When Hart went inside his home, "everything was ransacked." The gun cabinet in one of the bedrooms had been pried open and the weapons were missing. A second gun cabinet in the storage room had "the door ripped open" and several, but not all, of the firearms were missing. In total, fifteen firearms, jewelry, a gold coin collection, and money were missing from Hart's home. The value of the missing items exceeded $10, 000.

         Officer Travis Cox was the first responder from the Department. Officer Cox observed that the front door, the storage room door, and a gun cabinet had been forcibly opened, and that the house was in "disarray." Hart gave Officer Cox serial numbers for several guns that were missing. Officer Cox entered the serial numbers into NCIC, the national database for firearms and warrants. Additionally, officers photographed a wet shoeprint on the pavement and a second shoeprint on the front door. The shoeprints have never been matched to any shoes. Officers took a crowbar and a hammer with a wooden handle from the storage room to be processed for latent prints. No prints were ever recovered from either the crowbar or hammer. Hart later sent Investigator Dale Boyer a list of all the missing firearms in addition to the list of serial numbers he initially provided Officer Cox.

         Edward Lee Dean lived in Unit A in a duplex on Taggart Street in Greenwood County. On August 27, 2012, the Department's dispatch received an anonymous call about items located underneath a home on Taggart Street. The call came from Christi Lopez, Dean's cousin. Captain Chip Davenport responded to the call and went to the Taggart Street address. The only person present was Mamie Quarles in Unit B of the duplex. Captain Davenport spoke with Mamie, who told him her daughter, Kaleeka Quarles, leased the apartment, but was not home. Captain Davenport then spoke to Kaleeka on the phone and received consent to search under the entire duplex. Dean was not home when Captain Davenport searched the duplex. Captain Davenport received consent to search inside Unit A of the duplex from Dean's mother, Annie Dean.

         Officers found a .308 rifle and a second rifle, along with office equipment under the duplex. Captain Davenport ran the available serial number through NCIC and the .308 rifle matched a serial number Hart provided. The second rifle found under the duplex matched the description of Hart's missing bolt action rifle, but no serial number was listed. No fingerprints were ever recovered from either of the rifles found underneath the duplex. Inside the duplex, officers found ammunition that matched the description of ammunition missing from Hart's home.

         Adrian Gaston, Antwine Anderson, and two juveniles were arrested on August 31, 2012 for a separate burglary in Greenwood County. On September 5, 2012, Gaston implicated himself, along with Dean and Anderson in the burglary at Hart's home. Gaston testified Anderson drove Gaston and Dean to Hart's home. When they arrived, Anderson backed into the driveway and either Dean or Anderson kicked in the door while Gaston stayed outside as the look out. Gaston testified Dean "stripped the lock off [the storage room door] with his hand." Gaston, Dean, and Anderson all went into the storage room and took guns. They also took guns from a storage building on Hart's property. Gaston stated they took approximately nine or ten guns from Hart's home. After they loaded the guns in Anderson's car, they returned to Anderson's house to divide the guns between the three of them. They took Dean back to his home and watched Dean put the guns under his house on Taggart Street. Based on Gaston's statements to Greenwood County police, Dean was served with arrest warrants for the burglary at Hart's home on September 12, 2012.

         A. Dean's Trial

         Dean filed a pre-trial motion for continuance, judicial supervision, and a scheduling order, as well as a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion to compel disclosure of Brady[1] information on December 11, 2013.

         During the pretrial hearing on December 11, 2013, the State informed the court it was calling two of the three co-defendents' cases, Dean and Anderson, to trial and that Gaston was testifying against both. The trial court asked the State whether it had made any arrangements or deals with Gaston. The State responded that it had made no offers to Gaston. Dean's counsel responded that he had a "hard time believing that Mr. Gaston is testifying in order to give information to help the State seek a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole. . . . And [he] can't believe that [Gaston's counsel] would allow [Gaston] to do that unless they had some sort of assurances that they were going to get some benefit from the State." The court asked the State a second time whether any deals had been made with Gaston and the State assured the court that no deal had been made. The court then stated:

I'm hearing that there's no deals, there's no testimony, there's no assurances, there's [been] no bargaining, there's been no promises made and if that is in fact the case and Mr. Gaston wants to plead straight up to burglary first degree, that's perfectly fine. If however that burglary first degree suddenly becomes petty [sic] larceny, that does seem somewhat peculiar.

         The trial court denied Dean's motion to delay sentencing because Dean had not been convicted at the time of the pre-trial discussion. However, the court suggested delaying any sentencing of Dean and holding his new trial motion in abeyance pending Gaston's sentencing. The court also ordered that the State "shall be under a continuing duty to disclose any promises, agreements, deals, or arrangements made with any of the State's witnesses."

         Dean's trial was initially called on January 14, 2014. The court continued the trial due to the threat of inclement weather, but reiterated that the State had a continuing duty to disclose any promises or deals made with Gaston. Dean's trial was called a second time on March 14-15, 2014 before Judge Addy. Gaston described Dean's involvement in the burglary. Gaston testified on cross-examination that he was not testifying "in order to get out of that trouble," but because he was "[j]ust being honest." [2] Gaston stated he was not expecting any benefit in exchange for his testimony. Dean's counsel asked Gaston whether he "plan[ned] to enter plea negotiations with the prosecutors" and Gaston responded "No, sir."

         Dean was convicted by the jury of first-degree burglary, grand larceny, and malicious injury to property. Dean moved to defer sentencing in accordance with the court's suggestion from the pre-trial hearing in order to wait until Gaston was sentenced. The court stated it was "inclined to request that [it] hear [Gaston's] case as well, just so that everybody can be fed out of the same spoon and treated fairly."

         The court denied Dean's motion to defer sentencing, but took jurisdiction over Gaston's case and requested ...


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