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Criminal Practice – Criminal Sexual Conduct – Continuance Denied – Last-Minute Motion – Prosecution Argument – Burglary – Intent

Criminal Practice – Criminal Sexual Conduct – Continuance Denied – Last-Minute Motion – Prosecution Argument – Burglary – Intent

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State v. Meggett (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-088-12, 10 pp.) (James E. Lockemy, J.) Appealed from Charleston County Circuit Court. (Kristi Lea Harrington, J.) S.C. App. Full-text opinion.

Holding: At the beginning of his trial — nearly two years after he was arrested and seven months after he was notified that the case would be placed on the trial docket — defendant moved for a continuance so he could have a comforter tested for two-year-old DNA. Defendant made no showing that the comforter had not been cleaned or used by anyone else in the interim. Based on defendant’s inaction in attempting to obtain the comforter prior to requesting a continuance and the lack of evidence supporting his contention that the comforter still contained important evidence, we find the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion for a continuance.

We affirm defendant’s convictions of first-degree burglary and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

In his closing argument, the solicitor said there was no evidence the victim was a prostitute. The solicitor’s comment did not improperly shift the burden of proof or suggest that defendant’s guilt could be inferred from his failure to testify or to present a defense. The comment was made in response to allegations defense counsel made in his opening and closing statements that defendant and the victim were involved in a sex-for-money arrangement.

The solicitor’s remark was not improper as it was made to urge the jury to avoid drawing an inference not supported by the record. Since the solicitor’s comment was not improper, the trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion for a curative instruction.

Finally, defendant entered the victim’s home at night without permission. Moments after the victim awoke, defendant briefly brought up her outstanding debt and then sexually assaulted her. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the state, we believe defendant’s actions after entering the victim’s home supported a reasonable inference that he possessed the intent to commit a crime at the time of entry. Accordingly, the question of defendant’s criminal intent was for the jury to decide; therefore, we affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for a directed verdict.



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