The identity of defendant’s accomplice was not at issue, yet the trial court erroneously allowed the state to present evidence that, several months before the attack on the victim, the accomplice was stopped while driving a gold Cadillac, as corroboration of the victim’s testimony that the accomplice drove his gold Cadillac to the victim’s home on the day of the attack. We have little doubt that the state presented the traffic-stop evidence simply for its spillover prejudicial effect—to paint defendant as someone who consorted with law breakers—but the evidence was so feckless that it an easy call for us to deem it harmless.
We affirm defendant’s conviction for attempted murder.
Defendant contends the trial court erred when it allowed the accomplice to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. We disagree.
Though the trial court’s in camera examination of the accomplice may have been too specific (and involved an unnecessary inquiry of a police witness), we affirm the upholding of the accomplice’s right to not testify. The hazard of incrimination was openly apparent.
The accomplice was not facing just a risk of prosecution; he was already being prosecuted. Almost anything the accomplice could utter about the incident would likely be used against him at his upcoming trial. The trial court well understood the situation and also knew the accomplice’s proposed testimony was at odds with what the state was contending was the truth.
State v. Lawrence (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-081-21, 7 pp.) (Garrison Hill, J.) Appealed from Dorchester County Circuit Court (Maite Murphy, J.) Susan Barber Hackett for appellant; Alan McCrory Wilson, William Frederick Schumacher and David Michael Pascoe for respondent. S.C. App.