In determining whether solicitor’s office investigator Dylan Hightower should be qualified as an expert in cell site location information, the trial judge delved deeply into the extent of Hightower’s education and into the complexity of his proposed testimony. From the trial judge’s “robust” examination of Hightower, this court can clearly see the trial judge understood and exercised her responsibility as gatekeeper. The judge understood the second Rule 702, SCRE, element “the expert witness is qualified,” inquired deeply into the complexity of the witness’s proposed testimony, thoroughly familiarized herself with the facts and circumstances of the case, came to a clear understanding of Hightower’s intended testimony and the knowledge on which it was based, carefully thought through defendant’s objection to Hightower’s qualifications, soundly applied the law, and articulated in detail her thought process in concluding that Hightower did possess the necessary qualifications to give the testimony he was being asked to give. This thorough analysis of the evidentiary objection before the court was, in fact, the “textbook” exercise of discretion.
We affirm the Court of Appeals decision to uphold defendant’s convictions for murder and kidnapping, and we hold the trial court acted within its discretion by admitting Hightower’s testimony because he was sufficiently qualified as an expert to testify about his analysis of defendant’s cell site location information.
State v. Wallace (Lawyers Weekly No. 010-050-23, 10 pp.) (John Few, J.) Appealed from Beaufort County Circuit Court (Carmen Mullen, J.) On writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals. Susan Barber Hackett for petitioner; Alan McCrory Wilson, Melody Jane Brown, Jeffrey Yount, William Joseph Maye and Isaac McDuffie Stone for respondent. South Carolina Supreme Court