SC SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES THAT STATE MUST PROVE SPECIFIC ATTEMPT IN ATTEMPT CRIMES.
THE COURT CAN’T ADMIT JAILCALLS OVER DEFENSE COUNSEL’S OBJECTION WITHOUT AT LEAST LISTENING TO THE CALLS FIRST
A cursory review of State v. Raheem D. King and why intent must be specific for attempt crimes.
King was found guilty of attempted murder, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. He was sentenced to a collective 45 years in the pen. The Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction for armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, but reversed and remanded King’s attempted murder conviction. The Supreme Court modified, but affirmed the Court of Appeals ruling.
In 2010 in North Charleston a cab driver was called at 4:06 a.m. to pick up a customer. The cab driver obliged, and the pickup location was well known by the cab driver as he had lived on the street for several years and so did his aunt. Upon arrival the cab driver actual saw a man leaving his currently abandoned aunt’s home. What a coincidence, right? The man got in the cab and the cab driver questioned him about why he was on his aunt’s property. An argument ensued. The man cocked a pistol, put a gun to the cab driver’s face, and demanded money. The cab driver gave the man some money and tried to flee from his car when he was shot in the elbow. The man gave chase and shot at the cab driver several times. Ultimately, through phone records and a photo lineup it was believed that Raheem D. King was the ‘man’.
King was arrested and jailed. He made 63 calls to the cellphone number that was used to call the cab on the night of the incident. In the first recorded phone call, King provided a person on the other end of the line with a pin to the cellphone. The State wanted to let the jury hear the 15-minute recording. Defense counsel objected but the Judge let the State publish it anyway. The Supreme Court ruled that allowing the jury to listen to the tap was improper because the Judge refused to listen to the tape prior to allowing the jury to listen to it. If a Judge doesn’t listen to the tape he can’t do the required analysis of whether the probative value is outweighed by any unfair prejudice. In this case, the prejudicial value was mountainous. The tape was riddled with profanity, racial slurs, and prior bad acts of King.
To save you the boredom of the entire analysis concerning attempt crimes I write that the Court clarified that an attempt crime must be one of specific intent. The Court looked to the legislature’s intent and reasoned that it was clear the legislature intended attempt crimes to be those of specific intent, not general.
During King’s trial an Officer testified to hearsay in an effort to prove King fired more than one gunshot. The State argued the Officer merely testified to what ‘she learned as part of her investigation of the crime scene’ and that even if it was hearsay it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court ruled it was hearsay and warned prosecutors against using ‘investigative information’ as it appears this is an attempt to circumvent the rules against hearsay.’
What is the likelihood that King would get a cab driver that knew he was in a house he had no business being in and then question him about it? The world is a strange place, my friends.