Tuesday, April 25, 2006

S.C. Court of Appeals finds no error in denial of motion to sever the charges or murder and trafficking

In State v. Rice, two separate indictments were issued against Rice. The first was for trafficking in cocaine, the second for murder. The trial court refused the sever the charges and the court of appeals affirmed.

The cocaine trafficking charge arose out of a traffic stop the police set up because they suspected Rice of Johnson's murder. The police found the gun believed to be the murder weapon in the same search that produced the cocaine that forms the basis of the cocaine trafficking charge. The State surmised Rice's motive for murdering Johnson was in part to retrieve the cocaine and money Johnson stole from Rice's car. When the police arrested Rice at the traffic stop, he was found with large amounts of cocaine and money. Moreover, the testimony at trial revealed the relationship between Rice and Johnson was largely based on selling drugs. The State's theory as to the motive for Johnson's murder involved the drugs Johnson stole from Rice when he stole Rice's car as well as the drug-related argument the two recently had involving the marijuana. Hence, the relationship between the two charges counseled against severing them.

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