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Robinson v. State

754 S.E.2d 862 (2014)

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Robinson v. State

South Carolina Supreme Court

754 S.E.2d 862 (2014)

Facts

Four African American men (defendants) robbed a restaurant and its patrons, taking about $875. The men were in their early twenties, carried guns, and wore all-black clothing. After the robbery, an officer patrolling the area observed a car with its lights off sitting in the parking lot of a closed church. The car’s occupants included four men matching the robbers’ description. Backup officers arrived, ordered the men from the car, and frisked them for weapons. Officers found a handgun with its serial number removed on the backseat passenger-side floorboard. None of the men admitted ownership of the handgun. Officers arrested and handcuffed all four men and ordered them to stand behind the car. A search of the car’s passenger compartment revealed a pair of black gloves and other clothing items. The car’s trunk was locked. The arrestees said they did not have the trunk’s key. One arrestee watched nervously each time officers searched near the car’s backseat. Focusing their search in that area, officers discovered a gap in the paneling between the backseat and rear window. The officers pulled the seat forward and found guns, $870, and other clothing items in the car’s trunk. The state (plaintiff) charged the four men with armed robbery and gun possession during commission of a violent crime. The trial court denied the men’s motion to suppress the guns, money, and other evidence. The men were convicted and appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Toal, C.J.)

Concurrence (Pleicones, J.)

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