State Supreme Court Opinion on Directed Verdict Standards

On April 11, 2011, the South Carolina Supreme Court published an opinion in State v. Bostick. The appeal involved whether or not the State had presented sufficient evidence to survive the defendant's motion for directed verdict.

In Bostick the defendant was charged with murder. The victim had been struck in the head with an object and then left as her house was set on fire. She actually died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. It was determined that the fire was started using gasoline as an accelerant.

At trial the State was able to present the following evidence:

1.    The victim's personal items were discovered on a burn pile at the defendant's family's home.
2.    Although the burn pile fire was started with an accelerate the defendant's mother denied any.
3.    The defendant had a gasoline pattern on his shoes and gasoline was used in the burning of the victim's home.
4.    DNA evidence could exclude 99% of the population, but not the victim, from the evidence found on the defendant's clothes.

In a directed verdict motion the standard is for the Court to take all of the evidence presented in the light most favorable to the State. The Supreme Court found that all of the evidence submitted at the trial only created a suspicion that the defendant was guilty and that there was not sufficient evidence to forward the case on at that point to the jury.

Categories: Criminal Defense

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