S.C. Court of Appeals upholds Aiken man's conviction for role in deadly 2015 robbery

Dec. 3—The South Carolina Court of Appeals has denied the appeal of an Aiken man convicted in 2018 for his role in a 2015 robbery that left one man dead.

Justice Stephanie McDonald wrote the opinion affirming the first-degree burglary, kidnapping, armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a violent felony and possession of a weapon during a violent crime convictions of Rashawn Carter, 32, of Aiken.

Carter's lawyer, David Alexander, argued his convictions should be overturned because an unredacted video interview of Carter by Aiken Department of Public Safety officers contained hearsay, shifted the burden of proof to Carter and that officers made prejudicial accusations while interviewing Carter. Alexander also said the video should have been excluded because it was obtained after officers used cellphone data obtained without a warrant to find Carter.

McDonald said the admission of the unredacted video was erroneous but could not have affected the outcome of the trial.

She said the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled there is an exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment's protections of the rights to security of one's person and property.

McDonald said exigent circumstances existed because the suspects in an armed robbery were at large and location data obtained via warrant would not have provided Carter's location.

She said the admission of the video was also erroneous but witness testimony and additional cellphone data — obtained via warrant — also provided the information shown to the jury in the video.

Carter, who pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges on Nov. 5, 2013 according to court records, was arrested on May 27, 2015 for a May 9, 2015 robbery of an apartment in Hahn Village during which one of the robbers, Darius Scruggs, was shot in the head.

An agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a detective from the Aiken Department of Public Safety found Carter in Columbia using cellphone location data from T-Mobile obtained without a warrant and Carter allegedly agreed to come back to Aiken and participate in a recorded interview.

On Feb. 15, 2018, Carter was found guilty of first-degree burglary, kidnapping, armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted a violent felony and possessing a weapon during a violent crime.

Judge Doyet Early III sentenced Carter to 35 years in prison with credit for time served.

With the court's ruling, Carter can ask the Court of Appeals for a rehearing or appeal the decision to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Carter is currently incarcerated at the McCormick Correctional Institution. His projected release date is Jan. 9, 2047.