Law School Case Brief
State v. Cribb, 310 S.C. 518 - 426 S.E.2d 306 (1992)
Where an analyzed substance has passed through several hands, the evidence must not leave it to conjecture as to who had the substance and what was done with it between the taking and the analysis. The party offering evidence is required to establish, at least as far as practicable, a complete chain of evidence, tracing possession from the time the specimen is taken from the human body to the final analysis. The identity of the persons who have handled the evidence must be established.
Defendant Johnny Raymond Cribb was involved in a car accident, which seriously injured three occupants of the other car. Before the police arrived, defendant called a friend and was taken to a nearby hospital. His doctor drew a blood sample for diagnostic purposes. When the police located defendant, they asked the doctor to perform a blood alcohol test (BAT). Rather than drawing a second sample, the doctor had the BAT performed on the existing sample. Troopers later obtained arrest warrants for defendant based on the test result. At trial, defendant attempted to prohibit introduction of the BAT result by asserting that the troopers violated the implied consent statute and that the chain of custody was not established. However, the trial judge allowed the State to introduce the test result as evidence of defendant's alleged intoxication. Defendant was thereafter convicted, and instituted the present appeal.
Was it proper to admit the blood alcohol test as evidence against defendant?
The Court held that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the BAT into evidence because the chain of custody for the blood sample was not established. According to the Court, there was no evidence of who took the sample or who handled it during the testing process. Hence, the case was remanded for a new trial.
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