South Carolina v. WilliamsAnnotate this Case
Petitioner Gerald Williams was convicted of three counts of attempted murder related to his alleged shooting into an occupied mobile home where he knew his intended victim was present, but did not realize two other individuals were also present. Under the common law, transferred intent “makes a whole crime out of two halves by joining the intent to harm one victim with the actual harm caused to another.” Normally, transferred intent applies to general-intent crimes. However, attempted murder is a specific-intent crime in South Carolina, and the South Carolina Supreme Court had not yet addressed whether transferred intent could supply the requisite mens rea for such a crime. Because this case was tried without objection as a general-intent crime, the Supreme Court found the doctrine of transferred intent applied in this instance. The Court declined to address the applicability of transferred intent to a specific-intent crime such as attempted murder and vacate the portion of the court of appeals' opinion dealing with this issue. The Court found in light of the facts of this case, there was no error in failing to charge the jury on the lesser-included offense of assault and battery in the first degree (AB-1st). The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the court of appeals as modified.