State v. Houser, 239 N.C. App. 410 (2015)

No Error
  • Defendant was convicted of felony child abuse on his 3-year old stepdaughter where he inflicted serious bodily injury and the jury found two aggravating factors: EHAC & victim was very young.
  • Officer Testimony: The officer’s testimony that:  1) a photograph taken of the home on the day that the 3-year-old was injured showed a hole in the sheetrock wall with a blonde hair in the hole, 2)  the girl had blonde hair, 3) the hair in the sheetrock was not consistent with the defendant’s version of how the hole was created; and 4)  the picture led to the officers asking for consent from the girl’s mother to go back to the home was not expert opinion testimony or a comment on the defendant’s truthfulness.  Instead, it was an explanation of the investigative process that caused the officers to return to the home and collect the hair sample.
  • Instruction as to EHAC: Although the court did not use the pattern jury instruction on EHAC, Defendant did not prove that absent that error, the jury probably would have reached a different result or that the error was so fundamental it cause a miscarriage of justice.  The state proving all four factors set forth in Blackwelder, 309 N.C. at 413-14: excessive brutality, or physical pain, psychological suffering, or dehumanizing aspects not normally present in the offense.


Criminal Cases with Application to Child Welfare
Felony Child Abuse
Especially Heinous, Atrocious, or Cruel Offense
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