Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 09/25/2022
E.g., 09/25/2022

In this Yadkin County case, a defendant pled guilty to second-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon in 2013. The defendant filed a motion for appropriate relief asserting that the indictment for the attempted robbery charge was fatally defective in that it did not include the name of a victim, but rather described the victims as “employees of the Huddle House” located at a particular address. The trial court denied the motion. A divided panel of the Court of Appeals agreed with the defendant. State v. Oldroyd, 271 N.C. App. 544 (2020). The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, concluding that the indictment sufficiently informed the defendant of the crime he was accused of and protected him from being twice put in jeopardy for the same offense. The Court rejected the defendant’s argument, based on cases decided before the enactment of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1975, that indictments for crimes against a person must “state with exactitude” the name of a person against whom the offense was committed. The Court also distinguished prior cases finding indictments defective when they named the wrong victim or did not name any victim at all. Under the modern requirements of G.S. 15A-924(a)(5), the Court concluded that the attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon charge here was not defective. Therefore, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the trial court order denying the defendant’s motion for appropriate relief.

State v. Murrell, 370 N.C. 187 (Sept. 29, 2017)

Affirming an unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals, the court held that a robbery indictment was fatally defective. The indictment alleged, in relevant part, that the defendant committed the bank robbery “by way of reasonably appearing to the [named] victim . . . that a dangerous weapon was in the defendant’s possession, being used and threatened to be used by communicating that he was armed to her in a note.” The Court of Appeals had held that the indictment was defective because it failed to name any dangerous weapon that the defendant allegedly employed. The Supreme Court noted that an essential element of armed robbery is that the defendant possessed, used, or threatened use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon. Here, the indictment does not adequately allege this element. The court instructed: an armed robbery indictment “must allege the presence of a firearm or dangerous weapon used to threaten or endanger the life of a person.” 

In an appeal from a conviction obtained in the Eve Carson murder case, the court held that a robbery indictment was not fatally defective. The indictment alleged that the defendant:

unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did steal, take, and carry away and attempt to steal, take and carry away another’s personal property, A 2005 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER AUTOMOBILE (VIN: JTEDP21A250047971) APPROXIMATE VALUE OF $18,000.00; AND AN LP FLIP PHONE, HAVING AN APPROXIMATE VALUE OF $100.00: AND A BANK OF AMERICA ATM CARD, HAVING AN APPROXIMATE VALUE OF $1.00; AND APPROXIMATELY $700.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY of the value of $18,801.00 dollars, from the presence, person, place of business, and residence of ______________________________. The defendant committed this act having in possession and with the use and threatened use of firearms and other dangerous weapons, implements, and means, A SAWED OFF HARRINGTON & RICHARDSON TOPPER MODEL 158, 12 GAUGE SHOTGUN (SERIAL # L246386) AND AN EXCAM GT-27 .25 CALIBER SEMI-AUTOMATIC PISTOL (SERIAL # M11062) whereby the life of EVE MARIE CARSON was endangered and threatened.

The defendant argued that the indictment was defective because it failed to name the person from whose presence property was taken. The court reasoned that Carson’s life could not have been endangered and threatened unless she was the person in the presence of the property.

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