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., 11/27/2021
E.g., 11/27/2021

In this homicide case, the trial court did not err by admitting evidence of four firearms found in the car when the defendant was arrested following a traffic stop. The State offered the evidence to show the circumstances surrounding defendant’s flight. Defendant argued that the evidence was irrelevant and inadmissible because nothing connected the firearms to the crime. The court disagreed:

Defendant ran away from the scene immediately after he stabbed [the victim]. Three days later, he was apprehended following a traffic stop in South Carolina. Defendant, who was riding as a passenger in another person’s car, possessed a passport bearing a fictitious name. Also found in the car was a piece of paper with directions to a mosque located in Laredo, Texas. Four firearms were found inside the passenger compartment of the car: a loaded assault rifle, two sawed-off shotguns, and a loaded pistol. The circumstances surrounding defendant’s apprehension in South Carolina, the passport, the paper containing directions to a specific place in Texas, and the firearms are relevant evidence of flight.

In a murder case, the trial court did not err by admitting testimony concerning nine-millimeter ammunition and a gun found at the defendant’s house. Evidence concerning the ammunition was relevant because it tended to link the defendant to the scene of the crime, where eleven shell casings of the same brand and caliber were found, thus allowing the jury to infer that the defendant was the perpetrator. The trial court had ruled that evidence of the gun—which was not the murder weapon—was inadmissible and the State complied with this ruling on direct. However, in order to dispel any suggestion that the defendant possessed the nine-millimeter gun used in the shooting, the defendant elicited testimony that a nine-millimeter gun found in his house, in which the nine-millimeter ammunition was found, was not the murder weapon. The court held that the defendant could not challenge the admission of testimony that he first elicited.

In this multiple murder case where the defendant killed the victims with a shotgun, evidence of firearms and ammunition found in the defendant’s residence, ammunition found in his truck, instructions for claymore mines found on his kitchen table, and unfruitful searches of two residences for such mines was relevant to show the defendant’s advanced planning and state of mind.

In a murder case, the trial court did not err by admitting a knife found four years after the crime at issue. The defendant objected on relevancy grounds. The defendant’s wife testified that he told her that he murdered the victim with a knife that matched the description of the one that was found, the defendant was seen on the day of the murder approximately 150 yards from where the knife was found, and the knife was consistent with the description of the likely murder weapon provided by the State’s pathologist. The court went on to find no abuse of discretion in admitting the knife under Rule 403.

In a drug trafficking and maintaining a dwelling case, evidence that a handgun and ammunition were found in the defendant’s home was relevant to both charges. 

In an armed robbery case, admission of evidence of two guns found in the defendant’s home was reversible error where “not a scintilla of evidence link[ed] either of the guns to the crimes charged.”

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