Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

About

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.

Instructions

Navigate using the table of contents to the left or by using the search box below. Use quotations for an exact phrase search. A search for multiple terms without quotations functions as an “or” search. Not sure where to start? The 5 minute video tutorial offers a guided tour of main features – Launch Tutorial (opens in new tab).

E.g., 11/27/2021
E.g., 11/27/2021
State v. Graham, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Mar. 17, 2020) aff'd on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 2021-NCSC-125 (Oct 29 2021)

The defendant was charged with four counts of engaging in sexual acts against a child under 13 and taking indecent liberties with a child. The defendant was alleged to have touched a child, A.M.D., in sexual manner on several occasions over a period of one to two years. The state’s evidence at trial consisted primarily of testimony from the victim, A.M.D., and corroborating testimony from other witnesses to whom she had disclosed the abuse. 

Testimony from one of the witnesses offered as corroboration of the victim’s testimony included details about additional abuse not testified to by the victim. Distinguishing an omission or silence on a subject from direct contradiction, and noting that the “vast majority” of the witness’s corroborating testimony did conform to the victim’s testimony, the court held that the other witness’s testimony was sufficiently similar to the victim’s and the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting it for corroborative purposes. Assuming arguendo that it was error, it was not prejudicial, since other witnesses also testified to corroboration that more closely tracked the victim’s trial testimony. Therefore, the defendant did not show there was a reasonable possibility the jury would have evaluated the victim’s credibility differently without this particular witness’s corroboration.

In this murder case, the trial court did not err by admitting a witness’s prior statement to the police to corroborate his in-court testimony. According to the defendant, the prior statement added “critical facts” that were not otherwise shown by the evidence. The court found that many of the critical facts noted by the defendant were actually present in the witness’s testimony. It found that other facts were not critical, noting that slight variations do not render prior statements inadmissible.

 

The trial court did not err by allowing the introduction of a video recording of the State’s witness being interviewed by law enforcement to corroborate the officer’s prior testimony about the interview.

In this kidnapping and rape case, the defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when the trial court admitted, for the purposes of corroboration, statements made by deceased victims to law enforcement personnel. The statements were admitted to corroborate statements made by the victims to medical personnel. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that because the statements contained additional information not included in the victims’ statements to medical personnel, they exceeded the proper scope of corroborative evidence and were admitted for substantive purposes. The court noted in part, “the mere fact that a corroborative statement contains additional facts not included in the statement that is being corroborated does not render the corroborative statement inadmissible.” 

(1) The trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting a recording of a witness’s interview with the police for corroboration and impeachment. The witness in question testified for the State. Although much of her testimony was consistent with her earlier interview, it diverged in some respects. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State had called the witness in pretext so as to be able to introduce her prior inconsistent statements as impeachment. In this respect it noted the trial court’s finding that her testimony was “90 percent consistent with what she said before.” Additionally the trial court gave appropriate limiting instructions. The court went on to reject the defendant’s argument that admitting the recording for both corroboration and impeachment is “logically contradictory and counterintuitive,” noting that the State did not introduce a single pretrial statement for both corroboration and impeachment; rather, it introduced a recording of the witness’s interview, which included many pretrial statements, some of which tended to corroborate her testimony and some of which tended to impeach her testimony. 

In this robbery case, the court held that no plain error occurred when the trial court admitted into evidence for purposes of corroboration a videotape of an interview with the defendant’s accomplice, when the accomplice testified at trial. The defendant asserted that the accomplice’s statements in the videotape contradicted rather than corroborated his trial testimony. The court disagreed noting that the accomplice’s statements during the interview established a timeline of the robberies, an account of how they were committed, and the parties’ roles in the crimes and that all of these topics were covered in his testimony at trial. While the accomplice did add the additional detail during the interview that he likely would not have committed the robberies absent the defendant’s involvement, this did not contradict his trial testimony.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to admit, for purposes of corroboration, a prior consistent statement made by a State’s witness. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the prior statement differed significantly from the witness’s trial testimony. 

No plain error occurred when the trial court admitted the child victim’s prior statements to corroborate her trial testimony. Any differences between the statements and the victim’s trial testimony were “minor inconsistencies.”

State v. Brown, 211 N.C. App. 427 (May. 3, 2011) aff’d, 365 N.C. 465 (Mar 9 2012)

In a case in which the defendant was charged with sexually assaulting his minor child, the court held that no plain error occurred when the trial judge admitted the victim’s prior statements that at the time in question the defendant sexually assaulted both her and her sister. The victim testified at trial that her sister was present when the assault occurred did not state that the sister was assaulted. Although the victim’s prior statements did not exactly mirror her in-court testimony, they did not contradict it and, in fact, the additional information strengthened and added credibility to her version of the events by explaining and expanding upon the sister’s presence during the incident.

 

A witness’s written statement, admitted to corroborate his trial testimony, was not hearsay. The statement was generally consistent with the witness’s trial testimony. Any points of difference were slight, only affecting credibility, or permissible because they added new or additional information that strengthened and added credibility to the witness’s testimony.

A witness’s out-of-court statement to an officer was properly admitted to corroborate her trial testimony. Although the witness’s out-of-court statement contained information not included in her in-court testimony, the out-of-court statement was generally consistent with her trial testimony and the trial court gave an appropriate limiting instruction. 

State v. Horton, 200 N.C. App. 74 (Sept. 15, 2009)

In a child sexual assault case, prior statements of the victim made to an expert witness regarding “grooming” techniques employed by the defendant were properly admitted to corroborate the victim’s trial testimony. Although the prior statements provided new or additional information, they tended to strengthen the child’s testimony that she had been sexually abused by the defendant.

Officer’s testimony relating an incident of digital penetration described to him by the victim was properly admitted to corroborate victim’s testimony, even though the victim did not mention the incident in her testimony. The victim testified that the first time she remembered the defendant touching her was in the “summer time of 2002” and that he touched her other times including incidents in December 2003 and July 2004. The victim’s established a course of sexual misconduct by defendant and the officer testified to an incident within defendant’s course of conduct that did not directly contradict the victim’s testimony. The officer’s testimony sufficiently strengthened the victim’s testimony to warrant its admission as corroborative evidence. 

Show Table of Contents