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., 09/22/2021
E.g., 09/22/2021
State v. Blow, 368 N.C. 348 (Sept. 25, 2015)

For the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion, the court reversed the opinion below, State v. Blow, 237 N.C. App. 158 (Nov. 4, 2014). In this child sexual assault case in which the defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree rape, the court of appeals had held that the trial court erred by failing to dismiss one of the rape charges. The court of appeals agreed with the defendant that because the victim testified that the defendant inserted his penis into her vagina “a couple” of times, without identifying more than two acts of penetration, the State failed to present substantial evidence of three counts of rape. The court of appeals found that the defendant’s admission to three instances of “sex” with the victim was not an admission of vaginal intercourse because the defendant openly admitted to performing oral sex and other acts on the victim but denied penetrating her vagina with his penis. The dissenting judge believed that the State presented substantial evidence that was sufficient, if believed, to support the jury’s decision to convict of three counts of first degree rape. The dissenting judge agreed with the majority that the victim’s testimony about penetration “a couple” of times would have been insufficient to convict the defendant of three counts, but noted that the record contains other evidence, including the defendant’s admission that he “had sex” with the victim “about three times.”

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of first-degree rape. Because the victim could not remember the incident, she was unable to testify that she had been raped or that the defendant was the perpetrator. The evidence showed that while out with friends one night, the victim met the defendant. Later that evening, two strangers, John and Jean, responded to a woman screaming for help. They found a man straddling the victim. After throwing the man off, John saw him pull up his pants over an erection. The man ran, chased by John and another person. Jean stayed with the victim, who was on the ground with her pants and underwear pulled to her ankles. An officer saw the chase and detained the defendant, whose pants were undone. John and Jean participated in a show up identification of the defendant shortly thereafter; both identified the defendant as the perpetrator. The victim was taken to the emergency room where a nurse found debris and a small black hair consistent with a pubic hair inside the victim’s vagina. The nurse testified in part that debris cannot enter the vagina unless something had opened the vagina; thus the debris could not have entered merely because she was on the ground. The defendant unsuccessfully moved to dismiss, was convicted and appealed. On appeal the defendant argued that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence that penetration occurred and that he was the perpetrator. The court disagreed, succinctly concluding that a reasonable juror could have inferred that the victim was vaginally penetrated against her will and that the defendant was the perpetrator.

State v. Combs, 226 N.C. App. 87 (Mar. 19, 2013)

In a case in which the defendant was convicted of rape of a child under G.S. 14-27.2A, there was substantial testimony to establish that the defendant engaged in vaginal intercourse with the victim. The victim testified that the defendant put his “manhood inside her middle hole.” Although the victim used potentially ambiguous terms, she explained them, noting that a middle hole is where “where babies come from,” a bottom hole is where things come out of that go in the toilet, and a third hole is for urination. She also described the defendant’s manhood as “down at the bottom but on the front” and not a part a woman has.

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