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., 06/21/2024
E.g., 06/21/2024

In this Randolph County case, defendant appealed his convictions for attempted first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a firearm by a felon, arguing error in denying his motions to dismiss for insufficient evidence, and error by the trial court in calculating his prior record level. The Court of Appeals found no error. 

In October of 2018, defendant approached the victim at a convenience store and attempted to pull open the victim’s driver’s side door. The door was locked, so defendant tapped on the glass with a revolver while telling the victim to open the door. The victim opened the door and exited the vehicle, but then attempted to grab the gun from defendant. After a scuffle defendant fell to the ground, causing the gun to fire. As the victim fled, defendant fired two more shots at him, missing both times. 

On appeal, defendant argued that since he made no express appeal for money or property, there was insufficient evidence to support his attempted robbery conviction. The Court of Appeals disagreed, noting that defendant “displayed a gun, threatened its use, and made an obvious implied demand.” Slip Op. at 7. The court rejected defendant’s argument that since the events did not occur in a retail setting his words could not be interpreted as an implied demand. 

The court also rejected defendant’s argument that intent for attempted murder could not be inferred by the multiple gunshots because his first shot was accidental, and his second and third shots were wide misses. Defendant also argued his intent could have been to scare or warn the victim, not kill him. The court explained that where multiple shots were fired and at least one was aimed at the victim, sufficient evidence existed to infer intent under State v. Allen, 233 N.C. App. 507 (2014). Likewise, the court held that defendant’s poor aim did not negate the intent or support his argument of scaring or warning the victim, as the victim saw the gun pointed at him before the shots and other factors such as poor lighting likely influenced the accuracy. 

Finally, the court rejected defendant’s argument that the trial court did not properly find substantial similarity between the out-of-state offenses and in-state offenses. The court explained that defendant admitted no evidence to show improper calculation, and “[g]iven the [trial court’s] indication of review in open court and its full execution of the sentencing worksheet finding substantial similarity, this Court presumes the trial court reached this finding properly.” Id. at 12. 

(1) The evidence was sufficient to support charges of attempted armed robbery against both defendants. The defendants and a third person, Moore, planned to rob Bobbie Yates of marijuana. However, once they learned there was a poker game going on in the apartment, they retrieved another weapon and returned to the apartment to rob those present. Upon entering the apartment, Moore took money off the kitchen table where several of the people were playing poker, and proceeded to search their pockets for more money. The robbery lasted between two and four minutes, during which time the defendants continuously pointed their weapons at the people present. After Moore took money from those seated around the kitchen table, he—with shotgun in hand—approached Mr. Allen, who was “passed out” or asleep in the living room. One witness saw Moore search Allen’s pockets, but no one saw Moore take money from Allen. This evidence was sufficient to show that the defendants, acting in concert with Moore, had the specific intent to deprive Allen of his personal property by endangering or threatening his life with a dangerous weapon and took overt acts to bring about this result. (2) The court rejected the defendants argument that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on attempted larceny and attempted common law robbery as lesser-included offenses of attempted armed robbery of Allen. The defendant argued that because Allen was “passed out” or asleep, his life was not endangered or threatened. The court found that where, as here, the defendants were convicted of attempted robbery, their argument failed.

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