State v. Antone, 240 N.C. App. 408 (Apr. 7, 2015)

Where the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder on the theories of felony murder and premeditation and deliberation, the trial court violated G.S. 15A-1340.19C(a) by imposing a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole without assessing mitigating factors, requiring a remand for a new sentencing hearing. The trial court’s findings of fact and order failed to comply with the statutory mandate requiring it to “include findings on the absence or presence of any mitigating factors[.]” The trial court’s order made “cursory, but adequate findings as to some mitigating circumstances but failed to address other factors at all. The court added:

We also note that portions of the findings of fact are more recitations of testimony, rather than evidentiary or ultimate findings of fact. The better practice is for the trial court to make evidentiary findings of fact that resolve any conflicts in the evidence, and then to make ultimate findings of fact that apply the evidentiary findings to the relevant mitigating factors . . . . If there is no evidence presented as to a particular mitigating factor, then the order should so state, and note that as a result, that factor was not considered. (citations omitted).

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