State v. Campbell, ___ N.C. App. ___, 810 S.E.2d 803 (Feb. 6, 2018)

review granted, ___ N.C. ___, 813 S.E.2d 849 (Jun. 7, 2018)

In a case involving a theft of property from a church, the court held, over a dissent, that the evidence was insufficient to support a larceny conviction. The defendant argued that the State failed to present sufficient evidence that the defendant took the property in question. The evidence showed that the church had evening services on August 15 which ended at about 9 PM. The next morning the church secretary locked the church, after discovering that it had been left unlocked. On August 19 the Pastor discovered that audio equipment, including microphones, sound system wires, a music receiver, and a pair of headphones, was missing from the church. Additionally, some computer equipment had been moved around. There were no signs of forced entry. No fingerprints or DNA evidence were taken from the premises. However, an officer found a wallet in the baptistery changing area containing the defendant’s license. None of the stolen equipment was ever located. Two days later a Detective met with the defendant, who was incarcerated in jail on an unrelated matter. The defendant admitted that he had been at the church and he had “done some things” but didn’t recall all of what he had done. He remembered that the door to the church was open and that he went in to get a drink of water and to pray. He said he left the church and called 911 after having chest pains. When emergency medical services arrived, the defendant was not carrying a bag and had nothing in his pockets. On these facts, the State’s evidence relies solely on the fact that the defendant was in the church during a four-day time period when the stolen items were taken. This is insufficient to establish that the defendant committed the larceny.