State v. Cannon, 370 N.C. 487 (Mar. 2, 2018)

The court per curiam affirmed a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 804 S.E.2d 199 (2017). Over a dissent, the court of appeals had held that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of aiding and abetting larceny. The charges arose out of the defendant’s involvement with store thefts. A Walmart loss prevention officer observed Amanda Eversole try to leave the store without paying for several clothing items. After apprehending Eversole, the loss prevention officer reviewed surveillance tapes and discovered that she had been in the store with William Black, who had taken a number of items from store shelves without paying. After law enforcement was contacted, the loss prevention officer went to the parking lot and saw Black with the officers. Black was in the rear passenger seat of an SUV, which was filled with goods from the Walmart. A law enforcement officer testified that when he approached Black’s vehicle the defendant asked what the officers were doing. An officer asked the defendant how he knew Black and the defendant replied that he had only just met “them” and had been paid $50 to drive “him” to the Walmart. The defendant also confirmed that he owned the vehicle. Citing this and other evidence, the court of appeals held that the trial court did not err by denying the motion to dismiss.

In its per curiam opinion, the supreme court “specifically disavowed” the taking of judicial notice by the court of appeals of the prevalence of Wal-Mart stores in Gastonia and in the area between Gastonia and Denver, as well as of the “ubiquitous nature of Wal-Mart stores.”