State v. Crumitie, ___ N.C. App. ___, 831 S.E.2d 592 (Jul. 16, 2019)

In this murder and attempted murder case, the trial court did not err in allowing a substitute expert witness to testify to another expert’s conclusions on cell site location data connected to the defendant. The defendant complained that his rights to confront the witness were violated by the absence at trial of the expert that prepared the report. Rejecting this challenge, the court observed:  

Our courts have consistently held that an expert witness may testify as to the testing or analysis conducted by another expert if: (i) that information is reasonably relied on by experts in the field in forming their opinion; and (ii) the testifying expert witness independently reviewed the information and reached his or her own conclusions in this case.

Here, that standard was met—the substitute expert explained the process of cell site analysis and his review of the first expert’s report, and he gave an independent opinion about the defendant’s cell data. The defendant was able to cross-examine the substitute expert with the first expert’s report. He was also given notice ahead of trial of the State’s intention to rely on a substitute expert witness.  There was therefore no error in admitting the testimony, and the convictions were unanimously affirmed.