State v. Cureton, 223 N.C. App. 274 (Nov. 6, 2012)

(1) After being read his Miranda rights, the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the fact that he never signed the waiver of rights form established that that no waiver occurred. The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that he was incapable of knowingly and intelligently waiving his rights because his borderline mental capacity prevented him from fully understanding those rights. In this regard, the court relied in part on a later psychological evaluation diagnosing the defendant as malingering and finding him competent to stand trial. (2) After waiving his right to counsel the defendant did not unambiguously ask to speak a lawyer. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that he made a clear request for counsel. It concluded: “Defendant never expressed a clear desire to speak with an attorney. Rather, he appears to have been seeking clarification regarding whether he had a right to speak with an attorney before answering any of the detective’s questions.” The court added: “There is a distinct difference between inquiring whether one has the right to counsel and actually requesting counsel. Once defendant was informed that it was his decision whether to invoke the right to counsel, he opted not to exercise that right.”