State v. Curtis, 369 N.C. 310 (Dec. 21, 2016)

The court per curiam affirmed the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 782 S.E.2d 522 (2016). The Court of Appeals had held, over a dissent, that where the restraint and removal of the victims was separate and apart from an armed robbery that occurred at the premises, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss kidnapping charges. The defendant and his accomplices broke into a home where two people were sleeping upstairs and two others--Cowles and Pina-- were downstairs. The accomplices first robbed or attempted to rob Cowles and Pina and then moved them upstairs, where they restrained them while assaulting a third resident and searching the premises for items that were later stolen. The robberies or attempted robberies of Cowles and Pina occurred entirely downstairs; there was no evidence that any other items were demanded from these two at any other time. Thus, the court could not accept the defendant’s argument that the movement of Cowles and Pina was integral to the robberies of them. Because the removal of Cowles and Pina from the downstairs to the upstairs was significant, the case was distinguishable from others where the removal was slight. The only reason to remove Cowles and Pina to the upstairs was to prevent them from hindering the subsequent robberies of the upstairs residents and no evidence showed that it was necessary to move them upstairs to complete those robberies. Finally, the court noted that the removal of Cowles and Pina to the upstairs subjected them to greater danger.