State v. Edwards, ___ N.C. App. ___, 820 S.E.2d 862 (Sept. 18, 2018)

In a case involving convictions for attempted first-degree murder, statutory sex offense with a child by an adult, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, first-degree kidnapping, and taking indecent liberties with a child, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s MAR challenging his aggravated sentence. The defendant’s MAR asserted that the State failed to allege the aggravating factors in the indictment and to narrowly define the aggravating factors in violation of Apprendi. The court began by rejecting the defendant’s argument that aggravating factors must be alleged in the indictment. Here, the State complied with G.S. 15A-1340.16, filing a written notice of aggravating factors months before trial that informed the defendant that the State sought to prove two identified statutory aggravating factors. After the jury convicted the defendant of the underlying offenses, the court allowed the State to proceed on the aggravating factors, and the jury found that each offense was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel and that the victim was very young. The State complied with the statute and the procedure prescribed by the statute satisfies Apprendi.

            The court went on to reject the defendant’s argument that the jury instruction for the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating factor was unconstitutionally vague, citing controlling precedent.

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