State v. Edwards, 2022-NCCOA-712, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Nov. 1, 2022)

In this Graham County case, defendant appealed the denial of his motion for appropriate relief (MAR) due to a flaw in the indictment, arguing that the indictment failed to allege a legal entity capable of owning property. The Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of defendant’s MAR.  

The basis of defendant’s argument arose from his conviction for breaking and entering, felony larceny, and felony possession of goods in 1994, after defendant stole a television, VCR, and microwave from what the indictment identified as “Graham County Schools,” with the additional location identified as “Robbinsville Elementary School.” When defendant was subsequently indicted in 2020 for possession of stolen goods or property and safecracking, and attaining habitual felon status, defendant filed a MAR. Defendant argued that “Graham County Schools” was not a legal entity; the trial court denied the MAR, finding that “Graham County Schools” implied the actual ownership of “Graham County Board of Education.” Slip Op. at 2-3. 

The court explained that North Carolina law does require identification of an entity capable of owning property, but “larceny indictments have been upheld where the name of the entity relates back or ‘imports’ an entity that can own property.” Id. at 5. Referencing State v. Ellis, 368 N.C. 342 (2015), the court noted that a larceny indictment listing “North Carolina State University” was upheld although the statute only identifies N.C. State University as a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina. Slip Op. at 6. Here, the court found that “Graham County Schools” similarly imported the Graham County Board of Education.