State v. Gabriel, 207 N.C. App. 440 (Oct. 19, 2010)

The trial court did not err by admitting a witness’s out of court statements. When a State’s witness gave trial testimony inconsistent with his prior statements to the police, the State cross-examined him regarding his prior statements. After the witness denied making the statements, the trial court overruled a defense objection and admitted, for purposes of impeachment by the State, a transcript of the witness’s prior statements. The court rejected the argument that this constituted improper use of extrinsic evidence for impeachment. The rule against using extrinsic evidence to impeach a witness on collateral matters prohibits the introduction of the substance of a prior statement to impeach a witness’s denial that he or she made the prior statement because the truth or falsity of that denial was a collateral matter. However, when the witness not only denies making the prior statements but also testifies inconsistently with them, the rule does not prohibit impeaching a witness’s inconsistent testimony with the substance of the prior statements. Here, the substance of the witness’s prior statements properly was admitted to impeach his inconsistent testimony, not his denial.