State v. Gettys, 243 N.C. App. 590 (Oct. 20, 2015)

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a special instruction on sequestration. In closing argument, the prosecutor argued, in part: “[Defendant is] cherry-picking the best parts of everybody’s story after … he’s had the entire trial to listen to what everybody else would say. You’ll notice that our witnesses didn’t sit in here while everybody else was testifying.” After the jury was instructed and left the courtroom to begin deliberations, the defendant asked the trial court to instruct the jury as follows: “In this case, all witnesses allowed by law were sequestered at the request of the State. These witnesses could not be present in court except to testify until they were released from their subpoenas, or to discuss the matter with other witnesses or observers in court. By law, the defendant and lead investigator for the State cannot be sequestered.” Given the trial court’s conclusion that the requested instruction did not relate to a dispositive issue in the case, it did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant’s request.