State v. Grimes, 284 N.C. App. 162 (Jun. 21, 2022)

In this Beaufort County case, defendant appealed jury verdicts of guilty for second degree kidnapping and assault on a female. Defendant provided three grounds for appeal, (1) denial of his motion to dismiss the kidnapping charge based upon the State’s failure to offer evidence of intent, (2) that the trial court failed to define “serious bodily injury” in jury instructions, and (3) that the statute creating assault on a female is unconstitutional.

Reviewing the first issue on appeal, the Court of Appeals explained that to prove kidnapping, the State must present sufficient evidence that defendant had specific intent to do serious bodily harm when removing or transporting the victim. The court found that the State presented substantial evidence of defendant’s intent through testimony that defendant put his car in reverse and drove away while the victim’s leg was still outside and the passenger door was open, and continued to drive while the victim pleaded with defendant to stop the car. Defendant also grabbed the victim while driving, pulling her hair and choking her. This behavior represented sufficient evidence that defendant removed the victim with intent to do serious bodily harm to justify the trial court’s denial of the motion to dismiss.

For the second issue, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court used the pattern jury instructions for first and second degree kidnapping when instructing the jury. Those instructions do not contain a definition of “serious bodily injury.” Because defendant could not supply caselaw or a statute requiring this definition in the jury instruction, the lack of a definition did not rise to the level of plain error justifying a new trial.

Defendant’s final issue argued that the statute creating assault on a female was unconstitutional due to discrimination on the basis of sex. However, defendant did not raise the issue at trial and thus the issue was not preserved for appellate review, and the Court of Appeals declined to exercise discretion under Rule 2 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure to review the issue. The court found no error in the trial court’s judgment.