State v. Heelan, ___ N.C. App. ___, 823 S.E.2d 106 (Dec. 18, 2018)

The evidence was sufficient to support a conviction of attempting to take indecent liberties with a child. The defendant posted a Craigslist advertisement seeking female companionship. An adult police officer posing as a 14-year-old girl named Brittany responded to the ad. The two exchanged over 100 messages over a period of 15 days, during which the defendant sent her numerous sexually explicit messages and formulated a plan for them to meet for sex. When the defendant arrived at the location, he was met by police and arrested. In his car officers found two Viagra pills and a tube of KY jelly. At trial the defendant asserted that he did not believe Britney to be an actual minor, but rather an adult female he was role-playing with to help live out her sexual fantasy of pretending to be an underage female in pursuit of an older man. The State’s evidence however indicated that when an officer first interviewed the defendant, he admitted that he believed Britney to be only 14 years old. Additionally in a videotaped custodial interview, the defendant expressed remorse for his action and admitted that he believed Britney to be 14 years old. The defendant was found guilty and appealed. On appeal the defendant argued that the trial court erred by denying his pretrial motion to quash the indecent liberties indictment and his later trial motion to dismiss that charge where the evidence showed that Britney was not an actual child. The court disagreed, finding that the statute covers attempts and here the evidence was sufficient to establish that the defendant attempted to engage in indecent liberties with a child. Specifically, the State presented substantial evidence that the defendant believed Britney to be a minor, with whom he was communicating and sexually pursuing.