State v. Hester, 212 N.C. App. 286 (Oct. 4, 2011)

In a case involving first-degree murder and other charges, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s mistrial motion. On July 16th the trial court learned that while two jurors were leaving the courthouse the previous day after the verdict was rendered in the guilt phase, they saw and heard a man thought to be the defendant’s brother, cursing and complaining about the trial. The two jurors informed the other jurors about this incident. On July 20th, the trial court learned that over the weekend juror McRae had discussed the trial with a spectator at the defendant’s trial. The trial court removed McRae and replaced him with an alternate juror. The court concluded that there was no evidence of jury misconduct prior to or during deliberations as to guilt and that there was no prejudice as to sentencing because the defendant received a sentence of life imprisonment not death.