State v. Jennings, 209 N.C. App. 329 (Jan. 18, 2011)

The trial court did not err by allowing the State’s expert in forensic computer examination to testify that individuals normally try to hide proof of their criminal activity, do not normally save incriminating computer conversations, the defendant would have had time to dispose of incriminating material, and that someone who sets up a site for improper purposes typically would not include their real statistics. Law enforcement officers may testify as experts about the practices criminals use in concealing their identity or criminal activity. The testimony properly explained why, despite the victim’s testimony that she and defendant routinely communicated through instant messaging and a web page and that defendant took digital photographs of her during sex, no evidence of these communications or photographs were recovered from defendant’s computer equipment, camera, or storage devices. Even if error occurred, it was not prejudicial in light of overwhelming evidence of guilt.