State v. Jones, 216 N.C. App. 225 (Oct. 4, 2011)

The trial court’s admission of photo identification evidence did not violate the defendant’s right to due process. The day after a break-in at her house, one of the victims, a high school student, became upset in school. Her mother was called to school and brought along the student’s sister, who was also present when the crime occurred. After the student told the Principal about the incident, the Principal took the student, her sister and her mother into his office and showed the sisters photographs from the N.C. Sex Offender Registry website to identify the perpetrator. Both youths identified the perpetrator from one of the pictures. The mother then contacted the police and the defendant was eventually arrested. At trial, both youths identified the defendant as the perpetrator in court. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the Principal acted as an agent of the State when he showed the youths the photos, finding that his actions “were more akin to that of a parent, friend, or other concerned citizen offering to help the victim of a crime.” Because the Principal was not a state actor when he presented the photographs, the defendant’s due process rights were not implicated in the identification. Even if the Principal was a state actor and the procedure used was unnecessarily suggestive, the procedure did not give rise to a substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification given the circumstances of the identification. Finally, because the photo identification evidence was properly admitted, the trial court also properly admitted the in-court identifications of defendant.