State v. Knight, ___ N.C. App. ___, 821 S.E.2d 622 (Oct. 16, 2018)

In this gang-related case involving two shootings and charges of first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, attempted first-degree murder, and discharging a weapon into an occupied dwelling, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to sever. Here, the transactional connection between the offenses was sufficient for joinder. Each arose from a continuous course of violent criminal conduct related to gang rivalries. The evidence tended to show that the second shooting was in retaliation for the first. The two shootings occurred the same day; the same pistol was used in both; and witnesses testified to evidence that applied to both shootings, or testified that they were present at both crime scenes. Additionally, neither the number of offenses nor the complexity of the evidence offered required severance. The evidence was not unduly complicated or confusing. The jury instructions clearly and carefully separated the offenses, and the verdict forms unmistakably distinguished the offenses by using the victim’s names. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that severance was necessary to protect his constitutional right to choose to testify with respect to some of the charges but not others. The court noted that a trial court does not abuse its discretion by refusing to sever multiple offenses against the same defendant where the defendant’s only assertion of prejudice is that he might have elected to testify in one of the cases and not in the others.