State v. Lanford, 225 N.C. App. 189 (Jan. 15, 2013)

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of assault by strangulation on the same victim. The defendant argued that because his obstruction of the victim’s airway was caused by the defendant’s hand over the victim’s nose and mouth, rather than “external pressure” applied to the neck, it was “smothering” not “strangling”. Rejecting this argument, the court concluded:

We do not believe that the statute requires a particular method of restricting the airways in the throat. Here, defendant constricted [the victim’s] airways by grabbing him under the chin, pulling his head back, covering his nose and mouth, and hyperextending his neck. Although there was no evidence that defendant restricted [the victim’s] breathing by direct application of force to the trachea, he managed to accomplish the same effect by hyperextending [the victim’s] neck and throat. The fact that defendant restricted [the victim’s] airway through the application of force to the top of his neck and to his head rather than the trachea itself is immaterial.