State v. Legrand, COA22-586, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Jul. 5, 2023)

In this Randolph County case, defendant appealed his convictions for attempted first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a firearm by a felon, arguing error in denying his motions to dismiss for insufficient evidence, and error by the trial court in calculating his prior record level. The Court of Appeals found no error. 

In October of 2018, defendant approached the victim at a convenience store and attempted to pull open the victim’s driver’s side door. The door was locked, so defendant tapped on the glass with a revolver while telling the victim to open the door. The victim opened the door and exited the vehicle, but then attempted to grab the gun from defendant. After a scuffle defendant fell to the ground, causing the gun to fire. As the victim fled, defendant fired two more shots at him, missing both times. 

On appeal, defendant argued that since he made no express appeal for money or property, there was insufficient evidence to support his attempted robbery conviction. The Court of Appeals disagreed, noting that defendant “displayed a gun, threatened its use, and made an obvious implied demand.” Slip Op. at 7. The court rejected defendant’s argument that since the events did not occur in a retail setting his words could not be interpreted as an implied demand. 

The court also rejected defendant’s argument that intent for attempted murder could not be inferred by the multiple gunshots because his first shot was accidental, and his second and third shots were wide misses. Defendant also argued his intent could have been to scare or warn the victim, not kill him. The court explained that where multiple shots were fired and at least one was aimed at the victim, sufficient evidence existed to infer intent under State v. Allen, 233 N.C. App. 507 (2014). Likewise, the court held that defendant’s poor aim did not negate the intent or support his argument of scaring or warning the victim, as the victim saw the gun pointed at him before the shots and other factors such as poor lighting likely influenced the accuracy. 

Finally, the court rejected defendant’s argument that the trial court did not properly find substantial similarity between the out-of-state offenses and in-state offenses. The court explained that defendant admitted no evidence to show improper calculation, and “[g]iven the [trial court’s] indication of review in open court and its full execution of the sentencing worksheet finding substantial similarity, this Court presumes the trial court reached this finding properly.” Id. at 12.