State v. Maness, 363 N.C. 261 (Jun. 18, 2009)

The trial judge did not err by declining to give a peremptory instruction on a non-statutory mitigating circumstance that the defendant accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct. While the defendant admitted killing the victim and acknowledged that the killing was a terrible mistake, he only authorized his lawyers to concede guilt to second-degree murder. A willingness to plead guilty to second-degree murder is evidence only of the defendant’s willingness to lessen exposure to the death penalty or a life sentence upon a conviction for first-degree murder.