State v. Matthews, 218 N.C. App. 277 (Jan. 17, 2012)

Because the defendant did not present any evidence at trial, the trial court committed reversible error by denying the defendant final closing argument. Defense counsel cross-examined an officer who responded to a call about the break-in and identified defense Exhibit 2, a report made by that officer following his investigation. During cross defense counsel elicited the officer’s confirmation that, after viewing video surveillance footage, a man named Basil King was identified as a possible suspect. The trial court denied the defendant's motion to make the final closing argument because it believed this cross-examination constituted the introduction of evidence pursuant to Rule 10 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts. Although the defendant introduced for the first time evidence in the officer’s report that Basil King was a suspect, the defendant did not introduce the officer’s actual report into evidence, nor did he have the officer read the report to the jury. Furthermore, this evidence was relevant to the investigation and was contained in the officer’s own report. It was the State, the court noted, that first introduced testimony by the officer and other witnesses concerning the investigation and the evidence leading the police to identify the defendant as a suspect. It concluded: “We cannot say that the identification of other suspects by the police constituted new evidence that was not relevant to any issue in the case." (quotation omitted). Therefore, this testimony cannot be considered the introduction of evidence pursuant to Rule 10.