State v. May, ___ N.C. App. ___, 804 S.E.2d 584 (Aug. 15, 2017)

(1) Because the trial court failed to make statutorily required findings of fact addressing statutory mitigating factors prior to sentencing the juvenile defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a new sentencing hearing was required. The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. The trial court sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole on the murder charge. Immediately after judgment was entered, the defendant gave oral notice of appeal. Almost one month later, the trial court entered an order making findings of fact based on G.S. 15A-1340.19B to support its determination that the defendant should be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, as opposed to a lesser sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. The court agreed with the defendant that the trial court erred by sentencing him to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, where it failed to make findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of the sentence. (2) Because the trial court had no jurisdiction to enter findings of fact after the defendant gave notice of appeal, the court vacated the order entered upon these findings. Once the defendant gave notice of appeal, the trial court’s jurisdiction was divested. Note: one judge concurred, but wrote separately to note concern about how the trial courts are addressing discretionary determinations of whether juvenile should be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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