State v. McCutcheon, ___ N.C. App. ___, 2021-NCCOA-699 (Dec. 21, 2021)

In this first-degree murder case, the trial court did not commit plain error under Rules 401 and 402 by admitting testimony from the victim’s brother and the brother’s wife concerning how the victim’s death affected the brother.  With regard to the brother’s testimony, the Court of Appeals determined that the testimony satisfied the “low bar of logical relevance” because it rebutted evidence the defendant had elicited from another witness suggesting that the brother had spoken to that witness shortly after the murder and explained why that was unlikely.  The testimony also had bearing on the brother’s credibility and allowed the jury to better understand his motives or biases.  The testimony of the brother’s wife explaining how the victim’s death had affected him also was relevant because it explained the timeline of the brother’s communication with the other witness and corroborated the brother’s testimony.  The Court went on to determine that the defendant failed to preserve certain victim-impact evidence arguments and had failed to show that she was prejudiced by the admission of any of the challenged evidence.