State v. McDaris, 367 N.C. 115 (Oct. 4, 2013)

The court per curiam affirmed the unpublished decision of a divided panel of the court of appeals in State v. McDaris, 224 N.C. App. 399 (Dec. 18, 2012) (No. COA12-476). The court of appeals had held that a variance between the indictments and the jury instructions did not deprive the defendant of a defense. The indictments charged the defendant with statutory rape of a 13, 14, or 15 year old but specified that the victim was 15 years old at the time. Based on the evidence, the trial court instructed the jury that it could convict the defendant if the jury found that the victim was 14 or 15 years old. The jury found the defendant guilty. On appeal the defendant argued that the trial court committed reversible error by instructing the jury that it could convict if it found that the acts occurred when the victim was 14 or 15 years old, because the indictments alleged that she was 15 years old. At trial the defendant attempted to prove that the incidents occurred when the victim was 16, which would have been a complete defense. The jury rejected this defense. In light of this, the court of appeals determined that any error was not so prejudicial as to require a new trial.