State v. McLawhon, COA23-814, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Mar. 19, 2024)

In this Pitt County case, defendant appealed his convictions for statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult, sexual act by a substitute parent or custodian, and indecent liberties with a child, arguing plain error in admitting a detective’s testimony that she could not interview defendant during the investigation. The Court of Appeals found no plain error. 

Defendant came to trial for sexual offenses with his adopted daughter. During the trial, the detective who interviewed the victim/daughter testified about her investigation. During this testimony, the detective testified that she had spoken with defendant’s attorney “and was unable to get [defendant] to come in for an interview.” Slip Op. at 6. Defendant did not object to this testimony.  

The Court of Appeals rejected defendant’s argument that admitting the detective’s statement was plain error, noting that defense counsel elicited similar testimony on cross-examination. Because defense counsel inquired about the timeline of the investigation and prompted similar testimony from the detective, defendant could not establish plain error from the direct testimony admitted.