State v. Miller, COA22-453, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Jun. 20, 2023)

In this Mecklenburg County case, defendant appealed his convictions for first-degree felony murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, arguing plain error in admitting an interview recording and error in calculating his prior record level. The Court of Appeals found no plain error or error. 

Defendant was convicted of a murder committed at a Charlotte bus stop in May of 2018. At trial, a recording of an interview conducted by detectives with defendant was published to the jury. The recording was redacted by agreement between the parties. Defendant did not object to the publication of the recording to the jury during trial. However, on appeal, defendant argued that admitting the recording was plain error as portions contained hearsay, inadmissible character evidence, was unfairly prejudicial, and shifted the burden of proving his innocence.

Although the State argued that defendant’s appeal was barred by the invited error doctrine, the Court of Appeals rejected this argument, noting that although defendant agreed to the redactions of the recording, he did not take any affirmative action to admit the recording. Despite this, the court found no plain error in admitting the recording, noting that the record also contained two eyewitnesses who identified defendant as the shooter, surveillance evidence showing someone dressed like defendant at the scene, and testimony from defendant himself corroborating the testimony of the witnesses and surveillance footage. The court also found no issue with the prior record level calculation, noting the trial court used computerized criminal history information known as DCI-CCH to establish defendant’s prior convictions. The court explained that “a DCI-CCH is a record maintained by the Department of Public Safety and may be used to prove Defendant’s prior convictions pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.14(f).” Slip Op. at 10.