State v. Pastuer, 365 N.C. 287 (Oct. 7, 2011)

An equally divided court left undisturbed the court of appeals’ decision in State v. Pastuer, 205 N.C. App. 566 (July 20, 2010) (holding that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge alleging that he murdered his wife; the State’s case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence; the court held that although the State may have introduced sufficient evidence of motive, evidence of the defendant’s opportunity and ability to commit the crime was insufficient to show that he was the perpetrator; according to the court, no evidence put the defendant at the scene; although a trail of footprints bearing the victim’s blood was found at her home and her blood was found on the bottom of one of the defendant’s shoes, the court concluded that the State failed to present substantial evidence that the victim’s DNA could only have gotten on the defendant’s shoe at the time of the murder; evidence that the defendant was seen walking down a highway sometime around the victim’s disappearance and that her body was later found in the vicinity did not supply substantial evidence that he was the perpetrator). The court noted that the effect of its decision is that the court of appeals’ opinion stands without precedential value.