State v. Pender, 218 N.C. App. 233 (Jan. 17, 2012)

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State used six of its peremptory challenges to excuse prospective African-American jurors in violation of Batson. At a Batson hearing, the State offered race-neutral explanations as to why it excused each juror, including unresponsiveness, deceit, failure to make eye contact, alleged acquaintance with the defendant’s former girlfriend, an extensive history of purchasing pawn tickets, and prior employment at the store where the crime occurred. After weighing these race-neutral explanations, the trial court found that the defendant had not demonstrated purposeful discrimination. The court concluded that “[a]fter careful review, we cannot find error that would justify overturning the trial court’s ruling.”