State v. Randall, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 219 (Jun. 5, 2018)

(1) The trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion for post-conviction DNA testing. The defendant, who pleaded guilty to multiple sexual assaults, filed a pro se motion seeking DNA testing of evidence he alleged was collected by law enforcement, including vials of blood and saliva, a bag of clothes, and a rape kit. The court found that the post-conviction DNA testing statute was not intended to “completely forestall” the filing of such a motion when the defendant enters a guilty plea. It continued, noting that when such a motion is filed “[t]he trial court is obligated to consider the facts surrounding a defendant’s decision to plead guilty in addition to other evidence, in the context of the entire record of the case, in order to determine whether the evidence is ‘material’” within the meaning of the post-conviction DNA testing statute. A defendant’s burden to show materiality requires more than a conclusory statement that the ability to conduct the requested testing is material to the defense. Here, the defendant’s assertion in his motion that his DNA would not be found in the rape kit essentially amounts to a statement that testing would show he was not the perpetrator. The court noted that it has previously held that such a statement is insufficient to establish materiality. The court thus found that the defendant failed to show the DNA testing would have been material to his defense. Specifically, the record indicates that the defendant was convicted of multiple counts of statutory rape for encounters with a single victim which took place over many months; the defendant confessed to the crimes; and the victim reported that the defendant had sexually abused her. The defendant’s motion requested that DNA testing be performed on certain items recovered from the victim over a month after the defendant’s last alleged contact with the victim. The lack of DNA on those items, recovered well after the alleged crimes, would not conclusively prove that the defendant was not involved in the conduct at issue. Additionally, the Sheriff’s office indicated that the only relevant evidence it had—or ever had—was a computer that an officer searched for child pornography with the defendant’s consent.

(2) The court found that the defendant’s challenge to the trial court’s denial of his request for an inventory of biological evidence pursuant to G.S. 15A-268 was not properly before it. The defendant asserted that he requested an inventory from a hospital and DSS, whom he alleged had clothing, hair and blood samples, and other items. However, there was no evidence of these requests in the record. Without any evidence that the defendant made a proper request pursuant to the statute and without any indication that the trial court considered this issue, the court found that there was no ruling for it to review.