State v. Royster, 373 N.C. 157 (Nov. 1, 2019)

The defendant was seen handling a black box in connection with a possible drug transaction/ransom payment. The next day, officers found a black box full of cocaine in the woods nearby. The defendant was charged with and convicted of trafficking by possession. He appealed, arguing that the State’s evidence was insufficient. A divided court of appeals agreed that there was insufficient evidence that there was cocaine inside the box at the time that defendant was seen handling it. On further appeal, the supreme court held that the defendant adequately preserved the sufficiency issue, as his motion to dismiss at the close of all the evidence included an argument about possession. The supreme court divided equally on the merits, with Justice Davis not participating. The opinion of the court of appeals therefore stands without precedential value.