State v. Smith, 206 N.C. App. 404 (Aug. 17, 2010)

The State properly impeached the defendant with prior inconsistent statements. In this murder case, the defendant claimed that the child victim drowned in a bathtub while the defendant met with a drug dealer. Although the defendant gave statements prior to trial, he never mentioned that meeting. At trial, the State attempted to impeach him with this fact. The court noted that to qualify as inconsistent, the prior statement must have eliminated “a material circumstance presently testified to which would have been natural to mention in the prior statement.” The court noted that the defendant voluntarily gave the police varying explanations for why the child stopped breathing (he threw up and then stopped breathing after falling asleep; he drowned in the tub). An alleged meeting while the child was in the tub would have been natural to include in these prior statements. Thus, the court concluded, his prior inconsistent statements were properly used for impeachment.