State v. Snead, 368 N.C. 811 (Apr. 15, 2016)

Reversing a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, 239 N.C. App. 439 (2015), the court held, in this larceny case, that the State properly authenticated a surveillance video showing the defendant stealing shirts from a Belk department store. At trial Toby Steckler, a regional loss prevention manager for the store, was called by the State to authenticate the surveillance video. As to his testimony, the court noted:

Steckler established that the recording process was reliable by testifying that he was familiar with how Belk’s video surveillance system worked, that the recording equipment was “industry standard,” that the equipment was “in working order” on [the date in question], and that the videos produced by the surveillance system contain safeguards to prevent tampering. Moreover, Steckler established that the video introduced at trial was the same video produced by the recording process by stating that the State’s exhibit at trial contained exactly the same video that he saw on the digital video recorder. Because defendant made no argument that the video had been altered, the State was not required to offer further evidence of chain of custody. Steckler’s testimony, therefore, satisfied Rule 901, and the trial court did not err in admitting the video into evidence.

The court also held that the defendant failed to preserve for appellate review whether Steckler’s lay opinion testimony based on the video was admissible.