State v. Solomon, ___ N.C. App. ___, 815 S.E.2d 425 (May. 1, 2018)

In this second-degree murder vehicle accident and felony speeding to elude case, the trial court did not err by excluding, under Rule 401, the defendant’s testimony regarding his medical diagnoses. At trial, the defendant attempted to testify to his cognitive impairments and behavioral problems. The State objected, arguing that the defendant had failed to provide notice of an insanity or diminished capacity defense, and failed to provide an expert witness or medical documentation for any of the conditions. On voir dire, the defendant testified that he suffered from several mental disorders including Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Pediatric Bipolar Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Defense counsel stated the testimony was not offered as a defense but rather so that “the jury would be aware of [the defendant’s] condition and state of mind.” The trial court determined that lay testimony from the defendant regarding his various mental disorders was not relevant under Rule 401. The court found no error, reasoning:

Defendant attempted to offer specific medical diagnoses through his own testimony to lessen his culpability or explain his conduct without any accompanying documentation, foundation, or expert testimony. Defendant’s testimony regarding the relationship between his medical diagnoses and his criminal conduct was not relevant without additional foundation or support. Such evidence would have required a tendered expert witness to put forth testimony that complies with the rules of evidence. Without a proper foundation from an expert witness and accompanying medical documentation, Defendant’s testimony would not make a fact of consequence more or less probable from its admittance.

The court went on to hold that even if error occurred, it was not prejudicial.