State v. Thomas, ___ N.C. App. ___, 834 S.E.2d 654 (Oct. 15, 2019)

The defendant was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and other charges and appealed. He argued the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress, his motion to dismiss, and in admitting certain evidence. The Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed.

The defendant objected that a charge of kidnapping should have been dismissed for failure to show confinement or restraint beyond that necessary for the accompanying robbery. “Whether a restraint was more than that which is an inherent or inevitable part of another felony depends on ‘whether the victim is exposed to greater danger than is inherent in the armed robbery itself.’” Here, the defendant assaulted, robbed, and murdered the victim’s boyfriend before walking her through the house at gunpoint and attempting to twice shoot her in the head before leaving (the gun malfunctioned). This was sufficient removal beyond what was necessary to accomplish the robbery. Those acts were not “inherent” to the robbery, and “increased [the victim’s] vulnerability and helplessness beyond what was necessary to enable the defendant to rob her.” The motion to dismiss was therefore properly denied.