State v. Wiley, COA22-899, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Aug. 15, 2023)

In this Person County case, defendant appealed his conviction for first-degree murder, arguing error in dismissal of a juror who no longer lived in Person County. The Court of Appeals found no error. 

On the third day of trial, Juror #4 reported car trouble and that he would be late for the trial proceedings. The trial court dispatched the sheriff to assist the juror. When the sheriff arrived at Juror #4’s reported location, he was not there, but arrived soon thereafter. The residents of the address informed the sheriff that the juror did not live there anymore and had moved to Durham County, and Juror #4 confirmed this when he arrived. The juror told the trial court that he had recently moved to Durham County and spent time in both places. After hearing from both sides, the trial court dismissed the juror and replaced him with an alternate. 

Taking up defendant’s argument, the Court of Appeals noted that G.S. 15A-1211(d) permits the trial court to dismiss a juror even if a party has not challenged the juror, if the trial court determines grounds for challenge are present. Here, Juror #4 was arguably not qualified to serve under G.S. 9-3, which requires jurors to be residents of the county for the trial. The court turned to State v. Tirado, 358 N.C. 551 (2004), for a similar fact pattern of a juror being dismissed for moving prior to the trial. Based on this precedent, the trial court committed no abuse of discretion when dismissing Juror #4.