State v. Wright, ___ N.C. App. ___, 798 S.E.2d 785 (Apr. 4, 2017)

In this armed robbery case, the trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of common law robbery. The defendant entered three convenience stores with his face covered and a gun in his hand and stole money in the presence of the store clerks. The defendant argued that the State failed to present evidence that the victims’ lives were endangered or threatened. With respect to two of the robberies, the defendant argued that there was no evidence that he actually pointed his gun at the clerks. With respect to the third, he noted that the clerk testified that she was “never scared.” The court distinguished cases holding that mere possession of a weapon during a robbery is insufficient to support a finding that the victim’s life was endangered or threatened on the basis that in those cases, neither the victim nor the bystanders actually saw the weapon. It went on to note that where the evidence establishes that a defendant held a dangerous weapon that was seen by the victim or a witness during the robbery, cases hold that this element is satisfied. Thus, with respect to the robberies where the clerks saw the defendant holding the gun, the evidence was sufficient. With respect to the third robbery, the court held, citing prior case law, that the State is not required to prove that the victim was in fact afraid.