State v. Young, 368 N.C. 188 (Aug. 21, 2015)

In this murder case the court held that the court of appeals erred by concluding that the trial court committed reversible error in allowing into evidence certain materials from civil actions. The relevant materials included a default judgment and complaint in a wrongful death suit stating that the defendant killed the victim and a child custody complaint that included statements that the defendant had killed his wife. The court of appeals had held that admission of this evidence violated G.S. 1-149 (“[n]o pleading can be used in a criminal prosecution against the party as proof of a fact admitted or alleged in it”) and Rule 403. The court held that the defendant did not preserve his challenge to the admission of the child custody complaint on any grounds. It further held that the defendant failed to preserve his G.S. 1-149 objection as to the wrongful death evidence and that his Rule 403 objection as to this evidence lacked merit. As to the G.S. 1-149 issue, the court found it dispositive that the defendant failed to object at trial to the admission of the challenged evidence on these grounds and concluded that the court of appeals erred by finding that the statutory language was mandatory and allowed for review absent an objection.