Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

Instructions

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E.g., 08/07/2022
E.g., 08/07/2022

In this Rowan County case, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and determined that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence in the record to support denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss charges of robbery and first-degree murder.

At trial, evidence was admitted that...

The defendant was seen handling a black box in connection with a possible drug transaction/ransom payment. The next day, officers found a black box full of cocaine in the woods nearby. The defendant was charged with and convicted of trafficking by possession. He appealed, arguing that the State’...

In this capital murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a first-degree murder charge. The defendant argued that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that he was the perpetrator. The court noted that the State’s evidence tended...

State v. McCrary, 368 N.C. 571 (Dec. 18, 2015)

In a per curiam opinion, the supreme court affirmed the decision below, State v. McCrary, __ N.C. App. __, 764 S.E.2d 477 (2014), to the extent it affirmed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion...

State v. Cox, 367 N.C. 147 (Nov. 8, 2013)

The court reversed the decision below, State v. Cox, 222 N.C. App. 192 (2012), which had found insufficient evidence to support a conviction of felon in possession of a firearm under the corpus delicti rule. The defendant confessed to possession of a firearm recovered by officers ten to...

State v. Miles, 366 N.C. 503 (Apr. 12, 2013)

The court per curiam affirmed the decision below, State v. Miles, 222 N.C. App. 593 (Aug. 21, 2012), a murder case in which the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court of appeals held that there was...

State v. Carver, 366 N.C. 372 (Jan. 25, 2013)

The court per curiam affirmed State v. Carver, 221 N.C. App. 120 (June 5, 2012), in which the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that there was sufficient evidence that the defendant perpetrated the murder. The State’s case was entirely circumstantial. Evidence showed that at the...

State v. Sweat, 366 N.C. 79 (June 14, 2012)

The court affirmed the holding of State v. Sweat, 216 N.C. App. 321 (Oct. 18, 2011), that there was sufficient evidence of fellatio under the corpus delicti rule to support sex offense charges. The court clarified that the rule imposes different burdens on the State:

...

State v. Joe, 365 N.C. 538 (Apr. 13, 2012)

Although a trial court may grant a defendant's motion to dismiss under G.S. 15A–954 or –1227 and the State may enter an oral dismissal in open court under G.S. 15A–931, the trial court has no authority to enter an order dismissing the case on its own motion.

State v. Pastuer, 365 N.C. 287 (Oct. 7, 2011)

An equally divided court left undisturbed the court of appeals’ decision in State v. Pastuer, 205 N.C. App. 566 (July 20, 2010) (holding that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge alleging that he murdered his wife; the State’s case was based...

State v. Smith, 362 N.C. 583 (Dec. 12, 2008)

Under the corpus delecti rule, there was insufficient evidence independent of the defendant’s extrajudicial confession to sustain a conviction for first-degree sexual offense; however, there was sufficient evidence to support an indecent liberties conviction. Note: under the rule, the state may...

The defendant in this case previously appealed his convictions for possession of a firearm by a felon, trafficking in heroin, PWISD cocaine, and attaining habitual felon status. The Court of Appeals found no error in State v. Wynn, 264 N.C. App. 250 (2019) (...

The defendant was arrested for impaired driving. Because of his extreme intoxication, he was taken to a hospital for medical treatment. The defendant was belligerent and combative at the hospital, and was medicated in an effort to calm his behavior. After the defendant was medically subdued, a...

In this child sexual assault case, there was substantial independent evidence to support the trustworthiness of the defendant’s extrajudicial confession that he engaged in vaginal intercourse with the victim on at least three occasions and therefore the corpus delicti rule was satisfied. The...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of first-degree murder. On appeal the defendant argued that the State failed to introduce sufficient evidence with respect to an unlawful killing and the defendant’s identity as the perpetrator.

           ...

In this first-degree felony-murder and discharging a weapon into an occupied dwelling case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges on grounds that there was insufficient evidence establishing that the defendant was the perpetrator. Among other things...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of first-degree rape. Because the victim could not remember the incident, she was unable to testify that she had been raped or that the defendant was the perpetrator. The evidence showed that while out with friends...

In this case, involving habitual impaired driving, driving while license revoked, and reckless driving, the corpus delicti rule was satisfied. The defendant argued that no independent evidence corroborated his admission to a trooper that he was the driver of the vehicle. The court disagreed,...

State v. Blankenship, ___ N.C. App. ___, 814 S.E.2d 901 (Apr. 17, 2018) temp. stay granted, ___ N.C. ___, 812 S.E.2d 666 (May 3 2018)

In this child sexual assault case, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss charges of statutory sexual offense and indecent liberties with a child where the State failed to satisfy the corpus delecti rule. Here, the only substantive evidence was the defendant’s...

In a case involving convictions for felony breaking or entering, felony larceny, and misdemeanor injury to real property, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The property owner was the defendant’s former girlfriend, who was away at the time. The items taken...

In this possession of methamphetamine case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that her admission to an officer that she possessed “meth” in her bra was insufficient to establish the nature of the controlled substance under the corpus delicti rule. The defendant’s out-of-court statement...

In this case involving impaired and reckless driving, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State presented insufficient evidence to establish that he was driving the vehicle, in violation of the corpus delicti rule. The court found that the State presented substantial evidence to...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of armed robbery asserting that the State failed to establish the corpus delicti of the crime. Specifically, the defendant argued that the State relied solely on his uncorroborated confession, which, under the...

In this DWI case, the district court properly dismissed the charges sua sponte. After the district court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress, the State appealed to superior court, which affirmed the district court’s pretrial indication and remanded. The State then moved to...

State v. Todd, ___ N.C. App. ___, 790 S.E.2d 349 (Aug. 16, 2016) rev’d on other grounds, 369 N.C. 707 (Jun 9 2017)

Over a dissent the court held that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction for armed robbery where it consisted of a single partial fingerprint on the exterior of a backpack worn by the victim at the time of the crime and that counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to...

(1) In a case involving two perpetrators, the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss a robbery charge, predicated on the corpus delicti rule. Although the defendant’s own statements constituted the only evidence that he participated in the crime, “there [wa]s no dispute...

The State had no right to appeal the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence, made after the close of all evidence where the trial court erred by taking the defendant’s motion under advisement and failing to rule until after the jury returned its...

Where the State failed to produce substantial, independent corroborative evidence to support the facts underlying the defendant’s extrajudicial statement in violation of the corpus delicti rule, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss charges of participating in the...

Sufficient evidence supported the defendant’s armed robbery conviction where two eyewitnesses identified the defendant and an accomplice. The court was unpersuaded by the defendant’s citation of articles and cases from other states discussing the weaknesses of eyewitness identification, noting...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant perpetrated the crime of discharging a weapon into occupied property. Evidence tied a burgundy SUV to the shooting and suggested the defendant was the vehicle’s driver, the defendant fled from police and made statements to them showing “inside”...

In an impaired driving case, evidence that the defendant’s BAC was .09 was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, notwithstanding evidence that the machine may have had a margin of error of .02. The court concluded: “Defendant’s argument goes to the credibility of the State’s evidence, not...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss where the defendant’s argument went to issues of credibility.

The evidence was sufficient to sustain a juvenile’s adjudication as delinquent for driving with no operator’s license under the corpus delicti rule. The thirteen-year-old juvenile admitted that he drove the vehicle. Ample evidence, apart from this confession existed, including that the juvenile...

Where a burglary victim identified the defendant as the perpetrator in court, the rule of State v. Irick, 291 N.C. 480 (1977) (fingerprint evidence can withstand a motion for nonsuit only if there is substantial evidence that the fingerprints were impressed at the time of the crime),did...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant perpetrated the murder. The defendant’s cell phone was found next to the victim, cell phone records showed that the phone was within one mile of the murder scene around the time of the murder, the defendant gave inconsistent statements about his...

(1) The trial court erred by entering a pretrial order dismissing, under G.S. 15A-954(a)(4), murder, child abuse, and sexual assault charges against the defendant. The statute allows a trial court to dismiss charges if it finds that the defendant's constitutional rights have been flagrantly...

State v. Foye, 220 N.C. App. 37 (Apr. 17, 2012)

In an impaired driving and driving while license revoked case there was sufficient evidence other than the defendant’s extrajudicial confession to establish that the defendant was driving the vehicle. Among other things, the vehicle was registered to the defendant and the defendant was found...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant was the perpetrator of the charged offenses so that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The crimes occurred at approximately 1:00 am at the victim’s home. The intruder took a fifty-dollar bill, a change purse...

In an impaired driving case, there was sufficient evidence apart from the defendant’s extrajudicial confession to establish that he was driving the vehicle. When an officer arrived at the scene, the defendant was the only person in the vehicle and he was sitting in the driver's seat. 

State v. Patel, 217 N.C. App. 50 (Nov. 15, 2011)

In a first-degree murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss on grounds of insufficiency of the evidence where the State produced evidence of motive, opportunity, and means as well as admissions by the defendant.

In a case involving a 1972 homicide, the trial judge erred by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss due to insufficient evidence that he was the perpetrator. When the State presents only circumstantial evidence that the defendant is the perpetrator, courts look at motive, opportunity,...

The evidence was sufficient to establish that the defendant perpetrated the murder. The defendant was jealous of the victim and made numerous threats toward him; four spent casings found in his bedroom were fired from the murder weapon; on the day of the murder, the victim got into a vehicle...

The State presented sufficient evidence that the defendant perpetrated a breaking and entering. The resident saw the defendant break into her home, the getaway vehicle was registered to the defendant, the resident knew the defendant from prior interactions, a gun was taken from the home, and the...

The trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of felon in possession of a firearm on grounds that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to him. The defendant’s motion was unverified, trial court heard no evidence, and there were no clear stipulations to the...

In a robbery case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss where there was substantial evidence that the defendant was the perpetrator. The victim, who knew the defendant well, identified the defendant’s voice as that of his assailant; identified his assailant as...

There was sufficient evidence that the defendant perpetrated a murder when, among other things, cuts on the defendant’s hands were visible more than 10 days after the murder; neither the defendant’s nor the victim’s DNA could be excluded from a DNA sample from the scene; DNA from blood stains on...

In a case involving felonious breaking or entering, larceny, and possession of stolen goods, the State presented sufficient evidence identifying the defendant as the perpetrator. The evidence showed that although the defendant did not know the victim, she found his truck in her driveway with the...

Applying the corpus delicti rule (State may not rely solely on the extrajudicial confession of a defendant, but must produce substantial independent corroborative evidence) the court held that the State produced substantial independent corroborative evidence to show that a robbery and rape...

Where the State’s evidence in this murder case showed both motive and opportunity, it was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss on the issue of whether the defendant was the perpetrator.

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