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

Navigate using the table of contents to the left or by using the search box below. Use quotations for an exact phrase search. A search for multiple terms without quotations functions as an “or” search. Not sure where to start? The 5 minute video tutorial offers a guided tour of main features – Launch Tutorial (opens in new tab).

E.g., 12/08/2023
E.g., 12/08/2023

In the Philippines in 2012, crime lord Paul LeRoux believed a real-estate broker, Catherine Lee, had stolen money from him.  LeRoux hired three men to kill her: Adam Samia, Joseph Hunter, and Carl Stillwell.  Lee was later murdered, shot twice in the head.  The four men were eventually arrested...

In this murder case, the Supreme Court determined that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him was violated when the trial court admitted into evidence a transcript of another person’s plea allocution.  In 2006, a child in the Bronx was killed by a stray 9-...

In this child abuse case the Court held that statement by the victim, L.P., to his preschool teachers were non-testimonial. In the lunchroom, one of L.P.’s teachers, Ramona Whitley, observed that L.P.’s left eye was bloodshot. She asked him “[w]hat happened,” and he initially said nothing....

In a plurality opinion the Court affirmed the holding below that the defendant’s confrontation clause rights were not violated when the State’s DNA expert testified to an opinion based on a report done by a non-testifying analyst. The defendant Sandy Williams was charged with, among things,...

Hardy v. Cross, 565 U.S. 65 (Dec. 12, 2011)

Reversing the Seventh Circuit, the Court held that the state court was not unreasonable in determining that the prosecution established the victim’s unavailability for purposes of the confrontation clause. In the defendant’s state court trial for kidnaping and sexual assault, the victim...

In a straightforward application of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (June 25, 2009) (holding that forensic laboratory reports are testimonial and thus subject to Crawford), the Court held that substitute analyst testimony in an impaired driving case violated ...

Michigan v. Bryant, 562 U.S. 344 (Feb. 28, 2011)

Justice Sotomayor, writing for the Court, held that a mortally wounded shooting victim’s statements to first-responding officers were non-testimonial under Crawford. In the early morning, Detroit police officers responded to a radio dispatch that a man had been shot. When they arrived...

Certiorari was granted in this case four days after the Court decided Melendez-Diaz. The case presented the following question: If a state allows a prosecutor to introduce a certificate of a forensic laboratory analysis, without presenting the testimony of the analyst who prepared the...

Forensic laboratory reports are testimonial and thus subject to the rule of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). For a detailed analysis of this case, see the paper entitled “Melendez-Diaz & the Admissibility of Forensic Laboratory Reports & Chemical...

In this federal death penalty case, the court relied on Williams v. New York, 337 U.S. 241 (1949), to hold that the confrontation clause does not apply in the sentence selection phase (where the jury exercises discretion in selecting a life sentence or the death penalty) of a federal...

State v. Jones, 382 N.C. 267 (Aug. 19, 2022)

In this Durham County case, the Supreme Court modified and affirmed the Court of Appeals opinion denying defendant’s appeal of the revocation of his probation after a hearing. 

Defendant was placed on probation in 2015 for discharging a weapon into occupied property and possession of a...

State v. Pabon, 273 N.C.App. 645, 850 S.E.2d 512 (Oct. 6, 2020) modified and affirmed on other grounds, 2022-NCSC-16, 867 S.E.2d 632 (Feb 11 2022)

In this Cabarrus County case, the defendant was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree rape. After developing a friendship with the victim, he drugged her without her knowledge, took her to a friend’s house and raped her. The defendant appealed, raising numerous challenges.

...
State v. Bowman, 372 N.C. 439 (Aug. 16, 2019)

On appeal from a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 818 S.E.2d 718 (2018), the Supreme Court held that the trial court violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him. In this murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a...

State v. Miller, 371 N.C. 273 (June 8, 2018)

On discretionary of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 801 S.E.2d 696 (2017), in this murder case the court reversed, holding that the Court of Appeals erred by concluding that certain evidence was admitted in violation of the defendant’s confrontation rights. The...

State v. McKiver, 369 N.C. 652 (June 9, 2017)

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court held that the statements made by an anonymous 911 caller informing the police of a possible incident involving a firearm and describing the suspect were nontestimonial. The circumstances surrounding the caller’s statements objectively indicate...

(1) Melendez-Diaz did not impact the “continuing vitality” of the notice and demand statute in G.S. 90-95(g); when the State satisfies the requirements of the statute and the defendant fails to file a timely written objection, a valid waiver of the defendant’s constitutional right to...

State v. Ortiz-Zape, 367 N.C. 1 (June 27, 2013)

Reversing the Court of Appeals’ decision in an unpublished case, the court held that no confrontation clause violation occurred when an expert in forensic science testified to her opinion that the substance at issue was cocaine and that opinion was based upon the expert’s independent analysis of...

State v. Brewington, 367 N.C. 29 (June 27, 2013)

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the Court held that no Crawford violation occurred when the State proved that the substance at issue was cocaine through the use of a substitute analyst. The seized evidence was analyzed at the SBI by Assistant Supervisor in Charge Nancy Gregory. At trial...

State v. Craven, 367 N.C. 51 (June 27, 2013)

 The court held that admission of lab reports through the testimony of a substitute analyst (Agent Schell) violated the defendant’ confrontation clause rights where the testifying analyst did not give her own independent opinion, but rather gave “surrogate testimony” that merely recited the...

State v. Hurt, 367 N.C. 80 (June 27, 2013)

In a substitute analyst case, the court per curiam and for the reasons stated in Ortiz-Zape (above, under substitute analysts), reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision in State v. Hurt, 208 N.C. App. 1 (2010) (applying Crawford to a non-capital Blakely...

State v. Hurt, 367 N.C. 80 (June 27, 2013)

In a substitute analyst case, the court per curiam and for the reasons stated in Ortiz-Zape, reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision in State v. Hurt, 208 N.C. App. 1 (2010) (applying Crawford to a non-capital Blakely sentencing hearing in a murder case and...

State v. Williams, 367 N.C. 64 (June 27, 2013)

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the court held that any confrontation clause violation that occurred with regard to the use of substitute analyst testimony was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt where the defendant testified that the substance at issue was cocaine. When cocaine was discovered...

State v. Brent, 367 N.C. 73 (June 27, 2013)

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the court held that by failing to make a timely objection at trial and failing to argue plain error in the Court of Appeals, the defendant failed to preserve the question of whether substitute analyst testimony in a drug case violated his confrontation rights. The...

State v. Hough, 367 N.C. 79 (June 27, 2013)

With one Justice not taking part in the decision and the others equally divided, the court, per curiam, left undisturbed the decision below, State v. Hough, 202 N.C. App. 674 (Mar. 2, 2010). In the decision below, the Court of Appeals held that no Crawford violation occurred...

State v. Burrow, 366 N.C. 326 (Dec. 14, 2012)

The court vacated and remanded State v. Burrow, 218 N.C. App. 373 (Feb. 7, 2012), after allowing the State’s motion to amend the record to include a copy of the State’s notice under G.S. 90-95 indicating an intent to introduce into evidence a forensic report without testimony of the...

State v. Locklear, 363 N.C. 438 (Aug. 28, 2009)

A Crawford violation occurred when the trial court admitted opinion testimony of two non-testifying experts regarding a victim’s cause of death and identity. The testimony was admitted through the Chief Medical Examiner, an expert in forensic pathology, who appeared to have read the...

In this Wayne County case, defendant appealed his conviction for concealment of the death of a child who did not die of natural causes, arguing the State failed to satisfy the corpus delicti rule and error in permitting testimony that the child’s mother was convicted of second-degree...

In this Robeson County case, defendant appealed his conviction for driving while impaired, arguing the trial court erred by admitting a toxicology report without authentication and allowing the arresting officer to testify to defendant’s specific blood alcohol concentration. The Court of Appeals...

In this Edgecombe County case, defendant appealed his convictions of obtaining property by false pretenses and exploitation of a disabled or elderly person in a business relationship. The Court of Appeals found no error and affirmed defendant’s convictions. 

Defendant approached an 88-year...

State v. Bucklew, ___ N.C. App. ___, 2021-NCCOA-659 (Dec. 7, 2021) temp. stay granted, 380 N.C. 288, 866 S.E.2d 900 (Jan 12 2022)

In this Martin County case, the defendant was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, felony serious injury by vehicle and driving while impaired for his driving of a vehicle after consuming prescription medications, crossing into oncoming traffic, hitting two other...

The defendant was placed on 36 months of supervised probation after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses. The defendant’s probation officer subsequently filed a violation report alleging that the defendant had violated his probation by using...

The defendant was on supervised probation for a conviction of possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana, and the state alleged that he violated his probation by testing positive for cocaine and committing a new criminal offense. At a hearing held on the violation, the defendant’s...

State v. Chavez, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Apr. 7, 2020) rev’d in part on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 2021-NCSC-86 (Aug 13 2021)

This Mecklenburg County case involved charges of attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. The defendant and two other men (one of whom was unidentified) entered the victim’s home and...

The defendant was on felony probation. During a traffic stop, a law enforcement officer found a pistol in the defendant’s car, which resulted in criminal charges for possession of firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed weapon and the filing of a probation violation report for committing new...

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...

The defendant fired a gun from his car toward a park where over a dozen people were playing basketball and hanging out. He was later found asleep in his car in a ditch by a Highway Patrol officer, who arrested him for driving while impaired. He was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder and...

In this murder and attempted murder case, the trial court did not err in allowing a substitute expert witness to testify to another expert’s conclusions on cell site location data connected to the defendant. The defendant complained that his rights to confront the witness were violated by the...

(1) In this murder, robbery and assault case, the trial court properly found that a witness was unavailable to testify under Evidence Rule 804 and the Confrontation Clause. The witness, Montes, was arrested in connection with the crimes at issue. She cooperated with officers and gave a statement...

In this drug case, the trial court did not err by admitting a forensic laboratory report after the defendant stipulated to its admission. The defendant argued that the trial court erred by failing to engage in a colloquy with her to ensure that she personally waived her sixth amendment right to...

In this drug case, the court held—with one judge concurring in result only—that the trial court did not err by admitting evidence of the identification and weight of the controlled substances from a substitute analyst. Because Erica Lam, the forensic chemist who tested the substances was not...

In this case involving armed robbery and other charges, the victim’s statements to a responding officer were nontestimonial. When officer Rigsby arrived at the victim’s home to investigate the robbery call, the victim was shaken up, fumbling over his words, and speaking so fast that it sounded...

In this drug trafficking case, the defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights were not violated when the trial court admitted statements made by a non-testifying confidential informant. The statements were not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted but rather to explain subsequent steps...

In this drug case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court violated his Confrontation Clause rights when it permitted him to stipulate to the admission of forensic laboratory reports without first addressing him personally and ensuring that he understood the stipulation...

State v. Phachoumphone, ___ N.C. App. ___, 810 S.E.2d 748 (Feb. 6, 2018) review granted, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Sep 20 2018)

In this child sexual assault case, although the trial court violated the procedural requirements of G.S. 15A-1225.1 by authorizing the victim’s testimony to be offered remotely without holding a recorded evidentiary hearing on the matter or entering an appropriate order supporting its decision...

State v. Clonts, ___ N.C. App. ____, 802 S.E.2d 531 (June 20, 2017) aff’d per curiam, ___ N.C. ___, 813 S.E.2d 796 (Jun 8 2018)

A witness’s pretrial deposition testimony, taken in preparation of the criminal case, was clearly testimonial for purposes of the Confrontation Clause. 

State v. Clonts, ___ N.C. App. ____, 802 S.E.2d 531 (June 20, 2017) aff’d per curiam, ___ N.C. ___, 813 S.E.2d 796 (Jun 8 2018)

In a case in which there was a dissenting opinion, the court held that the trial court erred by admitting a non-testifying witness’s pretrial deposition testimony. (1) The trial court’s finding were insufficient to establish that the witness was unavailable for purposes of the Rule 804(b)(1)...

In this case involving a larceny from a country club, the Confrontation Clause was not violated when the trial court admitted evidence that the owners of the country club received an anonymous phone call providing information about the perpetrator. The trial court admitted the statement with a...

In this kidnapping and rape case, the defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when the trial court admitted, for the purposes of corroboration, statements made by deceased victims to law enforcement personnel. The statements were admitted to corroborate statements made by the victims...

In this child sexual assault case, no confrontation clause violation occurred where the victim’s statements were made for the primary purpose of obtaining a medical diagnosis. After the victim revealed the sexual conduct to his mother, he was taken for an appointment at a Children’s Advocacy...

In this driving while license revoked case, the court held that DMV records were non-testimonial. The documents at issue included a copy of the defendant’s driving record certified by the DMV Commissioner; two orders indefinitely suspending his drivers’ license; and a document attached to the...

In this homicide case where the defendant was charged with murdering his wife, the confrontation clause was not violated when the trial court allowed forensic psychologist Ginger Calloway to testify about a report she prepared in connection with a custody proceeding regarding the couple’s...

In a sex offender residential restriction case, the court held that because GPS tracking reports were non-testimonial business records, their admission did not violate the defendant’s confrontation rights. The GPS records were generated in connection with electronic monitoring of the defendant,...

Where no hearsay statements were admitted at trial, the confrontation clause was not implicated.

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that his confrontation clause rights were violated when the trial court released an out-of-state witness from subpoena. The State subpoenaed the witness from New York to testify at the trial. The witness testified at trial and the defendant had an...

The trial court did not violate the defendant’s confrontation rights by barring him from cross-examining two of the State's witnesses, Moore and Jarrell, about criminal charges pending against them in counties in different prosecutorial districts than the district in which defendant was tried....

(1) In a larceny by merchant case, statements made by a deceased Wal-Mart assistant manager to the store’s loss prevention coordinator were non-testimonial. The loss prevention coordinator was allowed to testify that the assistant manager had informed him about the loss of property, triggering...

In this drug trafficking case, notice was properly given under the G.S. 90-95(g) notice and demand statute even though it did not contain proof of service or a file stamp. The argued-for service and filing requirements were not required by Melendez-Diaz or the statute. The notice was...

In a murder case, the defendant’s right of confrontation was not violated when Dr. Jordan, an expert medical examiner, testified that in his opinion the cause of death was methadone toxicity. As part of his investigation, Jordan sent a specimen of the victim’s blood to the Office of the Chief...

In a drug case, the trial court did not err by allowing one analyst to testify to the results of an analysis done by another non-testifying analyst. The analysis at issue identified the pills as oxycodone. The defendant did not object to the analyst’s testimony at trial or to admission of the...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State’s failure to comply with the requirements of the G.S. 90-95 notice and demand statute with respect to the analyst’s report created error. In addition to failing to object to admission of the report, both the defendant and defense counsel...

No violation of the defendant’s confrontation rights occurred when the trial court admitted an unavailable witness’s testimony at a proceeding in connection with the defendant’s Alford plea under the Rule 804(b)(1) hearsay exception for former testimony. The witness was unavailable and...

In a case in which the defendant was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses for selling products alleged to be gluten free but which in fact contained gluten, the trial court did not err by allowing an ill witness to testify by way of a two-way, live, closed-circuit web broadcast....

No violation of the defendant’s confrontation rights occurred when an officer testified to statements made to him by others where the statements were not introduced for their truth but rather to show the course of the investigation, specifically why officers searched a location for evidence.

The trial court did not err by allowing a child victim to testify out of the defendant’s presence by way of a closed circuit television. Following State v. Jackson, 216 N.C. App. 238 (Oct. 4, 2011) (in a child sexual assault case, the defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated...

(1) Admission of a forensic report identifying a substance as a controlled substance without testimony of the preparer violated the defendant’s confrontation clause rights. (2) The trial court erred by allowing a substitute analyst to testify that a substance was a controlled substance based on...

The defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when an officer testified to the victim’s statements made to him at the scene through the use of a telephonic translation service. The defendant argued that his confrontation rights were violated when the interpreter’s statements were...

(1) The defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when the State’s expert testified about DNA testing on the victim’s rape kit done by a non-testifying trainee. The trainee worked under the testifying expert’s direct observation and supervision and the findings were his own. (2) The...

A SBI forensic report identifying a substance as cocaine was properly admitted when the State gave notice under the G.S. 90-95(g) notice and demand statute and the defendant lodged no objection to admission of the report without the testimony of the preparer.

State v. Glenn, 220 N.C. App. 23 (Apr. 17, 2012)

A non-testifying victim’s statement to a law enforcement officer was testimonial. In the defendant’s trial for kidnapping and other charges, the State introduced statements from a different victim (“the declarant”) who was deceased at the time of trial. The facts surrounding the declarant’s...

The trial court properly applied the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to the Crawford rule. At the defendant’s trial for first-degree murder and kidnapping, an eyewitness named Wilson was excused from testifying further after becoming distraught on the stand. The trial court...

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that his constitutional right to confront witnesses against him was violated when the trial court refused to permit defense counsel to cross examine the defendant’s accomplices about conversations they had with their attorneys regarding charge...

State v. Ross, 216 N.C. App. 337 (Oct. 18, 2011)

Defense counsel’s cross-examination of a declarant at a probable cause hearing satisfied Crawford’s requirement of a prior opportunity for cross-examination. 

State v. Ross, 216 N.C. App. 337 (Oct. 18, 2011)

Because evidence admitted for purposes of corroboration is not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted, Crawford does not apply to such evidence.

 

(1) In a child sexual assault case, the defendant’s confrontation rights were not violated when the trial court permitted the child victim to testify by way of a one-way closed circuit television system. The court held that Maryland v. Craig survived Crawford and that the...

Because the statements at issue were not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted and therefore were not hearsay, their admission did not implicate the confrontation clause. The statements at issue included statements of an officer during an interrogation of the defendant. In his statements...

Assuming arguendo that the defendant properly preserved the issue for appeal, no confrontation clause violation occurred when the State’s expert forensic pathologist, Dr. Deborah Radisch, testified about the victim’s autopsy and gave her own opinion concerning cause of death. Distinguishing ...

(1) In a triple murder case, no confrontation clause violation occurred when the State’s expert medical examiner was allowed to testify in place of the pathologist who performed the autopsies. The medical examiner provided her own expert opinion and did not simply regurgitate the non-testifying...

Holding, in a drug case, that although the trial court erred by allowing the State’s expert witness to testify as to the identity and weight of the “leafy green plant substance” where the expert’s testimony was based on analysis performed by a non-testifying forensic analyst, the error was not...

The trial court did not err by allowing the Chief Medical Examiner to testify regarding an autopsy of a murder victim when the Medical Examiner was one of three individuals who participated in the actual autopsy. The Medical Examiner testified to his own observations, provided information...

The court ordered a new trial in a drug case in which the trial court admitted laboratory reports regarding the identity, nature, and quantity of the controlled substances where the State had not complied with the notice and demand provisions in G.S. 90-95(g) and (g1). Instead of sending notice...

Even if the defendant’s confrontation clause rights were violated when the trial court allowed a substitute analyst to testify regarding DNA testing done by a non-testifying analyst, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

Applying Locklear and Mobley, both discussed above, the court concluded that testimony of a substitute analyst identifying a substance as cocaine base violated the defendant’s confrontation clause rights. The court characterized the substitute analyst’s testimony as “merely...

Statements of a non-testifying informant to a police officer were non-testimonial when offered not for the truth of the matter asserted but rather to explain the officer’s actions in the course of the investigation.

The court upheld the constitutionality of G.S. 90-95(g)’s notice and demand statute for forensic laboratory reports in drug cases. Since the defendant failed to object after the State gave notice of its intent to introduce the report without the presence of the analyst, the defendant waived his...

No Crawford violation occurred when a substitute analyst testified to her own expert opinion, formed after reviewing data and reports prepared by non-testifying expert. For a more detailed discussion of this case, see my blog post...

A Crawford violation occurred when the State’s expert gave an opinion, in a drug trafficking case, as to the weight of the cocaine at issue, based “solely” on a laboratory report by a non-testifying analyst. For a more detailed discussion of this case, see my...

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