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.

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E.g., 06/28/2024
E.g., 06/28/2024

In this Durham County case, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals majority decision upholding defendant’s voluntary manslaughter conviction. 

In December of 2016, defendant was driving out of his neighborhood when he was followed by the victim. Defendant was familiar with the...

During cross-examination of the complaining witness in a case involving a charge of assault on a female, the defendant began a line of questions to which the State objected. The trial judge excused the jury and conducted a voir dire, during which the defendant’s counsel demonstrated the proposed...

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...

In this capital case, the trial court did not err by allowing the State to elicit testimony that defense counsel had previously hired the State’s expert to testify on behalf of another client. The defendant argued that this allowed the State to improperly vouch for its expert’s credibility. The...

State v. Lewis, 365 N.C. 488 (Apr. 13, 2012)

The trial court abused its discretion by excluding, at a retrial, evidence of remarks that the lead investigator, Detective Roberts, made to a juror at the defendant’s first trial. After the defendant’s conviction, he filed a motion for appropriate relief (MAR) alleging that his trial had been...

State v. Waring, 364 N.C. 443 (Nov. 5, 2010)

(1) In the guilt phase of a capital trial, the trial court did not err by limiting the defendant’s re-cross-examination of law enforcement officers about whether an alleged accomplice cooperated with the police. The defendant failed to establish how the accomplice’s cooperation was relevant to...

In this Pitt County case, defendant appealed his convictions for statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult, sexual act by a substitute parent or custodian, and indecent liberties with a child, arguing plain error in admitting a detective’s testimony that she could not interview defendant...

In this Davidson County case, defendant appealed his convictions for two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, arguing error in (1) denying his motion for new counsel because his appointed attorney was blind, (2) failing to intervene ex mero motu during his cross examination, and (...

In this Guilford County case, defendant appealed his convictions for felony cocaine possession and misdemeanor marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession, arguing error in the denial of his motion to suppress testimony obtained in violation of his Miranda rights and limitation of his...

The defendant was convicted of two counts of sexual offense with a child by an adult, rape of a child, first-degree kidnapping, and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child in Wake County, stemming from the assault of a six-year-old child at a church.

(1) In regard to one of...

The defendant was indicted for attempted first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, and other offenses. The State alleged that the defendant shot a man and his wife, Bruce and Joanne Parker, as they were getting into their...

State v. Graham, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Mar. 17, 2020) aff'd on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 2021-NCSC-125 (Oct 29 2021)

The defendant was charged with four counts of engaging in sexual acts against a child under 13 and taking indecent liberties with a child. The defendant was alleged to have touched a child, A.M.D., in sexual manner on several occasions over a period of one to two years. The state’s...

The basic facts of this case are as follows: Marvin Price closed his account at the Mountain Credit Union, withdrawing $25,000 in cash. He put $300 to $400 in his wallet and the remainder in an envelope. When he arrived home and got out of his car, he was robbed at gunpoint by Michael Angram,...

In this child sexual assault case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the defendant’s request to present a rebuttal witness. Because the trial court permitted other testimony that established the same facts that the defendant sought from the rebuttal witness, the defendant...

In this embezzlement case, the trial court did not commit plain error by allowing a detective to testify regarding the defendant’s post-arrest silence. The defendant opened the door to the testimony by pursuing a line of inquiry on cross-examination centering around the detective’s attempts to...

State v. Crump, ___ N.C. App. ___, 815 S.E.2d 415 (Apr. 17, 2018) rev’d on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Dec 18 2020)

In a case involving charges of assault on a law enforcement officer, the trial court did not err by allowing the State to present evidence that an internal police department investigation of the involved officers resulted in no disciplinary actions or demotions. The defendant asserted that this...

In this murder case, the trial court did not err by admitting a witness’s prior statement to the police to corroborate his in-court testimony. According to the defendant, the prior statement added “critical facts” that were not otherwise shown by the evidence. The court found that many of the...

In this homicide case, the trial court did not err by allowing the State to question the defendant’s expert witness on automatism regarding the amount of fees he received for testifying in other, unrelated criminal cases. The challenged evidence was relevant to “test partiality towards the party...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by sustaining the State’s objection to the introduction of an unauthenticated screenshot to impeach the victim’s credibility. Although it was permissible for counsel to ask the defendant questions about the screenshot, he could not impeach the victim’...

In this child sexual assault case, the trial court erred by excluding evidence which tended to show the victim’s mother’s bias against the defendant. After concluding that the defendant failed to preserve his challenges with respect to three pieces of impeachment evidence, the court concluded...

The trial court did not err by allowing the introduction of a video recording of the State’s witness being interviewed by law enforcement to corroborate the officer’s prior testimony about the interview.

In this impaired driving second-degree murder case, the trial court did not err by preventing the defendant from cross-examining witness Cooke regarding the contents of a verified complaint that Cooke had filed against the defendant and the estate of the deceased victim on behalf of himself and...

In this child sexual assault case, even if the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s request to admit into evidence three letters to the editor written by the State’s expert witness and published in a newspaper 10 years before the expert’s interview with the child in question, the error...

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...

Because the defendant’s self-serving, exculpatory statement was separate and apart from inculpatory statements he made on other days and that were admitted at trial, the State did not open the door for its admission. 

The trial court erred by preventing the defendant from making any inquiry into the compensation paid to the State’s expert witness. “The source and amount of a fee paid to an expert witness is a permissible topic for cross-examination, as it allows the opposing party to probe the witnesses’...

(1) The trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting a recording of a witness’s interview with the police for corroboration and impeachment. The witness in question testified for the State. Although much of her testimony was consistent with her earlier interview, it diverged in some...

(1) The trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting a recording of a witness’s interview with the police for corroboration and impeachment. The witness in question testified for the State. Although much of her testimony was consistent with her earlier interview, it diverged in some...

In a case where the defendant was charged with assaulting a court security officer, no error occurred when the State was allowed to cross-examine the defendant about another criminal proceeding in which he was the prosecuting witness and that he referenced in his direct examination. On direct,...

In this robbery case, the court held that no plain error occurred when the trial court admitted into evidence for purposes of corroboration a videotape of an interview with the defendant’s accomplice, when the accomplice testified at trial. The defendant asserted that the accomplice’s statements...

In a murder case, the trial court did not err by admitting testimony concerning nine-millimeter ammunition and a gun found at the defendant’s house. Evidence concerning the ammunition was relevant because it tended to link the defendant to the scene of the crime, where eleven shell casings of...

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to admit, for purposes of corroboration, a prior consistent statement made by a State’s witness. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the prior statement differed significantly from the witness’s trial testimony. 

The trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to impeach its own witness where the impeachment was not mere subterfuge to introduce otherwise inadmissible evidence. The court held that it need not decide whether the record showed that the State was genuinely surprised by the...

In a felony assault and robbery case, no plain error occurred when the trial court ruled that the defendant could not question the victim about an unrelated first-degree murder charge pending against him in another county at the time of trial. Normally it is error for a trial court to bar a...

In a felony assault and robbery case, no plain error occurred when the trial court ruled that the defendant could not question the victim about an unrelated first-degree murder charge pending against him in another county at the time of trial. Normally it is error for a trial court to bar a...

No plain error occurred when the trial court admitted the child victim’s prior statements to corroborate her trial testimony. Any differences between the statements and the victim’s trial testimony were “minor inconsistencies.”

In this child sexual abuse case, the trial court did not err by allowing the State to ask a DSS social worker about a 2009 DSS petition alleging that the victim was neglected, sexually abused and dependent where the defendant opened the door to this testimony. Before the witness testified, the...

(1) In this child sexual abuse case, the trial court did not err by allowing an emergency room doctor who examined one of the children to testify to the child’s credibility where the defendant elicited this evidence during his own cross-examination. (2) The trial court did not err by allowing...

In this child sexual abuse case, the trial court did not impermissibly allow the State to use extrinsic evidence to impeach the defendant on a collateral matter. On cross-examination, the defendant denied that she had told anyone that the victim began masturbating at an early age, given the...

In a child sexual assault case in which the victim was the defendant’s son, the trial court erred by allowing the State to cross-examine the defendant with questions summarizing the results of a psychological evaluation, not admitted into evidence, that described the defendant as a psychopathic...

In a child sexual assault case in which the victim was the defendant’s son, the trial court erred by allowing the State to cross-examine the defendant with questions summarizing the results of a psychological evaluation, not admitted into evidence, that described the defendant as a psychopathic...

In a murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to impeach two witnesses with their prior inconsistent statements to the police. Both witnesses testified that they were at the scene but did not see the defendant. The State then impeached them with their prior...

The court rejected the State’s argument that the defendant opened the door to admission of otherwise inadmissible hearsay evidence (a 911 call). Reversed and remanded for a new trial.

State v. Ellison, 213 N.C. App. 300 (July 19, 2011) aff'd on other grounds, 366 N.C. 439 ()

In a drug trafficking case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State’s witness to identify the substance as an opium derivative on rebuttal. Under G.S. 15A-1226, a trial judge may, in his or her discretion, permit a party to introduce additional evidence prior to the...

State v. Brown, 211 N.C. App. 427 (May. 3, 2011) aff’d, 365 N.C. 465 (Mar 9 2012)

In a case in which the defendant was charged with sexually assaulting his minor child, the court held that no plain error occurred when the trial judge admitted the victim’s prior statements that at the time in question the defendant sexually assaulted both her and her sister. The victim...

Any error in connection with the admission of statements elicited from a witness on cross-examination was invited. The defendant, having invited error, waived all right to appellate review, including plain error review.

Because the witness admitted having made a prior statement to the police, it was not error to allow the State to impeach her with the prior inconsistent statement when she claimed not to remember what she had said and the trial court gave a limiting instruction. The court distinguished the case...

A witness’s written statement, admitted to corroborate his trial testimony, was not hearsay. The statement was generally consistent with the witness’s trial testimony. Any points of difference were slight, only affecting credibility, or permissible because they added new or additional...

Although some portion of a videotape of the defendant’s interrogation was inadmissible, the defendant opened the door to the evidence by, among other things, referencing the content of the interview in his own testimony.

The defendant could not complain of the victim’s hearsay statements related by an expert witness in the area of child mental health when the defendant elicited these statements on cross-examination.

The trial court did not err by admitting a witness’s out of court statements. When a State’s witness gave trial testimony inconsistent with his prior statements to the police, the State cross-examined him regarding his prior statements. After the witness denied making the statements, the trial...

The trial court did not err by admitting a witness’s out of court statements. When a State’s witness gave trial testimony inconsistent with his prior statements to the police, the State cross-examined him regarding his prior statements. After the witness denied making the statements, the trial...

The trial court did not err by admitting a witness’s out of court statements. When a State’s witness gave trial testimony inconsistent with his prior statements to the police, the State cross-examined him regarding his prior statements. After the witness denied making the statements, the trial...

The defendant opened the door to the State’s cross-examination of a defense expert regarding prior offenses. On direct examination, the defendant’s psychiatric expert reviewed the defendant’s history of mental illness, including mention of his time in prison in 1996 for robbery. Defense counsel...

The State properly impeached the defendant with prior inconsistent statements. In this murder case, the defendant claimed that the child victim drowned in a bathtub while the defendant met with a drug dealer. Although the defendant gave statements prior to trial, he never mentioned that meeting...

Because the State did not offer a portion of a co-defendant’s inadmissible hearsay statement into evidence, it did not open the door to admission of the statement. The only evidence in the State’s case pertaining to the statement was an officer’s testimony recounting the defendant’s response...

In a sexual exploitation of a minor and indecent liberties case, the defendant opened the door to admission of hearsay statements by the child victim and her babysitter.

A witness’s out-of-court statement to an officer was properly admitted to corroborate her trial testimony. Although the witness’s out-of-court statement contained information not included in her in-court testimony, the out-of-court statement was generally consistent with her trial testimony and...

State v. Horton, 200 N.C. App. 74 (Sept. 15, 2009)

In a child sexual assault case, prior statements of the victim made to an expert witness regarding “grooming” techniques employed by the defendant were properly admitted to corroborate the victim’s trial testimony. Although the prior statements provided new or additional information, they tended...

Once a witness denies having made a prior inconsistent statement, a party may not introduce the prior statement in an attempt to discredit the witness because the prior statement concerns only a collateral matter, i.e., whether the statement was ever made. Here, the defendant cross-examined a...

Officer’s testimony relating an incident of digital penetration described to him by the victim was properly admitted to corroborate victim’s testimony, even though the victim did not mention the incident in her testimony. The victim testified that the first time she remembered the defendant...

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