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., 10/26/2021
E.g., 10/26/2021

The defendant was convicted of and sentenced to death for killing his wife, who had filed for divorce, his two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother, with whom the victims were staying. Before trial, the defendant filed a motion arguing that Kansas’ law on insanity violated the Due...

In 2018, the defendant was charged with felony breaking or entering a motor vehicle and other crimes for an incident involving the theft of several items from a car. Before trial, the defendant gave notice of her intent to raise a defense of voluntary intoxication. The trial court denied...

In this felony murder case based on the underlying felony of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, the trial court erred by not instructing the jury on self-defense and the doctrine of transferred intent.  The evidence at trial showed that the defendant and...

The defendant was indicted for attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and possession of a firearm by a felon. On June 7, 2016, the defendant was sitting outside of a neighbor’s house with a group of friends when the defendant’s...

The defendant was charged with solicitation of a child by computer under G.S. 14-202.3 after he responded to a Craigslist personal advertisement posted by a police detective posing as a 15-year-old. At trial the defendant requested a jury instruction on the defense of entrapment, which the...

Confronting a question of first impression, the court held that “in narrow and extraordinary circumstances” the common law defense of justification may be an affirmative defense to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon under G.S. 14-415.1.  Noting that justification is an affirmative...

In a 5-to-1 decision, the Court affirmed the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 500 (2018) (unpublished), finding that the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense or imperfect self-defense in the stabbing death of...

On writ of certiorari from a divided decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 811 S.E.2d 215 (2018), the court held that the trial court’s decision to include an “aggressor” instruction in its self-defense instructions did not constitute plain error. The trial court, without any...

State v. Bass, 371 N.C. 535 (Oct. 26, 2018)

On appeal from a decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 802 S.E.2d 477 (2017), the court affirmed, holding that the trial court committed prejudicial error by omitting stand-your-ground language from the self-defense jury instructions. The incident in question...

State v. Curtis, 371 N.C. 355 (Aug. 17, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous, unpublished decision below, the court reversed, ruling on the “Turner issue” presented in this case and holding that the misdemeanor DWI prosecution was not barred by the two-year statute of limitations in G.S. 15-1. On 1 August 2012, the...

State v. Lee, 370 N.C. 671 (Apr. 6, 2018)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 789 S.E.2d 679 (2016), the court reversed because of errors in the jury instructions on self-defense. At trial, the parties agreed to the delivery of N.C.P.I.–Crim. 206.10, the pattern instruction on...

State v. Cook, 370 N.C. 506 (Mar. 2, 2018)

The court per curiam affirmed a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, ___ N.C. App. ___, 802 S.E.2d 575 (2017). In this assault on a law enforcement officer case, the court of appeals held, over a dissent, that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a self-defense...

Reversing the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court held that the trial court’s self-defense instructions were not erroneous. The court began by considering whether “North Carolina law allows an aggressor to regain the right to utilize defensive force based upon the nature and extent of the...

State v. Juarez, 369 N.C. 351 (Dec. 21, 2016)

(1) Reversing the Court of Appeals in this first-degree felony murder case, the court held that the trial court did not commit reversible error by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. The underlying felony for first-...

State v. Monroe, 367 N.C. 771 (Jan. 23, 2015)

The court affirmed the decision below in State v. Monroe, 233 N.C. App. 563 (April 15, 2014) (holding, over a dissent, that even assuming arguendo that the rationale in United States v. Deleveaux, 205 F.3d 1292 (11th Cir. 2000), applies in North Carolina, the trial court did...

State v. Cruz, 364 N.C. 417 (Oct. 8, 2010) aff’d per curiam, 203 N.C. App. 230 (Apr 6 2010)

The court affirmed per curiam State v. Cruz, 203 N.C. App. 230 (Apr. 6, 2010) (holding, in a murder case, and over a dissenting opinion, that an instruction on self-defense was not required where there was no evidence that the defendant believed it was necessary to kill the victim in...

State v. Moore, 363 N.C. 793 (Jan. 29, 2010)

The trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense and defense of a family member. Viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant, the evidence showed that the defendant was at his produce stand; the victim was a 16-year-old male, approximately 6 feet tall and 180 pounds...

In this first-degree murder case, the trial court properly declined to resolve the defendant’s castle doctrine defense before trial, properly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and properly instructed the jury on the elements of the castle doctrine.

The defendant argued that the...

The defendant’s wife, Mrs. Arnett, came home from work on November 21 and found the defendant drinking. They got in the defendant’s car and drove to grocery store, during which the defendant struck her, threatened her, and took her cellphone. Mrs. Arnett went inside the store and asked the...

In this case where the defendant and his neighbor exchanged gunfire after an argument about the victim’s dogs killing the defendant’s cat, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on self-defense.  In the light most favorable to the defendant, the...

In this assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury case, the trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on the defendant’s requested instruction on the defense of habitation. The victim was riding on his ATV when the defendant attacked him from behind and stabbed...

The defendant was convicted after a jury trial of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and other serious felony charges after he shot and killed his former girlfriend and then pistol-whipped and fired a gun at another woman, a registered nurse. The court rejected the...

The defendant shot and killed a police officer while the officer was approaching the defendant’s car to serve arrest warrants on him in Robeson County. The defendant claimed that he had been the victim of several recent attempted murders and was “on edge,” so that when he saw the plainclothes...

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court did not err by refusing the defendant’s request to instruct the jury on the affirmative defense of entrapment.  The trial court did err, however, by entering a civil judgment against the defendant for attorney’s fees without first giving the...

Defendants Molly Martens Corbett (“Molly”) and Thomas Michael Martens (“Tom”), daughter and father, were convicted of second degree murder in the death of Molly’s husband, Jason Corbett (“Jason”). Evidence at trial established that Tom attempted to stop Jason from choking Molly by hitting Jason...

A code enforcement officer (“Wayman”), accompanied by police officers, was at a property owned by the defendant to execute an administrative warrant for the removal of nuisance building materials. While they were standing on the street in front of the property, the defendant drove up in...

The defendant was indicted for possession of a firearm—specifically, “a New England Firearms Pardner Model 12 Gauge Shotgun”—by a person previously convicted of a felon. The defendant initially told officers, who were investigating a report of a domestic dispute at the defendant’s home, that he...

State v. Stevens, ___ N.C. App. ___, 831 S.E.2d 364 (July 2, 2019) temp. stay granted, ___ N.C. ___, 829 S.E.2d 907 (Aug 1 2019)

Defendant was charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle by citation on December 24, 2013. On December 21, 2015, the state filed a misdemeanor statement of charges alleging the same offenses. While those charges were pending in district court, the grand jury issued a...

In this assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury case, the trial court properly instructed the jury regarding self-defense.  The defendant was in a physical altercation with another woman, during which she cut the other woman a number of times with a knife.  “Recognizing that a...

State v. Copley, ___ N.C. App. ___, 828 S.E.2d 35 (May. 7, 2019) rev’d on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Apr 3 2020)

In this first-degree murder case involving a shooting outside of the defendant’s home where the Court of Appeals opinion was reversed on other grounds, the court noted an error in the trial court’s jury instructions with respect to defense of habitation. Noting a problem in the current pattern...

In this assault case, the trial court committed prejudicial error by failing to instruct the jury on self-defense. Aubrey Chapman and his friend Alan McGill attended a party. During the party, the defendant punched McGill in the face. Chapman saw the confrontation and hit the defendant. Security...

In a case where the defendant was found guilty of second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, the trial court committed prejudicial error by failing to include no duty to retreat and stand your ground provisions in the jury instruction...

Although the trial court properly gave a self-defense instruction in this shooting into an occupied vehicle and injury to personal property case, it erred by failing to give a no duty to retreat instruction. Viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant, the evidence showed that the...

In this assault case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the charges due to the insufficiency of the evidence. The defendant asserted that the State’s own evidence showed that the defendant acted in self-defense after he was...

In this voluntary manslaughter case, the trial court committed prejudicial error by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on defense of habitation. The trial court denied the defendant’s requested instruction, finding no evidence that the victim was “trying to break in.”...

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)

No prejudicial error occurred with respect to the trial court’s self-defense instructions. With respect to an assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill charge, the defendant raised the statutory justifications of protection of his motor vehicle and self-defense. The trial court found that...

Where there was evidence that the defendant was the aggressor, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury on the aggressor doctrine as it relates to self-defense. The court noted that based on the defendant’s own testimony regarding the incident, it was possible for the jury to infer...

In this DWI case, the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on the defense of necessity. The defendant was arrested for DWI while driving a golf cart. The evidence showed that the defendant and his wife used the golf cart on paths connecting their home to a local bar, that he drove...

In a case where the defendant was charged with attempted murder and assault, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury that the defendant could not receive the benefit of self-defense if he was the aggressor. The incident in question involved a shooting; the defendant argued that he...

In a case where the defendant was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on the theory that he committed an unlawful act which proximately caused the victim’s death, the trial court committed reversible error by refusing to give a jury instruction on defense of others as an affirmative defense...

In a case where the trial court made a pretrial determination of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI), the defendant’s constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated when the trial court allowed defense counsel to pursue a pretrial insanity defense against her wishes....

The trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on duress as a defense to a charge of first-degree murder on the basis of premeditation and deliberation. Duress is not a defense to such a charge.

In this murder case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court should have granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss because the State failed to present substantial evidence that the defendant did not act in self-defense. Ample evidence contradicted the defendant’s claim...

In this felony-murder case where the underlying felony was discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, the trial court did not err by declining to instruct on self-defense. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that a reasonable jury could have found that the shooting constituted...

In this arson case, the evidence was not sufficient to entitle the defendant to a voluntary intoxication instruction. While the evidence showed that the defendant was intoxicated at the time in question, there was no evidence about how much alcohol she had consumed or about the length of time...

In a case involving attempted murder and other charges, the defendant was not entitled to a jury instruction on the defense of accident. The defendant testified that his gun discharged accidentally during the fight with the victim. The evidence, however, even considered in the light most...

In this attempted felony breaking or entering and habitual felon case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to instruct the jury on duress. To be entitled to an instruction on duress, a defendant must present evidence that he feared he would suffer immediate death or...

In this assault with a deadly weapon case involving two neighbors, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for an instruction on self-defense. The defendant provoked the confrontation by willingly and voluntarily leaving his property and entering the victim’s property with...

Where the trial court submitted an instruction on automatism as a defense to a charge of felony child abuse, it was not required to instruct the jury on lesser included child abuse offenses. Automatism is a complete defense to a criminal charge and did not render any of the elements of felonious...

Based on the victim’s testimony that the alleged incident occurred in his bedroom, there was sufficient evidence that the charged offense, crime against nature, occurred in the state of North Carolina.

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a diminished capacity instruction with respect to a charge of discharging a firearm into occupied property that served as a felony for purposes of a felony-murder conviction. Because discharging a firearm into occupied property...

The trial court did not commit plain error when it instructed the jury on attempted first-degree murder but failed to instruct on imperfect self-defense and on attempted voluntary manslaughter. In light of the fact that “the State introduced abundant testimony supporting a finding of defendant’s...

The trial court did not err by denying defendant’s request for an instruction on duress or necessity as a defense to possession of a firearm by a felon. On appeal, defendant urged the court to adopt the reasoning of United States v. Deleveaux, 205 F.3d 1292 (11th Cir. 2000), an opinion...

In this homicide case in which defendant was found guilty of second-degree murder, the trial court did not err by denying defendant’s request to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter based on imperfect self-defense. The trial court instructed the jury on first-degree murder, second-degree...

In this assault and second-degree murder case, the trial court did not err by refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense and by omitting an instruction on voluntary manslaughter. The court noted that the defendant himself testified that when he fired the gun he did not intend to shoot anyone...

In this drug case, the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s request for an instruction on entrapment. The court agreed with the defendant that the plan to sell the pills originated in the mind of the defendant’s friend Eudy, who was acting as an agent for law enforcement, and the...

The trial court erred by instructing pursuant to G.S. 14-51.4 (justification for defensive force not available) where the statute, enacted in 2011, did not apply to the 2006 incident in question.

In a child sexual assault case, the trial court did not err by failing to instruct the jury on the defense of accident as requested by the defendant. The defendant, who assisted high school sports teams, was charged with sexual offense and indecent liberties with students in connection with...

(1) In a delivery of cocaine case where the defendant presented sufficient evidence of the essential elements of entrapment, the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on that defense. The defendant’s evidence showed that an undercover officer tricked the defendant into believing...

(1) In an involuntary manslaughter case where a death occurred during a high speed chase by a bail bondsman in his efforts to arrest a principal, the trial court did not err by instructing the jury that bail bondsmen cannot violate motor vehicle laws in order to make an arrest. While the statute...

In this murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to instruct the jury on self-defense and imperfect self-defense. The defendant never testified that he thought it was necessary or reasonably necessary to kill his wife, the victim, to protect himself from death...

The trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury on self-defense with respect to a charge of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. The trial court instructed the jury regarding self-defense in its instructions for attempted first-degree murder and assault. For...

State v. Lalinde, 231 N.C. App. 308 (Dec. 3, 2013) review granted, 367 N.C. 503 (Jun 11 2014)

Where the evidence showed that part of a child abduction occurred in North Carolina jurisdiction was established and no jury instruction on jurisdiction was required. The defendant took the child from North Carolina to Florida. The court noted that jurisdiction over interstate criminal cases is...

In this murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for jury instructions on self-defense and voluntary manslaughter. The defendant’s theory was that the gun went off accidentally. Additionally, there was no evidence that the defendant in fact formed a belief that...

(1) The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss homicide charges. The defendant argued that the evidence showed perfect self-defense. Noting that there was some evidence favorable to the defendant as to each of the elements of perfect self-defense, the court...

(1) The trial court did not err by failing to include self-defense in its mandate on felony-murder charges that were based on the underlying offenses of attempted robbery. Self-defense is only relevant to felony-murder if it is a defense to the underlying felony. The court continued: “We fail to...

In a drug trafficking case where the record failed to indicate that law enforcement officers utilized acts of persuasion, trickery or fraud to induce the defendant to commit a crime, or that the criminal design originated in the minds of law enforcement rather than with the defendant, the trial...

The trial court committed plain error by instructing the jury that the defendant was not entitled to the benefit of self-defense if she was the aggressor when no evidence suggested that the defendant was the aggressor.

The trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct on defense of others. The defendant’s statement that he was defending himself, his vehicle and his wife was not evidence from which the jury could find that the defendant reasonably believed a third person was in immediate peril...

The trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct on perfect or imperfect self-defense or perfect or imperfect defense of others where no evidence supported those instructions. 

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for an entrapment instruction where no credible evidence suggested that he would not have committed the crime except for law enforcement’s persuasion, trickery or fraud or that the crime was the creative production of law enforcement...

In an assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury case where the weapon was not a deadly weapon per se, the trial court did not err by declining to give self-defense instruction N.C.P.I.—Crim. 308.40 and did not commit plain error by declining to give self-defense...

Although the defendant met his burden of production with respect to diminished capacity in this murder and assault case in which the defendant stuck various persons with a vehicle, the State introduced sufficient evidence of specific intent to kill. The State did not present expert witnesses....

The trial court did not commit plain error by instructing the jury that the defendant had the burden of persuasion to prove the defense of automatism. Automatism is an affirmative defense, and the burden is on the defendant to prove its existence to the jury.

In a drug trafficking case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on entrapment. After an individual named Shaw repeatedly called the defendant asking for cocaine, the defendant told Shaw he would “call a guy.” The defendant called a third person...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for an instruction on the defense of entrapment by estoppel. The defendant was charged with violating G.S. 14-454.1(a)(2) (unlawful to “willfully . . . access or cause to be accessed any government computer for the purpose of . . . [...

In an impaired driving case, the trial court did not err by declining to instruct on automatism or unconsciousness. The defendant asserted that even though unconsciousness through voluntary consumption of alcohol or drugs does not support an instruction as to automatism or unconsciousness, his...

Although the State presented evidence that the defendant smoked crack, there was no evidence regarding the crack cocaine’s effect on the defendant’s mental state and thus the trial court did not commit plain error in failing to instruct the jury on the defense of voluntary intoxication.

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that he could not be convicted of aiding and abetting a sexual offense and child abuse by sexual act on grounds that the person who committed the acts—his son—was under duress from the defendant. Even if the son was under duress, his acts were still...

In a murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on diminished capacity. The defendant had argued that he was entitled to the instruction based on evidence that he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, alcohol dependence, and...

The trial court did not err by refusing to instruct on voluntary intoxication. Some evidence showed that the defendant had drunk two beers and "could feel it," had taken Xanax, and may have smoked crack cocaine. However, the defendant herself said she was not drunk and had not smoked crack. The...

No plain error occurred when the trial judge instructed the jury on insanity using N.C.P.I.—Crim. 304.10. The defendant had argued that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that the insanity defense applies if a defendant believed, due to mental illness, that his conduct was...

State v. Pope, 213 N.C. App. 413 (July 19, 2011)

The trial court erred by dismissing larceny by employee charges based on the theory of entrapment by estoppel. The defendant, a public works supervisor, was accused of selling “white goods” and retaining the proceeds. The court concluded that while officials testified that they were aware that...

The trial court committed plain error by charging the jury with a self-defense instruction that related to assaults not involving deadly force (N.C.P.I.—Crim. 308.40) when the defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. The court...

The statute of limitations applicable to misdemeanor offenses does not apply when the issue of a defendant’s guilt of a misdemeanor offense is submitted to the jury as a lesser included offense of a properly charged felony. Applying this rule, the court held that the two-year misdemeanor statute...

Because the defendant failed to present evidence of intoxication to the degree required to show that he was incapable of forming the requisite intent to commit attempted statutory rape and indecent liberties, the trial court did not commit plain error by failing to instruct the jury on voluntary...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to instruct the jury on the defense of withdrawal where the evidence showed that the defendant completed his assigned task in the home invasion (kicking in the door) and failed to renounce the common purpose or indicate that he did...

In a murder case, the trial court did not err by declining to instruct on self-defense where there was no evidence that would support a finding that the defendant reasonably believed that he needed to use deadly force against the victim to prevent death or serious bodily injury. Although the...

The trial court did not commit plain error by instructing the jury that a defendant acting in self-defense is guilty of voluntary manslaughter if he was the aggressor, where there was sufficient evidence suggesting that the defendant was indeed the aggressor. Although the trial court erred by...

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of second-degree murder based on the defendant’s contention that he acted in self-defense where the evidence was sufficient to establish that rather than acting in self-defense, the defendant went armed after the...

No error, much less plain error, occurred when the trial judge gave a self defense instruction based on NCPJI – Crim. 308.45. Although the court found the wording of the pattern instruction confusing as to burden of proof on self defense, it concluded that the trial court properly edited the...

Reversing and remanding for a new trial where, despite the fact that there was no evidence that the defendant was the aggressor, the trial judge instructed the jury that in order to receive the benefit of self-defense, the defendant could not have been the aggressor. 

The trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on duress. The defendant voluntarily joined with his accomplices to commit an armed robbery, he did not object or attempt to exit the vehicle as an accomplice forced the victims into the car, and the defendant...

In a drug case, the evidence failed to establish that the defendant was entitled to the entrapment defense as a matter of law. Thus, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss on grounds of entrapment and submitting the issue to the jury.

The trial court did not err by failing to instruct on accident. The defense is unavailable when the defendant was engaged in misconduct at the time of the killing. Here, the defendant was engaged in misconduct—he broke into a home with the intent to commit robbery and the killing occurred during...

The trial judge did not err by refusing to instruct on entrapment. The defendant was convicted of soliciting a child by computer with intent to commit an unlawful sex act. The “child” was a law enforcement officer pretending to be a 14 year old in an adults-only Yahoo chat room. The court...

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