State v. Capers. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-07-1228, 21 pp.) (Martha A. Geer, J.) Appealed from Cleveland County Superior Court. (J. Gentry Caudill, J.) N.C. App. Click here for the full text of the opinion.
Holding: Even though a defendant in a criminal trial is usually entitled to appear at trial free from bonds or shackles, since it is common knowledge that suspects are handcuffed upon arrest, the trial court did not err when it admitted testimony that defendant was handcuffed and shackled during his transfer from New York to North Carolina.
No error in defendant’s convictions of first-degree murder.
A police detective testified to a conversation between him and defendant during transport: “[Defendant] stated that we should have waited until 12 midnight, that we were early. I stated that if we would have waited until 12 midnight that we would have been late, and he said that, yeah, I would have been gone and you would have never saw me again.”
A jury could reasonably find that this statement – indicating that defendant would have fled if he had had the opportunity – was an implicit admission of guilt by defendant; therefore, it was relevant and admissible.
Even though approximately 50 minutes passed between the shooting and the victim’s statement to his mother that defendant had shot him, since the intervening time was taken up by medical personnel’s attempts to save the victim’s life, the time period was sufficiently brief to fall under the present sense impression exception to the rule against hearsay.