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Criminal Practice – MAR – Discovery Violations – No Prejudice – Jury Instructions

Criminal Practice – MAR – Discovery Violations – No Prejudice – Jury Instructions

State v. Ramseur (Lawyers Weekly No. 13-07-0318, 23 pp.) (Linda Stephens, J.) Appealed from Iredell County Superior Court (Richard D. Boner, J.) N.C. App.

Holding: Even though the state failed to provide defendant with an investigator’s handwritten notes, which indicated that Deleon Dalton — who had been involved in an affray with the victims – asked for a gun on the night the victims were shot, this same information was contained in a report which was timely provided to defendant. Moreover, the investigator’s testimony at the hearing on defendant’s motion for appropriate relief clarified that Dalton never received the gun. We cannot conclude that defendant has shown a reasonable probability that the outcome of his trial could have been different if he had received the investigator’s notes before trial.

We affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. We find no error in defendant’s convictions of two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

The state also failed to provide defendant with a letter from an informant mentioning an eyewitness to the murder. The letter does not identify the eyewitness or explain what he would say.

The evidence against defendant included, inter alia, extensive testimony from co-conspirator Parish Reinhardt about defendant’s role in recruiting Reinhardt and Al Bellamy to arm themselves and then lie in wait, in what was essentially an ambush of the victims. In light of the evidence against him, we cannot conclude that there is a reasonable probability the outcome of defendant’s trial would have been altered even if defendant had known about the informant’s stated knowledge of an alleged eyewitness.

Although defendant contends the state only provided him with an unsigned copy of the agreement between the state and witness Oderia Chipley, a question asked by defense counsel during Chipley’s voir dire shows that defendant was aware of at least one such agreement that Chipley had signed. Furthermore, in front of the jury, defense counsel’s questioning of Chipley revealed that he was testifying as part of a deal which cut his lengthy federal prison sentence in half. We cannot conclude that defendant was prejudiced by receiving an unsigned copy of the agreement.

Defendant received notes from the state that an informant had told another witness that he had heard that the family of one of the victims had retaliated against Torrie Miller for the shooting. Defendant was not prejudiced by the state’s failure to produce notes about interviews regarding Miller or an investigator’s notes about his interview with the informant.

With regard to defendant’s direct appeal, we find that nothing in the evidence would support a reasonable belief by defendant that he or the people in the house across the street were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm unless defendant fired on the victims. Nothing suggested that the victims were about to gain access to the house in which they had previously been fighting. At the time defendant started shooting, the victims had stepped away from the house and were on the sidewalk. There was no evidence that the victims were even aware of defendant’s presence on the scene (he and his co-conspirators were hiding in a line of trees across the street), much less that defendant’s life was in imminent danger when he fired the first shot. Defendant was not entitled to a jury instruction on perfect or imperfect self-defense or perfect or imperfect defense of others.

Affirmed in part; no error in part.


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