State v. Goins (Lawyers Weekly No. 14-07-0159, 16 pp.) (Linda McGee, J.) Appealed from New Hanover County Superior Court (Arnold O. Jones II, J.) N.C. App.
Holding: When the state elicited testimony that a witness had written letters to defendant in prison, the state was not introducing evidence of other crimes, wrongs or acts within the meaning of N.C. R. Evid. 404(b).
We find no error in defendant’s convictions of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, three counts of first-degree sexual offense, assault with a deadly weapon, communicating threats, and being a violent habitual felon.
Although approximately 27 months passed between defendant’s indictment and his trial, he offered no evidence that the state’s neglect or willfulness caused a delay. Since defendant also failed to show prejudice resulting from the delay, his right to a speedy trial was not violated.
Where witness Jonathan Stevens had the best opportunity to observe defendant’s demeanor and hear his statements just before and just after the alleged offenses, Stevens’ testimony was critical to the state’s case. When he claimed that he could not remember his interview with detectives, the state was properly allowed to impeach him by presenting the video recording of the interview. Furthermore, the trial court gave an effective limiting instruction. The trial court did not err in allowing the state to impeach its own witness.
Defendant’s right to remain silent was not violated when, in the state’s closing argument, the prosecutor commented on defendant’s failure to present evidence. In fact, the prosecutor actually noted defendant’s right to remain silent, rather than highlighting defendant’s failure to testify.