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Criminal Practice – Manslaughter – Expert Testimony – Fight or Flight – Self-Defense – Restitution

Criminal Practice – Manslaughter – Expert Testimony – Fight or Flight – Self-Defense – Restitution

Despite the defense expert’s qualifications, her testimony about the “fight or flight” response to stress appeared to be proffered in order to cast a sheen of technical and scientific methodology onto a concept of which a lay person (and jury member) would probably be aware. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding defendant’s proffered expert testimony regarding the “fight or flight” response.

We find no error in defendant’s conviction of voluntary manslaughter. We vacate the restitution award and remand for further proceedings.

The trial court did not err in instructing the jury on the aggressor doctrine as it relates to self-defense where defendant testified that he pretended his pocketknife was a pistol and where the victim was shot twice in the back (in addition to other places). The trial court properly allowed the jury to determine whether or not defendant was the aggressor.

A restitution worksheet alone is insufficient to support a restitution award. Because no documentary or testimonial evidence supports the $3,360 restitution award for the victim’s funeral expenses, we vacate the restitution order and remand for rehearing on this issue.

State v. Thomas (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-139-18, 20 pp.) (Wanda Bryant, J.) Appealed from Onslow County Superior Court (Ronald Stephens, J.) Patrick Wooten for the state; M. Gordon Widenhouse Jr. for defendant. N.C. App.



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