Defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and felony hit-and-run for running over the boyfriend of defendant’s former paramour. The jury convicted defendant on both charges. The trial court need not have instructed the jury on defense of accident because multiple eyewitnesses testified that defendant’s vehicle appeared to intentionally strike the victim, nor on the element of willfulness for hit-and-run because there was no evidence the victim threatened defendant to motivate defendant’s departure from the scene.
We affirm defendant’s conviction and judgment of sentence.
Defendant and his former paramour, Amy Smith, separated. Smith began dating Bruce Thompson; defendant became jealous and confronted Thompson by striking Thompson’s vehicle as he drove to work. When Thompson exited his vehicle to assess the damage, defendant drove his vehicle into Thompson, knocking him over, then drove over Thompson and sped away. Defendant was charged with and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and felony hit-and-run resulting in injury.
We reject defendant’s challenge to the trial court’s decision not to instruct the jury on the defense of accident. We note that multiple eyewitnesses to the incident testified that defendant could have easily driven around Thompson without running over him. We further note that the state provided evidence of motive in the form of two prior confrontations between defendant and Thompson. Defendant never objected to the lack of an instruction. Thus, we hold that it was not plain error for the trial court to fail to give the jury an instruction on the defense of accident.
Finally, we rule that it was not plain error for the trial court not to instruct the jury on the element of willfulness for the hit-and-run charge. Although defendant argued that he left the scene to avoid being injured by Thompson, we find that the overwhelming evidence does not support defendant’s assertion. Instead, Thompson was fading in and out of consciousness after the accident, and multiple eyewitnesses testified that Thompson never threatened defendant.
State v. Lemm (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-188-18, 5 pp.) (Dillon, J.) Appealed from Wake County Superior Court (A. Graham Shirley, J.) Meghan Adelle Jones for appellant. Rajeev K. Premakumar for appellee. N.C. App. Unpub.