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Criminal Practice – Involuntary Manslaughter – Prior Bad Acts – Disciplining Children

During the one-year romantic relationship between defendant and Marquise McCall, which included two weeks of living together, defendant (1) punched McCall’s four-year-old son in the chest (before they moved in together), (2) beat McCall’s daughter with a belt, and (3) snatched a videogame system out of the wall after becoming angry with one of the children. After the couple had broken up but before defendant moved out, he was babysitting McCall’s 22-month-old son, T.A., when T.A. suffered a head injury that led to his death. At defendant’s trial for the murder of T.A., the trial court (1) found that two of the prior acts involved “striking” and the third was “indicative of a temper; (2) noted that the behavior at issue was consistent with defendant’s statement to McCall that, if she would discipline her children, then he “wouldn’t have to”; (3) considered the temporal proximity of all relevant acts; (4) found the conduct was “probative of the intent . . .. , the motive . . . , the absence of mistake or accident, and malice of . . . defendant”; and (4) gave the jury appropriate limiting instructions. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting McCall’s testimony about defendant’s prior acts.

We find no error in defendant’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter.

State v. Buchanan (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-032-23, 9 pp.) (Michael Stading, J.) Appealed from Wake County Superior Court (Paul Ridgeway, J.) Michael Henry for the state; Drew Nelson for defendant. N.C. App.

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