Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Opinion Digests / Criminal Practice / Criminal Practice – Murder – Accomplice Testimony – Plea Agreement – ME’s Testimony

Criminal Practice – Murder – Accomplice Testimony – Plea Agreement – ME’s Testimony

While it is improper for counsel to ask a witness whether he has in fact spoken the truth during his testimony, counsel does not improperly vouch for the credibility of a witness by merely providing the jury a reason to trust their witnesses. Here, the prosecutor asked whether a witness’s plea agreement and his agreement to be sentenced in the future both required him to testify truthfully. Although these questions may have elicited testimony that provided the jury a reason they should believe the witness, they were distinguishable from directly inquiring whether the witness provided truthful testimony.

We find no error in defendant’s conviction for first-degree murder. We deny defendant’s petition for a writ of certiorari and affirm the civil judgment against defendant for attorney’s fees and costs.

Despite defendant’s stipulation as to the identity of the victim, the medical examiner was properly allowed to testify that the victim experienced pain and how long it might have taken him to die. Expert testimony concerning the pain and suffering of the victim in a first-degree murder case is relevant and admissible to assist the jury in ascertaining whether the defendant was acting with premeditation and deliberation.

Furthermore, graphic evidence of decomposition, even when the defendant has stipulated to the identity of the victim, is admissible to demonstrate the condition of a victim and the injuries a victim sustained. Such evidence demonstrates the circumstances of the victim’s death and is relevant in a first-degree murder trial. The trial court did not err by admitting the medical examiner’s testimony detailing the process of maggot infestation and decomposition.

State v. Adams (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-024-23, 18 pp.) (John Arrowood, J.) Appealed from Mecklenburg County Superior Court (Louis Trosch, J.) Sonya Calloway-Durham for the state; Sandra Payne Hagood for defendant. N.C. App. Unpub.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *