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Tag Archives: murder

Criminal Procedure – Murder — Brady Error — New Trial (access required)

Wolfe v. Clarke A defendant convicted of murder-for-hire has shown that state prosecutors violated Brady v. Maryland when they intentionally withheld a detective’s report about conversation with the chief prosecution witness who said defendant asked him to commit the murder, and the 4th Circuit grants defendant’s § 2254 petition in this murder-for-hire case.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Circumstantial Evidence – Motive & Opportunity (access required)

State v. Miles Even though the state presented no direct evidence that defendant killed the victim, the state presented sufficient circumstantial evidence. The state proved motive in the form of a $40,000 debt and opportunity via cell phone records and testimony as to defendant’s threats and his possession of a gun like the one that killed the victim.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Indictment Amendment – Date – Alibi Defense — Evidence – Witness Statements (access required)

State v. Avent Although defendant was relying on an alibi defense, the amendment of the murder date in the indictment did not prejudice him. He was still able to present an alibi for the corrected date of the murder; moreover, witness statements and the autopsy gave the correct date, so defendant was not surprised by the amendment of the indictment.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Evidence – Prior Conviction – Manslaughter – Surrounding Circumstances – Prejudicial Error (access required)

State v. Flood Although defendant’s New Jersey conviction of a 1994 manslaughter was properly admitted, evidence of the circumstances surrounding the 1994 shooting should have been excluded. The only remarkable similarities between the 1994 manslaughter and the 2007 shooting at issue were that both victims were prone and both were shot in the head.

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Criminal Practice – Murder, Attempted Murder & Assault – Specific Intent – Mental Illness (access required)

State v. Shareef In support of his plea of diminished capacity, defendant met his burden of production through multiple witnesses, including mental health professionals. Although the state did not present any expert testimony, the state pointed to defendant’s acts before, during, and after the crime as showing that he had the specific intent to kill: the state’s evidence tended to show that defendant targeted the victims he intended to run over, tried to inflict maximum damage on his victims, chased those who evaded him, and sped away from each scene until he identified his next victim. Based on the state’s evidence, a jury could reasonably find that, despite his mental illness, defendant intended to kill his victims.

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‘Touch’ DNA up for scrutiny

Mark Bradley Carver, the man convicted of the 2008 murder of UNC-Charlotte student Irina Yarmolenko, will remain in prison after the North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected his argument that the trial court judge should have dismissed the charges because they were entirely dependent on the presence of Carver’s “touch” DNA.

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Criminal Practice – Murder — Evidence – Circumstantial – DNA at Crime Scene (access required)

State v. Carver At the time the victim’s strangled body was discovered beside her car on the bank of the Catawba River, defendant was fishing a short distance away and had been there for several hours. Defendant repeatedly denied ever touching the victim’s vehicle, but DNA found on the victim’s car was, with an extremely high probability, matched to defendant. Under State v. Miller, 289 N.C. 1, 220 S.E.2d 572 (1975), the state’s circumstantial evidence was sufficient to survive defendant’s motion to dismiss.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Self-Defense Claim – Character for Peacefulness – Past Crimes – Juvenile Adjudications (access required)

State v. Williams Where defendant’s mother testified that defendant was not a violent person, she placed a pertinent trait of his character at issue. The state could then question her about defendant’s prior crimes under N.C. R. Evid. 404(a)(1) in rebuttal to defendant’s character evidence as to his peaceful nature.

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