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Tag Archives: murder

Criminal Practice – Murder – Self-Defense – Motion to Dismiss – First Shot Fired (access required)

State v. Sistler Even though defendant presented evidence that the victim fired the first shot, when ruling on defendant’s motion to dismiss, the trial court correctly considered the evidence in the light most favorable to the state, including evidence that defendant fired the first shot. We find no error in defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Jury & Jurors – Impartiality — Batson Challenge – Discovery – Imperfect Self-Defense (access required)

State v. Pender Even though a juror admitted during voir dire that he had learned about this case by reading about it in the newspaper, during questioning by the court and defense counsel, the juror repeatedly asserted that he believed he could put aside what he had learned from the media. The trial court did not err in denying defendant’s challenge to the juror for cause. We find no error in defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Evidence – Cell Phone Records – Authentication (access required)

State v. Crawley Even though the records custodian from the telephone company did not personally send the phone records at issue to the police, he testified that he believed the records shown to him at trial to be accurate and that he was familiar with such documents. He testified that the records were kept in the normal course of business and that the documents presented at trial were the same as those normally sent to law enforcement in connection with a case. The witness’s testimony was sufficient to show that the records were, as the state claimed, phone company records. Any question as to the accuracy or reliability of such records was a jury question.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Evidence – Expert Testimony – Bullets – Forensic Toolmark ID – Defendant’s Finances (access required)

State v. Britt N.C. courts have allowed expert testimony on firearm toolmark identification for decades; furthermore, defendant did not introduce any new or compelling evidence to challenge the reliability of the methodology. We uphold the trial court’s ruling that toolmark identification is sufficiently reliable. We find no error in defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Sufficient Evidence – Premeditation & Deliberation (access required)

State v. Patel The state presented evidence that, before the victim’s murder, defendant threatened her and choked her twice. On the morning of the murder, defendant purchased a gas can and gas after speaking with the victim, who had told others she was going to call defendant about going to pick up belongings at his apartment. When defendant returned to his apartment and spoke again with the victim at 10:34, he immediately then called to cancel a 1:30 appointment. Viewed in the light most favorable to the state, this conduct before the murder constitutes evidence of premeditation and deliberation.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Motive – Circumstantial Evidence – Estranged Husband – Appeals – Evenly Divided Court (access required)

State v. Pastuer Where our Court of Appeals reversed defendant’s first-degree murder conviction, holding Even though the state proved defendant had a motive for killing his estranged wife, and even though the victim’s blood was found on one of defendant’s shoes, defendant and the victim had lived together until a few months before her murder, and the state failed to show that the victim’s blood could only have gotten on defendant’s shoe at the time of her murder, we let the Court of Appeals’ decision stand without precedential value.

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Criminal Practice – Evidence – Prior Consistent Statement – Shooter’s Identity – Murder – Premeditation & Deliberation – Five Shots   (access required)

State v. Phillpott Defendant argues that a prosecution witness’s out-of-court statement should not have been admitted as a prior inconsistent statement. This argument is without merit because, when considered in context, the out-of-court statement was consistent with the witness’ in-court denial that defendant was the shooter.

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Phillips, murderer of four, loses Supreme Court bid to avoid death penalty (access required)

Mario Phillips (pictured) will remain on North Carolina’s death row after what was the last state-level appeal of his 2007 first-degree murder convictions for killing four people during a robbery. The North Carolina Supreme Court, with Judge Barbara Jackson not participating, upheld the original conviction and rejected Phillips’ bid for a new trial, finding no errors in the lower court’s rulings. The Supreme Court first heard the appeal in February 2010.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Confession — Miranda Waiver – Constitutional – Effective Assistance of Counsel (access required)

State v. Phillips Even though a capital defender learned that defendant had been arrested for murder and tried to get in to see defendant, since defendant waived his Miranda rights and talked to law enforcement officers without asking for a lawyer, law enforcement officers were not required to allow the attorney to see defendant. We find no error in defendant’s convictions of four counts of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, robbery with a firearm, and arson. We also find no error in the sentence of death.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Insanity Defense – Specific Intent – Jury Instructions – Confession – Miranda Warnings – Confrontation Clause – Expert Witness (access required)

State v. Hartley The state was concerned that the trial court's original jury instructions shifted the burden of proof regarding specific intent to defendant, so the court reinstructed the jury: "If you find from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant [committed the offense charged], it would be your duty to return a verdict of guilty ..., unless you are satisfied that the defendant was insane at that time and/or that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the required mental capacity to formulate the specific intent required for conviction of this crime."

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