Copyright 1998 - N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts


STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. DEMETRIUS ANTOINE COFIELD

No. COA97-609

(Filed 21 April 1998)

1.    Jury § 248 (NCI4th)-- peremptory challenges -- Batson decision -- applicability to defendants

    The decision of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, has been expanded to prohibit not only the State, but also criminal defendants, from engaging in purposeful racial discrimination in the exercise of peremptory challenges.

2.    Jury § 257 (NCI4th)-- peremptory challenges -- racial discrimination -- prima facie showing

    The State made a prima facie showing of racial discrimination in a black defendant's peremptory challenges in a capital trial where the jury consisted of six black and six white jurors just prior to defense counsel's exercise of defendant's peremptory challenges; defense counsel peremptorily challenged no black jurors at this point but did peremptorily challenge four white jurors, two-thirds of the white jurors then available; and the State noted other relevant circumstances, including the facts that black jurors remaining on the panel "paralleled" the challenged white jurors, that the challenged jurors had indicated that they could consider both life imprisonment and the death penalty, and that none had demonstrated any partiality.

3.    Jury § 260 (NCI4th)-- peremptory challenges -- racial discrimination -- explanations -- rebuttal of prima facie case

    A black defendant's explanations for peremptorily challenging four white jurors in this capital trial successfully rebutted the State's prima facie case of racial discrimination where defendant explained that the first juror was challenged because she knew one of the State's expert witnesses, her sister was a victim of a recent breaking and entering, and her uncle worked in the same police department as officers involved in this case; the second juror was challenged because he had served in the military, appeared to have some difficulty with race, was a member of the VFW, and counsel was concerned about some of his facial expressions when questioned about a family member who had previously been raped; the third juror was challenged because he had served in the military, was a member of a gun club, and appeared to have some difficulty with race; and the fourth juror was challenged because counsel thought he had been deceptive and he would not look counsel "in the eye."

4.    Jury § 260 (NCI4th)-- peremptory challenges -- pretextual race-neutral explanations -- racial discrimination

    The trial court did not err by finding that a black defendant's facially race-neutral explanations for peremptorily challenging three white jurors were pretextual so that the State established purposeful discrimination where the first juror was a "little girl" when her uncle retired from the same police department involved in this case, the second juror was not obnoxious to defense counsel as counsel claimed but was merely irritated because counsel repeatedly asked him the same questions, and the rape of the third juror's family member, which concerned defense counsel, had occurred nine to ten years prior to this trial.

5.    Homicide § 275 (NCI4th)-- felony murder -- attempted armed robbery -- sufficiency of evidence

    The State's evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for first-degree murder in the perpetration of attempted armed robbery where it tended to show that defendant signed a statement in which he admitted that he carried a gun into a store, he had a hood pulled down to just above his eyes and a bandanna over the bottom of his face, he pointed a gun at the cashier and told him to "give me your loot," and when the cashier laughed, he fired a gun and ran from the store; a witness saw defendant enter the store with a gun and heard a gunshot while defendant was inside the store; and the cashier's body was found near the cash register.

6.    Homicide § 553 (NCI4th)-- first-degree murder -- denial of guilt -- second-degree instruction not required

    A first-degree murder defendant's denial at trial that he shot the victim did not require the trial court to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of second-degree murder.

    Appeal by defendant from judgment dated 11 October 1996 by Judge Franklin R. Brown in Edgecombe County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 24 February 1998.