An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA02-744


Filed: 19 August 2003


v .                             Wake County
                                No. 99 CRS 96934

    Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 28 March 2001 by Judge James C. Spencer, Jr., in Wake County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 19 May 2003.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney General Ralf F. Haskell, for the State.

    Webb & Webb, by John Webb, for defendant-appellant.

    EAGLES, Chief Judge.

    Defendant Sharoid Te-Juan Wright appeals from judgment entered in Wake County Superior Court upon a jury verdict convicting him of the first-degree murder of Roshaun Floyd.
    The State's evidence tended to establish the following: Defendant and Roshaun “Shaun” Floyd (“Floyd”) were friends who lived near one another and associated together socially. On 5 November 1999, Floyd was “hanging out” with defendant and another male known only to Floyd as “Thirst Bucket.”
    At approximately 11:10 p.m., two black males in their twenties and of average height and build, approached a pedestrian from behind on the 200 block of North Columbia Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The two males knocked the pedestrian down, robbedhim and then fled in a 1992, two door Acura Integra, bearing North Carolina registration number “MPS 8337.” The car, which was waiting nearby with a third individual in the driver's seat, belonged to Floyd.
    At approximately 11:50 p.m., the men arrived at Domino's Pizza in Cole Park Plaza just across the Chatham County line near Chapel Hill. Defendant and Floyd got out of the car, walked up to the store and asked the person inside if they could use the store's restroom. Although the store was closed, the owner, Wade Cartwright, was inside the store totaling the day's receipts and preparing the bank deposit. When Cartwright told defendant and Floyd that the store did not have a public restroom, defendant asked Cartwright for directions to I-40. After Cartwright went to the door, propped it open slightly and began giving defendant and Floyd directions to I-40, defendant “grabbed the door and pulled it” open. Floyd produced a knife and swung it at Cartwright. Cartwright stepped backwards to avoid being cut and then pushed the door open and ran between defendant and Floyd across the parking lot. Defendant pursued Cartwright for a short distance, but then returned to the store where he rejoined Floyd. Floyd had gone into the store and “grabbed the till.” The third individual then pulled Floyd's car up to the front of the store where defendant and Floyd got inside and fled.
    Around midnight on 6 November 1999, police contacted Floyd's parents by phone looking for Floyd. The officers told Floyd's parents that Floyd's car matched the description of a car that wasused in two separate robberies that occurred earlier that night. Floyd returned home at approximately 8:00 a.m. on 6 November 1999. Floyd's mother promptly told him that the police were looking for him in connection with the two robberies. Floyd denied any involvement and left shortly thereafter. Later that evening, defendant was talking to his girlfriend, Miranda Fields (“Fields”), at his apartment. During this conversation, defendant told Fields that he had robbed a Domino's Pizza the night before. Just after defendant revealed this information, Floyd's mother called defendant's apartment looking for Floyd. Floyd's mother told defendant that “the police were looking for [Floyd] because his car had been involved in a robbery.” Defendant told Floyd's mother that he had not seen Floyd since Floyd dropped him off the night before. Shortly thereafter, Floyd called defendant. Defendant told Floyd to meet him at defendant's apartment.
    Defendant and Fields then went to Fields' car, moved it to the far side of the parking lot and waited to see “if the police were coming with [Floyd].” Defendant and Fields were soon joined by defendant's brother, Shandon Wright. Defendant told Shandon about the robberies and then said that Floyd was on his way to defendant's apartment. Defendant said that he “was going to -- wanted to kill [Floyd] because he didn't want [Floyd] to tell the police because [defendant] didn't want to go back to jail.” Defendant further stated that “he was going to put [Floyd's] body somewhere where nobody would ever find him.” Defendant laid an unopened, folding knife on Fields' leg while they waited for Floyd.Floyd drove up to defendant's apartment approximately five to ten minutes later. Defendant, seeing that Floyd was alone, picked up the knife and walked over to meet Floyd. Defendant and Floyd went upstairs to defendant's apartment, but returned approximately ten minutes later. Defendant walked over to Fields' car, told her that he would be back but instructed her to leave her cell phone on. At approximately 8:00 p.m., Floyd drove away with defendant. Floyd was never seen alive again.
    Sometime between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., defendant called Fields on her cell phone and told her: “I did it, I did it, oh my God, I can't believe I did it.” Defendant, who was now crying, told Fields that he had blood on his hands and that he needed Fields to come get him. Fields reluctantly agreed and defendant instructed Fields to meet him at the Mayflower restaurant on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh, North Carolina.
    Fields' cousin, Veronica Sanders, drove with Fields to the Mayflower. They saw Floyd's car parked in the parking lot, but neither Floyd nor defendant appeared to be in the car. As Fields and Sanders drove by, Sanders noticed smeared blood on the passenger's side window. Defendant, who had gotten out of the car and was standing beside the restaurant, approached Fields' car and told Fields to follow him. Defendant then got into Floyd's car and drove out of the parking lot. Sanders and Fields followed defendant from the Mayflower to I-440 and then onto westbound I-40. Once on I-40, Sanders and Fields became frightened and contacted police via Fields' cell phone. After talking to 911 dispatchers, Fields andSanders returned to Raleigh. Defendant continued driving west on I- 40.
    On 8 November 1999, Floyd's car was found in a parking lot at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. There were smeared blood stains on the car's exterior beginning near the rear of the driver's door and continuing all the way around the rear of the car to the passenger's side door. There were also blood stains on the car's interior, including on the head liner above the driver's seat, the gear shift handle, the steering wheel, the passenger's side door jamb and the interior trim, seat cushion and floorboard of the rear passenger's side of the car. On 2 December 1999, Floyd's body was discovered in a shallow grave, near a rest area, located just off I-40 in Johnston County.
    Dr. Robert L. Thompson, the forensic pathologist at the office of the medical examiner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who performed an autopsy on Floyd's body, testified as an expert in the field of forensic pathology. During the autopsy Dr. Thompson noted that the victim sustained 9 stab wounds to his chest, head, neck and back, in addition to 6 superficial cuts to the head. Although Dr. Thompson determined that the cause of death was multiple stab wounds, he opined that the fatal wound was a single stab wound to the chest that penetrated Floyd's heart. Dr. Thompson further opined that the victim would have been rendered unconscious within approximately 30 seconds after receiving this wound. Dr. Thompson did not note the presence of any defensive wounds on the victim's body.    Special Agent Peter D. Deaver of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation examined the blood stains found in and on Floyd's car and testified as an expert in the field of blood spatter interpretation. As a result of his examination, Agent Deaver noted the following: (1) the presence of blood spatter on the head liner above the driver's seat; (2) contact blood stains that began just behind the driver's side door and continued in the same direction all the way around the rear of the car to the passenger's door; and (3) that blood had soaked all the way through the rear seat cushion and onto the floorboard. Agent Deaver opined that “at least two blows” were inflicted while the victim was seated in the driver's seat. Agent Deaver further opined that the victim, bleeding heavily, had been taken from the driver's seat, around the rear of the car and placed in the rear passenger-side seat, where he remained for a long period of time.
    Special Agent Brenda Bissette of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation also examined the blood evidence recovered from Floyd's car and testified as an expert in the field of forensic DNA analysis. According to Agent Bissette, the DNA profile obtained from the blood stains found on the car's exterior matched only the DNA profile obtained from samples of Floyd's blood. Similarly, the DNA profiles of the blood stains found on the car's door jamb, interior trim and rear seat cushion only matched Floyd's blood. However, the blood stains found on the car's steering wheel and gear shift handle originated from two separatesources, which matched samples of blood taken from both Shaun Floyd and defendant.
    Defendant testified in his own defense that after leaving his apartment on 6 November 1999, he and Floyd drove to Biltmore Hills Park in Raleigh. On the way to the park, defendant and Floyd purchased four 40 ounce bottles of King Cobra malt liquor, a quarter ounce of marijuana and four cigars. Once at the park, defendant and Floyd got out of Floyd's car, walked up a hill to a group of picnic tables and began drinking the malt liquor and smoking the marijuana. While there defendant and Floyd began trying to come up with a story to tell police about the robberies. After defendant consumed 80 ounces of malt liquor and smoked almost all of the marijuana, he and Floyd began to argue about who should accept the blame. This argument soon erupted into a physical altercation. Defendant testified that when Floyd started winning the fight, defendant removed the knife from his pocket and stabbed Floyd. When Floyd continued fighting, defendant testified he “just lost it” and started stabbing Floyd repeatedly. When Floyd stopped moving, defendant picked Floyd up, put him in the back seat of the car and began driving toward Wake Medical Center. However, defendant “got scared at the last minute” and instead of continuing on to Wake Medical Center, defendant drove to the rest area on I-40 and threw Floyd's body down an embankment. The next day, defendant returned to the rest area with his brother, Shandon Wright, and buried Floyd's body in a shallow grave. Defendant was convicted offirst-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Defendant appeals.
    Defendant first contends that the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss the first-degree murder charge at the close of the evidence. Defendant argues that because (1) the killing was in self-defense, and (2) he was too intoxicated to formulate the requisite specific intent to kill, the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction of first-degree murder. We disagree.
    “In ruling on a motion to dismiss a charge of first-degree murder, the trial court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, giving the State the benefit of every reasonable inference to be drawn from that evidence.” State v. Ross, 338 N.C. 280, 287, 449 S.E.2d 556, 562 (1994). “[T]here must be substantial evidence tending to prove each element of the offense charged and that defendant committed the crime.” Id. “Substantial evidence is defined as [that amount of] relevant evidence which a reasonable mind could accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” State v. Lee, 348 N.C. 474, 488, 501 S.E.2d 334, 343 (1998). Contradictions and discrepancies in the evidence do not warrant dismissal; rather, they are for the jury to resolve. Id. “If there is substantial evidence -- whether direct, circumstantial, or both -- to support a finding that the offense charged has been committed and that the defendant committed it, the case is for the jury and the motion to dismiss should be denied.” State v. Locklear, 322 N.C. 349, 358, 368 S.E.2d 377, 383 (1988).     “First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice and with premeditation and deliberation.” State v. Perdue, 320 N.C. 51, 58, 357 S.E.2d 345, 350 (1987). Defendant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence to support a finding of malice; instead, defendant concedes that he is guilty of second- degree murder. Therefore, the determinative question here is whether the State presented substantial evidence of premeditation and deliberation. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-17 (2002). After careful review of the record and trial transcript, we conclude the State presented ample evidence of premeditation and deliberation.
    “Premeditation means that defendant formed the specific intent to kill the victim for some period of time, however short, before the actual killing. Deliberation is an intention to kill, executed by defendant in a cool state of blood, in furtherance of a fixed design to accomplish some unlawful purpose.” Perdue, 320 N.C. at 58, 357 S.E.2d at 349 (citation omitted). “The elements of premeditation and deliberation are not ordinarily susceptible to direct proof”; rather, they are generally inferred from the circumstances that surround the killing. State v. Fountain, 282 N.C. 58, 70, 191 S.E.2d 674, 683 (1972). Relevant circumstances include:
    (1) want of provocation on the part of the deceased; (2) the conduct and statements of defendant before and after the killing; (3) the dealing of lethal blows after the deceased has been felled and rendered helpless; (4) evidence that the killing was done in a brutal manner; and (5) the nature and number of the victim's wounds.
State v. Hamilton, 150 N.C. App. 558, 563, 563 S.E.2d 292, 295 (2002).
    Here, the State's evidence tended to show that defendant planned to kill Floyd in order to avoid detection or arrest for the robberies defendant committed along with Floyd and “Thirst-Bucket.” Defendant made express statements to this effect to both his girlfriend and brother, just hours before the actual killing. Moreover, defendant's girlfriend, Miranda Fields testified that defendant was “calm” at the time he said he was going to kill Floyd. The blood evidence indicated that Floyd was stabbed multiple times while sitting in the driver's seat of his own car. The absence of defensive wounds on Floyd's body reasonably supports an inference that defendant was not provoked to attack by Floyd. Finally, Floyd was stabbed and/or cut a total of fifteen times. Several of these wounds were located on both the left and right sides of Floyd's back, as well as the left side of Floyd's head. Recalling that the State's evidence tended to establish that Floyd was sitting in the driver's seat when he was first attacked; this evidence, together with the absence of defensive wounds and Dr. Thompson's testimony that Floyd would have been rendered unconscious within seconds of being stabbed in the chest, reasonably supports an inference that at least some of the wounds were inflicted after Floyd was rendered helpless. Although defendant presented evidence which tended to wholly contradict the State's theory and evidence, this other evidence did not warrant a dismissal. On the contrary, these discrepancies were for the juryto resolve. Accordingly, we hold that the trial court properly denied defendant's motion to dismiss.
    Defendant next contends that the indictment upon which he was tried and convicted was insufficient to support a conviction of first-degree murder because it failed to specifically allege the elements of premeditation and deliberation. See Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227, 143 L. Ed. 2d 311 (1999). We disagree.
    Our courts have consistently held that a short-form murder indictment that complies with the requirements of G.S. § 15-144 will support a conviction of first-degree murder, under any theory set forth in G.S. § 14-17, without the need for specific allegations concerning premeditation and deliberation. State v. Braxton, 352 N.C. 158, 174, 531 S.E.2d 428, 437 (2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1130, 148 L. Ed. 2d 797 (2001). Because the indictment here complied in all respects with G.S. § 15-144, we conclude this assignment of error is without merit.
    Defendant next contends that the trial court erred by permitting the State to exclude all potential jurors from service who expressed the view that they could not, under any circumstances, vote in favor of the death penalty. Defendant argues that this practice deprived him of a jury made up of a fair and representative cross-section of the community and resulted in the impaneling of a “guilt prone” jury. We disagree.
    The North Carolina Supreme Court has consistently held that “'death-qualifying' a jury is constitutional under both the federal and state Constitutions.” State v. Williams, 355 N.C. 501, 552, 565S.E.2d 609, 639 (2002)(citations omitted), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 154 L. Ed. 2d 808 (2003). Furthermore, the Court has expressly rejected defendant's arguments that “'death qualification' denies a defendant his right to a jury made up of a cross-section of the community, and . . . results in a conviction-prone jury.” State v. Holden, 321 N.C. 125, 133, 362 S.E.2d 513, 520 (1987)(citing Lockhart v. McCree, 476 U.S. 162, 90 L. Ed. 2d 137 (1986)), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1061, 100 L. Ed. 2d 935 (1988). Accordingly, this assignment of error is rejected.     
    Defendant's final contention is that the trial court erred by failing to conduct an inquiry into the substance of a conversation that allegedly took place between one or more jurors outside of deliberations. We disagree.
     After the jury had retired to deliberate, a member of the district attorney's staff overheard two or three jurors discussing the case during a luncheon recess. The staff member immediately informed the prosecutors, who in turn informed defense counsel and the trial judge. The prosecutor then requested that the trial judge re-instruct the jury not to discuss the case outside of deliberations. Following the prosecutor's request, the trial judge asked counsel for “[a]ny other comment about that.” Upon receiving no further comments, the trial judge instructed the jury not to discuss the case outside of the jury room.
    A defendant waives appellate review of the trial court's failure to conduct an inquiry into the substance of alleged conversations between jurors by neither objecting to the trialcourt's action in reinstructing the jury nor requesting further inquiry into the substance of the alleged conversations between jurors. State v. Jaynes, 342 N.C. 249, 262-63, 464 S.E.2d 448, 457 (1995), cert. denied, 518 U.S. 1024, 135 L. Ed. 2d 1080 (1996). Here, even after explicitly being given an opportunity to do so, defendant neither objected to the trial court's action nor requested any further inquiry into the substance of the alleged conversation. Accordingly, defendant has waived appellate review of this issue.
    We hold that defendant received a fair trial, free from prejudicial error.
    No error.
    Judges BRYANT and LEVINSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

*** Converted from WordPerfect ***