An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA04-1099


Filed: 5 July 2005


         v.                        Granville County
                                No. 03 CRS 50597

    Appeal by defendant from judgment dated 3 March 2004 by Judge Henry W. Hight, Jr., in Granville County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 6 June 2005.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Lorrin Freeman, for the State.

    Winifred H. Dillon for defendant.

    BRYANT, Judge.

    Craig Devin Fields (defendant) appeals his judgment dated 3 March 2004, entered consistent with a jury verdict finding him guilty of first-degree murder.     
    On 7 April 2003, defendant was indicted for the first-degree murder of Delores Evans. This matter came for jury trial at the 1 March 2004 criminal session of Granville County Superior Court with the Honorable Henry W. Hight, Jr., presiding. The jury found defendant guilty as charged on 3 March 2004. By judgment dated 3 March 2004, defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Defendant gave notice of appeal in open court.

    The State's evidence tended to show defendant and the victim were both employees of the Oxford Manor Nursing Home in Oxford, North Carolina. The two had also been involved in a very volatile romantic relationship for about three years. At one time, the victim had sought and obtained a restraining order against defendant. Further, on at least one occasion, defendant had bragged to Marshall Sneed, another co-worker at the nursing home, about a previous assault on the victim.
    Defendant and the victim argued on the telephone early on the morning of 3 March 2003, and thereafter, the victim drove to defendant's residence. Defendant's home was located about 100 yards from the nursing home. When the victim arrived, the two sat in her car and talked. After talking for about ten minutes, the two began to argue. The victim told defendant that she wanted to end their relationship, whereupon defendant asked the victim to return some rings he had given her. In response, the victim asked, “How can you take the ring off my finger?” Defendant pushed the victim, pulled a knife from his pocket, and began to stab the victim.
    Defendant stabbed the victim more than 50 times, slicing her neck from one side to the other and gashing her face. When the victim attempted to get out of the vehicle, defendant followed her, climbing over the center console, continuing to stab the victim as she attempted to escape the attack.
    Marshall Sneed, who worked with defendant and the victim, was outside the nursing home on the morning of 3 March 2003, and heardthe victim's screams. Sneed subsequently called 911, and ran up the street to help. By the time Sneed and another nursing home employee arrived, the police had already responded to the scene. Defendant was standing near the victim's car at the end of his driveway.
    When the responding officer, Jason Tingen of the Oxford Police Department, approached defendant and asked him if anyone was injured, defendant calmly showed Officer Tingen his hand. When the officer asked defendant if anyone else was injured, defendant responded, “just her,” pointing to the victim lying motionless on the ground. Though alive, the victim's pulse was weak and she was not breathing very well. The victim subsequently died from blood loss as a result of her stab wounds.
    Defendant did not present any evidence.
    Defendant's sole argument on appeal is the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the charge of first-degree murder. Defendant contends the State did not present sufficient evidence to show that he had the requisite intent to commit the offense charged. We disagree.
    The standard of review in this case is well settled:
        'In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the issue before the trial court is whether substantial evidence of each element of the offense charged has been presented, and that defendant was the perpetrator of the offense.' 'Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.' All the evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, must be considered by the trial court, in thelight most favorable to the State, with all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence being drawn in favor of the State.
State v. Parker, 143 N.C. App. 680, 686, 550 S.E.2d 174, 178 (2001)(citations omitted). “If there is more than a scintilla of competent evidence to support allegations in the warrant or indictment, it is the court's duty to submit the case to the jury.” State v. Everhardt, 96 N.C. App. 1, 11, 384 S.E.2d 562, 568 (1989), aff'd, 326 N.C. 777, 392 S.E.2d 391 (1990)(citation omitted).
    In the present case, defendant takes issue only with the sufficiency of the evidence to show the requisite intent to kill after premeditation and deliberation to sustain a conviction of first-degree murder. To obtain a conviction for first-degree murder, the State must show that the killing was done with malice, as well as with a specific intent to kill formed after premeditation and deliberation. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-17 (2003). “'A specific intent to kill is a necessary constituent of the elements of premeditation and deliberation in first degree murder.'” State v. Harshaw, 138 N.C. App. 657, 659, 532 S.E.2d 224, 226 (2000).
    Premeditation and deliberation have been described as “processes of the mind[,]” State v. Vause, 328 N.C. 231, 238, 400 S.E.2d 57, 62 (1991), and accordingly “are ordinarily not susceptible to proof by direct evidence and therefore must usually be proven by circumstantial evidence.” State v. Alston, 341 N.C. 198, 245, 461 S.E.2d 687, 713 (1995). Our Supreme Court more recently quoted:         'Premeditation means that the act was thought over beforehand for some length of time,' however short. 'Deliberation means an intent to kill, carried out in a cool state of blood, . . . and not under the influence of a violent passion' or a sufficient legal provocation. . . . Premeditation and deliberation can be inferred from many circumstances, some of which include: '(1) absence of provocation on the part of deceased, (2) the statements and conduct of the defendant before and after the killing, (3) threats and declarations of the defendant before and during the occurrence giving rise to the death of the deceased, (4) ill will or previous difficulties between the parties, (5) the dealing of lethal blows after the deceased has been felled and rendered helpless, (6) evidence that the killing was done in a brutal manner, and (7) the nature and number of the victim's wounds.'
State v. Leazer, 353 N.C. 234, 238, 539 S.E.2d 922, 925 (2000) (citations omitted). In Leazer, the Court further elucidated on the “'felled victim' theory of premeditation and deliberation,” explaining that “when numerous wounds are inflicted, [the felled victim theory posits that] the defendant has the opportunity to premeditate and deliberate from one [blow] to the next.” Id. at 239, 539 S.E.2d at 926.
    In the case sub judice, the evidence in the light most favorable to the State tends to show that defendant and the victim had a volatile relationship, and that at some time previous to the 3 March 2003 fatal stabbing, the victim had sought and obtained a restraining order against defendant. On the morning in question, it appears that the two engaged in a telephone conversation, during which they began to argue. The victim subsequently drove to defendant's residence, and defendant got into her car to continue their earlier conversation.     It does not appear that things became violent until the victim spoke of ending their relationship, at which time defendant pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed the victim some fifty times, while the victim screamed and attempted to flee. When the victim tried to exit the vehicle, defendant climbed over the center console of the front seat to continue to stab her. The responding officer, who arrived on the scene shortly after the stabbing, noted that defendant was quite calm. In fact, when asked was anyone hurt, defendant directed the responding officer to his hand. Only after being asked was anyone else injured did defendant, as an apparent afterthought, gesture over to the victim, where she lay motionless on the ground, stating “just her.”
    As in Leazer, we conclude that here “there was adequate time between [the fifty stab wounds] for defendant to have premeditated and deliberated his actions.” Id. at 239, 539 S.E.2d at 926. Further, a finding of premeditation and deliberation is supported by the fact that defendant exited his home with a lock blade knife in his possession before entering the victim's car to discuss their relationship. Finally, defendant's cool state of mind, when the police arrived and his insensitivity to the victim, who was lying on the ground, struggling to breathe, also supports such a finding.
    In light of all the foregoing, we conclude the State did present sufficient evidence of premeditation and deliberation, i.e., the intent to kill the victim, so as to withstand defendant's motion to dismiss. This assignment of error is overruled.
    No error.    Judges ELMORE and GEER concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

*** Converted from WordPerfect ***