An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA04-1277


Filed: 15 November 2005


    v.                            Gaston County
                                Nos.    03 CRS 63869
STEVEN LAVERN WEAVER,                    03 CRS 63870

    Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 4 June 2004 by Judge Clarence E. Horton, Jr., in Gaston County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 26 September 2005.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Newton G. Pritchett, Jr., for the State.

    Blanchard, Newman & Hayes, by Gregory A. Newman, for defendant-appellant.

    GEER, Judge.

    Defendant Steven Lavern Weaver was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury upon his wife, Deborah S. Weaver, and of assault with a deadly weapon upon his teenage step-daughter C.D. Defendant's sole argument on appeal is that the State presented insufficient evidence that he acted with an intent to kill Weaver. We hold, however, that the State presented sufficient evidence to allow a jury to reasonably conclude that defendant intended to kill Weaver when he stabbed her.
    The evidence at trial, viewed in the light most favorable to the State, tended to show that defendant and Weaver had an argumentwhile driving home from church on the morning of 14 September 2003. The argument continued in the kitchen of their house, where defendant brandished a pocket-knife with a two-and-one-half-inch blade, pointed it at Weaver's face, and threatened to "stick" her with it. Weaver told defendant she was calling his probation officer. As she was talking to the probation officer on a cordless telephone in the living room, defendant "start[ed] cussing and going on" and ran to C.D.'s bedroom. He kicked open the door and pulled the phone jack from the wall.
    Weaver had gone outside with the phone to better hear the officer. As she was standing beside her van, Weaver "felt a very sharp punch in [her] back" and fell to her knees. Seeing defendant assault her mother, C.D. came outside and stepped between them. As Weaver was standing up, defendant grabbed C.D. by the throat and stabbed her twice in the back and twice in the chest. Weaver tried to get defendant away from C.D., causing defendant to stab Weaver in the chest, arm, over her right breast, and four times under her breast. Defendant's 12-year-old stepson, L.D., tried to hit defendant with a rake handle. Defendant "ran after [L.D.] and told him he was going to kill all of [them] there today."
    L.D. fled to a neighbor's house and called the police. When the neighbor came out of his house with a gun, defendant got into his truck and drove away. Weaver was taken to the hospital with a collapsed left lung and a punctured right lung. She had surgery the same day and remained in intensive care for nine days.
    The jury found defendant guilty of assaulting Weaver with adeadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and of assaulting C.D. with a deadly weapon. The trial court consolidated defendant's two offenses for judgment and sentenced him to a term of 96 to 125 months imprisonment. Defendant gave notice of appeal in open court.
    Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to show his intent to kill Weaver under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-32(c) (2003). In reviewing defendant's claim, we must determine only whether the State offered "substantial evidence" of his intent to kill, such that a reasonable juror could have found him guilty of this element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Etheridge, 319 N.C. 34, 47, 352 S.E.2d 673, 681 (1987). In making this determination, the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the State. Id. "Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." State v. Williams, 133 N.C. App. 326, 328, 515 S.E.2d 80, 82 (1999).
    The intent to kill is a condition of mind not subject to direct observation and must usually be established by inference based upon the surrounding circumstantial facts. State v. Thacker, 281 N.C. 447, 455, 189 S.E.2d 145, 150 (1972). "The nature of the assault, the manner in which it was made, the weapon, if any, used, and the surrounding circumstances are all matters from which an intent to kill may be inferred. Moreover, an assailant must be held to intend the natural consequences of his deliberate act." State v. Grigsby, 351 N.C. 454, 457, 526 S.E.2d 460, 462 (2000)(internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
    Here, defendant began his assault upon Weaver by stabbing her in the back from behind. After pausing to stab C.D. in the back and chest, defendant stabbed Weaver six additional times in the chest region and once in the arm. He interrupted his attack upon Weaver when confronted by L.D. with a rake handle, but then announced his intention to kill each of his victims while chasing after L.D. with the knife. Defendant ceased the assault only when approached by a neighbor with a gun. We hold that this evidence _ including the nature and persistence of defendant's assault upon Weaver; the weapon used, the number, location, and severity of Weaver's stab wounds; and defendant's explicit threat to kill Weaver and her children _ was sufficient to support a reasonable inference of his intent to kill Weaver. See Grigsby, 351 N.C. at 458, 526 S.E.2d at 463 (holding that evidence of an intent to kill existed when the defendant jumped on the victim's back, threatened the victim, and used a knife that enabled him to repeatedly stab the victim without losing his grip).
    In his brief to this Court, defendant expressly withdraws his remaining assignment of error.
    No error.
    Judges BRYANT and ELMORE concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

*** Converted from WordPerfect ***