Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 2 February 2005 by
Judge Orlando F. Hudson in Durham County Superior Court. Heard in
the Court of Appeals 6 June 2006.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General
Sonya M. Calloway, for the State.
Terry W. Alford for defendant-appellant.
Defendant Kelly M. Whitman appeals his convictions for
statutory rape, statutory sex offense, indecent liberties with a
child, and incest. On appeal, defendant primarily argues that thetrial court erred by: (1) denying defendant's motion for a bill of
particulars; (2) allowing the State to amend the offense dates
reflected on certain indictments on the day of trial and denying
defendant's subsequent motion for a continuance; (3) admitting
certain photographs into evidence; (4) denying defendant's motion
to dismiss the charges for insufficient evidence; and (5) coercing
the jury into rendering a verdict. We disagree with each of
defendant's arguments and, accordingly, find no error.
At trial, the State's evidence tended to show the following
(See footnote 1)
born in 1983, was removed from her mother's
custody when she was about seven years old and placed into foster
care with defendant Kelly M. Whitman, born in 1948, and his wife,
Barbara Whitman. The Whitmans had fostered and adopted numerous
children and continued to do so during the time Mary lived with
On 4 July 1997, when Mary was 14, Ms. Whitman was staying at
the hospital while her father was preparing for heart surgery.
Defendant and Mary remained at home, and defendant had Mary sleep
with him in the Whitmans' bed. During the night, defendant pushed
up against Mary and fondled her chest and between her legs while,
according to Mary, "breathing really heavy." Subsequently,
defendant began taking Mary on "driving lessons," during which hewould fondle her chest and legs while she steered and shifted the
Mary was legally adopted by the Whitmans when she was
approximately 15 years old. Shortly thereafter, however, the
Whitmans separated, and defendant moved into his own apartment.
Although Mary initially lived with Ms. Whitman, she later moved in
Defendant would often travel for work, and Mary occasionally
went with him if she was not in school. On one such trip, after
Mary had been adopted by the Whitmans, defendant gave her vodka
mixed with orange juice. Apparently having drank too much, Mary
began to feel sick and laid down. Defendant took off their
clothes, began kissing Mary, performed oral sex on her, and
ultimately had sexual intercourse with her. Defendant stopped
after Mary began crying.
Defendant and Mary thereafter began having sexual intercourse
about "three times a week," according to Mary. Typically,
defendant gave Mary alcohol and then touched and kissed her.
Whenever Mary tried to "jerk away," defendant would get mad, so
Mary would then "just sit there" while defendant took off her
clothes and fondled her. Defendant always performed oral sex on
Mary, and, on several occasions, made her perform oral sex on him.
The two would usually engage in sexual intercourse after the oral
The last instance of sexual intercourse between defendant and
Mary occurred in the summer of 2002, when Mary was 19 years old. Defendant had Mary accompany him on a trip to Baltimore, Maryland,
and they had sex in defendant's hotel room after an evening of
drinking. Mary moved out of defendant's home about a week later to
move in with her boyfriend, whom she planned to marry.
Shortly thereafter, Mary spent a day helping Ms. Whitman in
her duties as a substitute teacher at a local elementary school.
While the children were in recess, Mary told Ms. Whitman about
defendant's sexual conduct with her. Ms. Whitman confronted
defendant with Mary's allegations, which, according to Mary, he
ultimately admitted. Ms. Whitman testified that Mary, after
yelling accusations at defendant, then asked him, in front of Ms.
Whitman, "Are you denying this?" Defendant responded "[n]o," but
then told Ms. Whitman, "It's not what you think."
Mary and her boyfriend were later married by Claude Spencer
Chamberlain, Jr., a minister who happened to also be a detective
with the Durham County Sheriff's office. After the wedding, Mary's
relationship with Ms. Whitman began to deteriorate, and Ms. Whitman
threatened to go to Mary's new husband and "tell him about [Mary's]
past." Mary then called Detective Chamberlain because she felt she
could trust him.
Detective Chamberlain, along with Sergeant William M. Oakley,
III of the Durham County Sheriff's Office, interviewed Mary on 12
December 2002. Concerned about the lack of physical evidence,
Sergeant Oakley obtained Mary's consent to electronically monitor
and record a conversation between her and defendant, ostensibly
regarding an unrelated car insurance claim. Sergeant Oakley,Detective Chamberlain, and Mary ultimately recorded three
conversations between defendant and Mary. The conversations
included the following excerpts:
F [Mary]: . . . I am having a lot of problems
M [defendant]: huh huh
F: and I need you to help me to understand
why you did this to me.
M: [Mary,] I don't know. And I wish I could
explain it to you. And I wish it had never
happened and I mean that from the bottom of my
F: You know I was put in foster care with you
guys so I could get out of being molested by
M: I understand that [Mary].
F: and then you
M: and I totally
F: and then you promised me you, it would
never happen again and then you turn around
and you do it.
M: I totally understand everything you say.
I really do and there is nobody at fault at
this but me.
F: Why would you make me suck your dick?
M: [Mary], you know, I can't explain that
[Mary], I can't explain any of this [Mary]. I
. . . .
F: . . . [W]hat did you get out of for [sic]
having sex with me for[?]
F: For God the first time when I was like
M: Let me ask you a question [Mary.]
F: 14 until the age of 19[.]
M: Let me ask you a question. If I knew
that, I would be able to answer it, do you
understand that. . . .
F: You have no idea why you did that?
M: I have no idea. It was Sex [sic]. That
is the only thing I can tell you. I have no
F: Don't you think you have a problem?
M: No I don't think I have a problem.
F: You don't have a problem?
M: I had a problem.
M: Because it was wrong about what I did.
. . . .
F: [D]id you enjoy what you did, did you
enjoy the sex, did you enjoy doing that?
M: [D]id I enjoy what?
F: [H]aving sex with me?
M: [Y]es I did [Mary]. Why would I lie to
you about that, but that is not the issue. I
was wrong. It is something I should have
never ever done.
. . . .
F: [A] 40 and 50 year old man can not love a
13 year old and can not be in love with [a] 13
year old in a sexual way. I mean is that what
you are saying it was?
M: [N]o I said when it first started [Mary] I
didn't know I told you that. When it first
started I don't know why. It was just
F: Do you remember when it started?
M: I think I remember exactly when it
started. Yes I do. That is how much I think
about it and how sick I get.
F: Tell me, when did it start? I want to see
if you really remember. Because I know, I
know the exact day, I remember[.]
M: I do too . . . .
F: I remember what was going on that time[.]
M: I think I do, I know . . . .
M: [A]nd I am not too sure if she was in the
hospital or where she was[.]
F: [Y]eah she was in the hospital with her dad
who was having heart surgery[.]
M: [T]hat's right[.]
On 17 March 2003, defendant was indicted for one count each of
statutory rape, statutory sex offense, incest, and indecent
liberties with a child. A jury convicted defendant of each charge.
At sentencing, the trial court found no aggravating factors, but
found several factors in mitigation, including that defendant had
been honorably discharged from the military, supported his family,
had a support system in the community, and had a positive
employment history. Based on these findings, the trial court
entered a mitigated range sentence of 150 to 189 months
imprisonment for statutory rape, followed by a consecutive
mitigated sentence of 159 to 180 months imprisonment for the
remaining consolidated convictions. Defendant timely appealed to
 Defendant first argues that the trial court erred by
denying his motion for a bill of particulars providing the exact
dates and times of the alleged offenses. "The granting or denial
of a motion for a bill of particulars is a matter soundly within
the discretion of the trial court and is not subject to review
except in cases of palpable and gross abuse of discretion." State
, 358 N.C. 382, 390, 597 S.E.2d 724, 733 (2004), cert.
, 543 U.S. 1156, 161 L. Ed. 2d 122, 125 S. Ct. 1301 (2005).
, our Supreme Court noted that N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-
925(b) (2005) specifically requires that a motion for a bill of
particulars "'must allege that the defendant cannot adequately
prepare or conduct his defense
'" without the information requested
in the motion. Garcia
, 358 N.C. at 390, 597 S.E.2d at 732 (quoting
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-925(b)). The Court then found that this
criteria was not met when (1) the record did not indicate any
factual information later introduced at trial that was beyond
defendant's knowledge and necessary to enable defendant to
adequately prepare and conduct his defense, and (2) the State had
provided open-file discovery. Id.
, 597 S.E.2d at 733. See also
State v. Williams
, 355 N.C. 501, 542, 565 S.E.2d 609, 633 (2002)
(open-file discovery provided defendant with all information
necessary "to adequately prepare or conduct his defense"), cert.
, 537 U.S. 1125, 154 L. Ed. 2d 808, 123 S. Ct. 894 (2003).
In this case, defendant sought disclosure of the exact date,
place, and time that defendant was alleged to have committed eachof the offenses. Defendant was, however, provided with open-file
discovery. In addition, like the defendant in Garcia
here has not pointed to any factual information introduced at trial
that was not provided in discovery and was necessary to prepare his
defense. He does not argue that Mary's testimony or any of the
other evidence at trial was more specific regarding dates, times,
and places than the information made available in the course of
discovery. Defendant has, therefore, failed under Garcia
to demonstrate that the trial court abused its discretion
in denying the motion for a bill of particulars. See also State v.
, 141 N.C. App. 220, 232, 540 S.E.2d 794, 802 (2000)
(concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in
denying a motion for a bill of particulars when "[a]ll discoverable
information was made available to defendant," and the lack of
specificity as to the sexual offenses was the result of the age of
the victim at the time of the offenses and could not have been
cured by a bill of particulars), appeal dismissed and disc. review
, 353 N.C. 397, 547 S.E.2d 430 (2001); State v. Hines
N.C. App. 545, 551, 471 S.E.2d 109, 113 (1996) (although denied a
bill of particulars, defendant was not significantly impaired in
preparation of her defense because through discovery she received
enough of the requested information to adequately prepare her
case), disc. review improvidently allowed
, 345 N.C. 627, 481 S.E.2d
 Defendant next argues that the trial court erred by
allowing, on the first day of trial, the State's motion to amend
the dates specified in the indictment for statutory rape and
statutory sexual offense from "January 1998 through June 1998" to
"July 1998 through December 1998." When time is not an essential
element of the crime, "an amendment in the indictment relating to
the date of the offense is permissible since the amendment would
not substantially alter the charge set forth in the indictment."
State v. Campbell
, 133 N.C. App. 531, 535, 515 S.E.2d 732, 735,
disc. review denied
, 351 N.C. 111, 540 S.E.2d 370 (1999). See also
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-924(a)(4) (2005) ("Error as to a date or its
omission is not ground for . . . reversal of a conviction if time
was not of the essence with respect to the charge and the error or
omission did not mislead the defendant to his prejudice.").
The question presented by this assignment of error is whether
the date of the offenses is an essential element of the crimes. In
this case, both the statutory rape and the statutory sexual offense
charges required that the State prove Mary was 15 years of age or
younger at the time of the offense. See
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-
27.7A(a) (2005). Time was, therefore, essential to the State's
case only insofar as Mary must have been 13, 14, or 15 when the
charged offenses were committed.
Mary turned 16 on 16 February 1999. Thus, she would have been
15 both under the original dates of the indictment (January 1998
through June 1998) and under the amended dates of the indictment
(July 1998 through December 1998). Consequently, under eitherversion of the indictment, time was not of the essence to the
State's case and the amendment did not, therefore, substantially
alter the charge set forth in the original indictment. See State
, 151 N.C. App. 631, 637-38, 566 S.E.2d 776, 780 (2002)
(trial court did not err by allowing State to amend dates on
indecent liberties indictment because the expanded time frame did
not "'substantially alter the charge set forth in the indictment'"
(quoting State v. Brinson
, 337 N.C. 764, 767, 448 S.E.2d 822, 824
Defendant nevertheless argues that the amendment impaired his
ability to prepare an alibi defense. See Campbell
, 133 N.C. App.
at 535, 515 S.E.2d at 735 (noting that amending the date of offense
in an indictment may be prohibited if it deprives a defendant of
the opportunity to adequately present his defense). The incest
indictment, however, was never amended and charged defendant with
committing incest from "January 1998 through June 1999" _ an 18
month span that includes the entire 1998 calendar year. As a
result, defendant was already on notice that, if he wished to
present an alibi defense against charges of sexual misconduct with
Mary, he was going to have to address all of 1998. Defendant's
ability to prepare and present his defense was, therefore, not
impaired by the trial court's decision to allow the State's motion.
We are unpersuaded by defendant's argument that because he
admitted at trial to having incestuous sex with Mary in 2002, he
had no reason to present an alibi defense to the incest charge.
Defendant ignores the fact that the State's incest indictment, thejury instructions, and the verdict sheet all required that the jury
decide whether incest had occurred during the period "January 1998
through June 1999." Defendant's admission to incest in 2002 was,
therefore, immaterial, since he was not charged with committing
incest during that year.
Defendant argues alternatively that the trial court erred by
denying his subsequent motion for a continuance. The denial of a
motion to continue will be grounds for a new trial only if the
"denial was erroneous and [the defendant's] case was prejudiced as
a result . . . ." State v. Gardner
, 322 N.C. 591, 594, 369 S.E.2d
593, 596 (1988). To establish prejudice, "'a defendant must show
that he did not have ample time to confer with counsel and to
investigate, prepare and present his defense. . . . To demonstrate
that the time allowed was inadequate, the defendant must show how
his case would have been better prepared had the continuance been
granted or that he was materially prejudiced by the denial of his
, 355 N.C. at 540-41, 565 S.E.2d at 632 (quoting
State v. Tunstall
, 334 N.C. 320, 329, 432 S.E.2d 331, 337 (1993)
Here, defendant makes no argument explaining, given the incest
charge, how his defense would have been better prepared or more
persuasive had the continuance been granted. He has, therefore,
failed to establish prejudice. See, e.g.
at 540, 565 S.E.2d
at 632 ("Defendant has shown no evidence that the lack of
additional time prejudiced his case."); State v. Massey
, 316 N.C.
558, 573, 342 S.E.2d 811, 820 (1986) (finding no error when
defendant made no serious argument how his expert's testimony"could have been more favorable or persuasive if he had been
granted a continuance"); State v. Jones
, 172 N.C. App. 308, 312,
616 S.E.2d 15, 19 (2005) (finding no error when "defendant failed
to articulate, either at trial or on appeal, how a continuance
would have helped him").
Moreover, our review of the trial transcript shows that
defendant did in fact present alibi evidence tending to show that
he had few opportunities to engage in sexual activity with Mary in
1998. Defendant offered testimony that Mary never went on any of
defendant's work trips prior to the Baltimore trip in 2002, that
Mary never visited defendant's residence without at least one of
the other children, and that Mary did not move in with defendant
until early 1999 _ a date after the dates alleged for the statutory
rape and statutory sex offense charges.
In sum, given defendant's notice, as a result of the incest
indictment, that he ought to put on an alibi defense for all of
1998, and defendant's actual ability to present a defense, we hold
that the trial court's denial of defendant's motion for a
continuance did not prohibit or deprive defendant of an opportunity
to present a defense. See State v. Sills
, 311 N.C. 370, 375, 317
S.E.2d 379, 382 (1984) (variance between the date alleged in the
indictment and the date shown by the evidence was not prejudicial,
as defendant presented alibi evidence for several days both before
and after the alleged offense); State v. Cameron
, 83 N.C. App. 69,
73, 349 S.E.2d 327, 330 (1986) (when defendant "was well aware" of
time frame during which State alleged he had committed incest,defendant "was not deprived of an opportunity to prepare and
present a defense as to that period of time, notwithstanding the
variance in the dates thereof contained in the State's evidence").
These assignments of error are, therefore, overruled.
 Defendant next challenges the trial court's decision to
admit two photographs into evidence. Both photographs were taken
many years before trial, with one showing a nine-year-old foster
daughter and the second showing a one- or two-year-old foster
daughter. No one knew who took the photographs, although they were
taken with one of the Whitmans' cameras, and Mary removed them from
defendant's home. Defendant argues on appeal only that the
photographs were irrelevant and, in any event, unfairly prejudicial
due to their debatably sexual nature.
(See footnote 2)
Relevant evidence is "evidence having any tendency to make the
existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination
of the action more probable or less probable than it would be
without the evidence." N.C.R. Evid. 401. "Although relevant,
evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially
outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice . . . ." N.C.R. Evid.
403. "Whether the use of photographic evidence is more probative
than prejudicial . . . lies within the discretion of the trialcourt. An abuse of discretion will be found only if the trial
court's ruling is manifestly unsupported by reason or is so
arbitrary it could not have been the result of a reasoned
decision." State v. Creech
, 128 N.C. App. 592, 595-96, 495 S.E.2d
752, 755 (omission in original) (internal citation and quotation
marks omitted), disc. review denied
, 348 N.C. 285, 501 S.E.2d 921
The State contended at a hearing on the admissibility of the
photographs that the pictures were relevant to show that Mary's
true motive in coming forward was "concern about [her] sisters"
and not to extort money from defendant, as was suggested by the
defense. Mary testified that "the main reason" she came forward
with the allegations was the safety of the other children, and she
suggested she had taken the photographs with her when she moved out
in 2002 and then later turned them over to the State's attorney in
order to justify her concerns.
The fact Mary took these photographs with her was relevant to
her motives for coming forward with her allegations of sexual
abuse, and, therefore, the photographs were admissible. See State
, 113 N.C. App. 368, 374, 438 S.E.2d 453, 457 (trial
court did not err by admitting photographs, seized from defendant's
residence, showing witness in a state of undress to corroborate
witness' claim that defendant was attempting to blackmail her to
keep her from testifying at defendant's trial), appeal dismissed
and disc. review denied
, 336 N.C. 75, 445 S.E.2d 39 (1994).
Further, having reviewed the photographs on appeal, we note thatthey are not necessarily sexually suggestive, but rather could have
been viewed by the jury as relatively benign. As a result, we
cannot conclude that the trial court's decision not to exclude them
under Rule 403 was either "manifestly unsupported by reason" or "so
arbitrary it could not have been the result of a reasoned
decision." State v. Syriani
, 333 N.C. 350, 379, 428 S.E.2d 118,
133, cert. denied
, 510 U.S. 948, 126 L. Ed. 2d 341, 114 S. Ct. 392
(1993). Accordingly, this assignment of error is overruled.
 Defendant next contends that the trial court erred by
denying his motion to dismiss the charges for insufficiency of the
evidence. Such a motion should be denied if there is substantial
evidence: (1) of each essential element of the offense charged and
(2) of defendant's being the perpetrator of the offense. State v.
, 356 N.C. 591, 595, 573 S.E.2d 866, 868 (2002). Substantial
evidence is that amount of relevant evidence necessary to persuade
a rational juror to accept a conclusion. Id.
at 597, 573 S.E.2d at
869. On review of a denial of a motion to dismiss, this Court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, giving
the State the benefit of all reasonable inferences. Id.
573 S.E.2d at 869. Contradictions and discrepancies do not warrant
dismissal of the case, but, rather, are for the jury to resolve.
Defendant does not specifically challenge the quantum of
evidence presented on any element of the crimes with which he wascharged. Instead, defendant's sole argument on this issue is that,
with respect to each charge, "[t]here is no evidence . . . except
the claim[s] of [Mary] . . . . There is no physical evidence and
no medical evidence." After detailing Mary's past sexual abuse
prior to her placement with the Whitmans, her disciplinary
problems, and her attempted suicide, defendant then states in his
What about [defendant]? He received an
honorable discharge from the Army. He served
combat duty in Vietnam. He worked with U.P.S.
for 33 years before he retired. He was Chief
of the Lebanon Fire Department. He had no
(Citations omitted and emphasis original.) Therefore, according to
defendant, the trial court "should have dismissed the charges"
because "[w]ith this vast evidence against a conclusion of guilt,
. . . [Mary's] testimony . . . does not rise to more than a
suspicion, if even that."
This argument warrants little discussion. "The credibility of
witnesses is a matter for the jury except where the testimony is
inherently incredible and in conflict with the physical conditions
established by the State's own evidence." State v. Begley
, 72 N.C.
App. 37, 43, 323 S.E.2d 56, 60 (1984). Defendant has pointed to
nothing to suggest Mary's testimony was inherently incredible based
on the laws of nature. See State v. Lester
, 294 N.C. 220, 225, 240
S.E.2d 391, 396 (1978) (when sole evidence supporting the charge is
"physically impossible and contrary to the laws of nature" it is
"inherently incredible" and a trial court may grant defendant's
motion to dismiss). It would not have been proper for the trialcourt _ and is not proper for this Court _ to accept defendant's
invitation to weigh the backgrounds of the alleged victim and
defendant and conclude as a matter of law that the alleged victim
cannot be believed. The argument is one for the jury; it is
inappropriate on appeal.
(See footnote 3)
It is equally well-settled that the testimony of a single
witness is adequate to withstand a motion to dismiss when that
witness has testified as to all the required elements of the crimes
at issue. See, e.g.
at 225-26, 240 S.E.2d at 396 ("The
unsupported testimony of an accomplice, if believed, is sufficient
to support a conviction."); State v. Ferguson
, 105 N.C. App. 692,
696, 414 S.E.2d 769, 771 (1992) (concluding defendant was not
entitled to dismissal of impaired driving charges when only police
officer to testify as to defendant's actions was, according to
defendant, "not credible because of lack of memory concerning the
incident, missing notes, and a missing alcohol information sheet").
Because a jury was entitled to choose to believe Mary, the trial
court properly denied defendant's motion to dismiss based on her
 Finally, defendant argues that the trial court erred by
improperly coercing the jury to render its verdict. Every person
charged with a crime has an absolute right to a fair trial and animpartial jury. State v. Jones
, 292 N.C. 513, 521, 234 S.E.2d 555,
559 (1977). Accordingly, "a trial judge has no right to coerce a
verdict, and a charge which might reasonably be construed by a
juror as requiring him to surrender his well-founded convictions or
judgment to the views of the majority is erroneous." State v.
, 295 N.C. 608, 614, 247 S.E.2d 888, 892 (1978). In
determining whether a trial court's actions are coercive, an
appellate court must look to the totality of the circumstances.
State v. Dexter
, 151 N.C. App. 430, 433, 566 S.E.2d 493, 496, aff'd
, 356 N.C. 604, 572 S.E.2d 782 (2002).
Defendant points to the trial judge's remarks to the jury
immediately before the jurors began deliberations. After noting
that it was 4:35 or 4:40 p.m., the trial judge told the jury that
he was still going to give the jury "an opportunity to deliberate."
He then stated:
One of the first things I need for you to
do, Mr. Foreman, is to find out what the jury
wishes to do as far as how long you want to
deliberate. I knew we would run into this
problem. I told the members of the jury
earlier that I wasn't going to request you
stay past 5 o'clock unless I gave you 24
hours. So if the jury wants to do that, we'll
consider that to some extent. It might be
that the best position may be to see if you
can reach a verdict before 5:00. And if you
can't, you might want to consider coming back
tomorrow. So I will bring you back at 5
o'clock, if you haven't had a decision before
5:00, so I can figure out what the jury wants
The other thing is, probably _ let me say
it now before I forget it _ is that there is
the possibility of some bad weather, once
again, for tomorrow. And everything that I've
heard is they don't expect it to be bad, whichis bad, because every time they don't expect
it to be bad, it gets bad; and every time they
expect it to be real bad, it's never real bad.
So y'all take that into consideration. But my
position won't change a whole lot. If there's
bad weather, we're going to follow what the
schools follow, the same way we did last time.
But if you haven't kept up with the weather,
you just need to be aware of that.
. . . .
. . . . All right. Then once the Deputy
gives you the sheets, you can go in the back.
And don't forget, now, I'm going to bring you
back at 5:00, whether you _ unless you come
back earlier, so we can discuss what you want
In sum, the trial judge acknowledged that he had previously
promised the jurors that they would have a day's advance
they would be required to stay past 5:00 p.m. and that there was a
possibility of inclement weather. As he had on a prior day, the
trial judge told the jury what he would do if the weather was bad
the following day. He then advised the jurors that he would have
them return at 5:00 p.m., if they had not reached a verdict, to
discuss what they wished to do. The jurors had a choice if they
were unable to reach a verdict before 5:00 p.m.: to stay later that
evening or go home _ potentially skip a day due to inclement
weather _ and then return. We do not read these remarks of the
trial judge, discussing practical aspects of deliberating late in
the day in the face of potential inclement weather, as risking a
Defendant, however, points to the fact that the jury returned
its verdict in 18 minutes as suggesting the verdict was coerced.
In State v. Spangler
, 314 N.C. 374, 378, 333 S.E.2d 722, 725(1985), the jury returned a verdict finding the defendant guilty of
first degree murder in 15 minutes. Our Supreme Court concluded
that "shortness of time in deliberating a verdict in a criminal
case, in and of itself, simply does not constitute grounds for
setting aside a verdict." Id.
at 388, 333 S.E.2d at 731. A jury's
need for little time to reach a verdict may simply reflect the
nature of the evidence, which, in this case, included a
particularly inculpatory transcript between Mary and defendant.
Since defendant does not point to anything else in the record
suggesting that the verdict was coerced, we overrule this
assignment of error as well.
Chief Judge MARTIN and Judge WYNN concur.