STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v. Rutherford County
No. 03 CRS 52373
CRAIG DEVRIES CURTIS
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General C.
Norman Young, Jr., for the State.
David Childers for defendant-appellant.
MARTIN, Chief Judge.
Defendant Craig Devries Curtis was indicted for first-degree
murder. A jury returned a verdict of guilty, and defendant was
sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. He
The State presented evidence which tended to show that Craig Devries Curtis (defendant) met Lisa Strong when he was nineteen years old and she was thirty-five years old. The two dated for three years before moving to Rutherford County, North Carolina in 2001.
On 12 May 2003, Detectives Ron Bailey and Mike Hollifield of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department interviewed defendantwhile investigating a missing person's report filed regarding Strong. Curtis told the officers that he had last seen Strong on 1 May 2003. He told them that she had left their trailer to go dancing with a black man in a large white car. He said they had an open relationship and would see other people. Defendant further stated that he had gone to look for Strong at her place of employment, but she had not been there. He said he called relatives in Massachusetts to see if they knew where she was but was unable to reach anyone. Defendant claimed that Strong had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and was currently smoking crack cocaine. Defendant also told the officers that, on 3 May 2003, he came home and found some of Strong's property had been removed.
On 20 May 2003, Detective Bailey questioned defendant a second time . Defendant told the police that, on 30 April 2003, he had gotten into an argument with Strong over her use of crack cocaine. He told Detective Bailey that during the course of the argument, he had pushed her, and she tripped and fell. He claimed that Strong landed on a knife lying on some boots, which stuck into the back of her head. She died shortly afterwards, and he buried her the next day. Following the interview, defendant took police to Strong's grave.
On 21 May 2003, defendant gave another statement to police. Defendant told police that the only wound on Lisa Strong's head would be the knife wound. However, an autopsy revealed that the cause of Strong's death was two gunshot wounds. T he bulletsfound in Strong's head were similar to bullets found in a pistol located in the defendant's van.
Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Defendant appeals.
Defendant argues the trial court erred when it refused to allow Dr. Faye Sultan, an expert in clinical psychology, to testify regarding what she learned about the defendant's background and his state of mind at the time of the crime. At trial, Dr. Sultan testified that she had looked at defendant's school records. When asked what she had learned from the records, the State objected, and the trial court sustained the objection. When questioned regarding the relationship between defendant and Strong, Dr. Sultan testified about the alleged events that led to her death. Dr. Sultan stated that: As has been true for Mr. Curtis at other times in his life when emotion got too intense he simply exploded, and this time - - -. At this juncture, the State again objected and the trial court again sustained the objection. Defendant contends that these rulings by the trial court prevented the jury from hearing relevant evidence that likely would have resulted in a different verdict. Specifically, defendant claims that the proffered evidence regarding his state of mind would have lessened the jury's perception about his degree of culpability. Accordingly, defendant requests a new trial.
We decline to review defendant's argument.
It is well established that an exception to the exclusion of evidence cannot be sustained where the record fails to show what thewitness' testimony would have been had he been permitted to testify. [I]n order for a party to preserve for appellate review the exclusion of evidence, the significance of the excluded evidence must be made to appear in the record and a specific offer of proof is required unless the significance of the evidence is obvious from the record.
State v. Golphin, 352 N.C. 364, 462, 533 S.E.2d 168, 231-32 (2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 931, 149 L. Ed. 2d 305 (2001)(citations omitted). In the instant case, defendant failed to make an offer of proof of what Dr. Sultan would have testified to, and the substance of her testimony is not apparent from the record. Accordingly, defendant has waived this argument and the assignment of error is overruled.
Judges BRYANT and GEER concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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