STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v. Guilford County
No. 02 CRS 87990
DEWERREN LIEWASE TITUS
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General
Marc X. Sneed, for the State.
Stubbs, Cole, Breedlove, Prentis & Biggs, PLLC, by C. Scott Holmes, for defendant-appellant.
Dewerren Liewase Titus (defendant) was convicted of two counts
of trafficking in controlled substances. The evidence at trial
tended to show that
the High Point Police Department received
information on 13 June 2002 regarding a possible drug transaction
that was supposed to take place near a park in the 1500 block of
Blain Street. Detective Jason Henderson and Officer R.E. Thomas
set up a surveillance team to observe the transaction. Detective
Henderson drove an unmarked vehicle to a side street where he could
observe the 1500 block of Blain Street. A Ford Taurus driven by a
female, and carrying a passenger, arrived and parked in the 1500
block of Blain Street. About fifteen minutes later, a Buick drivenby defendant arrived and parked directly behind the Ford Taurus.
The passenger in the Ford Taurus, Anthony Ingram (Ingram), got out
of the Ford Taurus and into the Buick. Officer Thomas signaled for
all the officers in the area to move in and surround the Buick. As
the officers did so, both defendant and Ingram exited the Buick and
ran in opposite directions. Defendant jumped out of the driver's
side window without opening the door. However, defendant only took
a few steps before an officer tackled him to the ground. As the
officer tackled defendant, Detective Henderson saw a small package
go into the air and come down in the street. Detective Henderson
retrieved the package from the street. He testified that it looked
like the package contained crack cocaine. The substance later
tested positive for 52 5/10 grams of crack cocaine.
Defendant was convicted of two counts of trafficking in cocaine and was sentenced to a term of thirty-five to forty-two months in prison. Defendant appeals.
Defendant first argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Prior to trial, his attorney filed a motion to compel the disclosure of the identity of a confidential informant and a motion to suppress. However, his counsel never sought a hearing on the motions. At trial, Ingram was identified as the confidential informant. Defendant claims that the trial court would have likely granted the motion to reveal the identity of the confidential informant because Ingram had participated in the drug transaction. Defendant further argues that the information could have affected the outcome of the trial because the jury was particularlyinterested in Ingram's involvement, as evidenced by several questions raised by jurors during their deliberations.
To obtain relief for ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must demonstrate that his "counsel's conduct fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." State v. Braswell, 312 N.C. 553, 561-62, 324 S.E.2d 241, 247-48 (1985) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, reh'g denied, 467 U.S. 1267, 82 L. Ed. 2d 864 (1984)). This requires a showing that: (1) "'counsel's performance was deficient'"; and (2) "'that the deficient performance prejudiced the [defendant's] defense.'" Braswell at 562, 324 S.E.2d at 248 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 80 L. Ed. 2d at 693).
In this case, defendant argues his counsel was deficient by failing to have his motions to suppress and to reveal the identity of the confidential informant ruled on by the trial court. First, in regard to the motion to suppress, defendant failed to put forth any argument demonstrating how his counsel was deficient by failing to obtain a ruling by the trial court on the motion, or how he was prejudiced. Second, in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt , defendant can show no prejudice from the failure to learn Ingram's identity prior to trial. At trial, the State presented evidence that Ingram, the female driver, and the Ford Taurus were all searched prior to the meeting with defendant, and no contraband was found. After defendant was arrested, Ingram was searched again and still no contraband was found. Furthermore, when police surrounded the Buick, defendant attempted to flee. When defendantwas apprehended by police, Detective Henderson witnessed defendant throw a small package into the air which was later found to contain crack cocaine. There was overwhelming evidence of defendant's guilt, and defendant can show no prejudice from his counsel's failure to obtain a ruling on the motion to reveal Ingram's identity as the confidential informant. Accordingly, this assignment of error is overruled.
Defendant next argues that the trial court erred by admitting a police report into evidence. The police report was admitted after there was some conflict over the timeline of the events leading to defendant's arrest. The police report contained a summary of the events, but also summarized the conduct of several of the officers involved. Defendant asserts that the report was not necessary to establish times or chain of custody.
The evidence objected to by defendant was properly admitted as a prior consistent statement. It is well-established in our State that "[a] witness's prior consistent statements may be admitted to corroborate the witness's courtroom testimony." State v. Harrison, 328 N.C. 678, 681, 403 S.E.2d 301, 303 (1991)(citing State v. Holden, 321 N.C. 125, 143, 362 S.E.2d 513, 526 (1987), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1061, 100 L. Ed. 2d 935 (1988)). "Corroborative testimony is testimony which tends to strengthen, confirm, or make more certain the testimony of another witness." State v. Rogers, 299 N.C. 597, 601, 264 S.E.2d 89, 92 (1980). Whether a prior statement in fact corroborates the testimony at trial is a question for the jury after proper instructions from the trial court. SeeState v. Burns, 307 N.C. 224, 231-32, 297 S.E.2d 384, 388 (1982). Here, the police report was largely consistent with Officer Thomas' testimony, and the trial court instructed the jury that the evidence should be considered for corroborative purposes only. However, even assuming arguendo that admission of the police record was error, we conclude that it was not prejudicial error in light of the overwhelming evidence of defendant's guilt. Accordingly, we find no prejudicial error.
No prejudicial error.
Judges WYNN and HUNTER concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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