Defendant assigns error to the denial of his motion to dismiss
made at the close of all the evidence. When considering a motion
to dismiss, the trial court must view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the State, giving the State the benefit of all
reasonable inferences. State v. Morgan
, 359 N.C. 131, 161, 604
S.E.2d 886, 904 (2004). If substantial evidence exists to support
each essential element of the crime charged and that defendant was
the perpetrator, it is proper for the trial court to deny the
motion . Id
. Substantial evidence is 'such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'
State v. Earnhardt
, 307 N.C. 62, 66, 296 S.E.2d 649, 252
(1982)(quoting State v. Smith
, 300 N.C. 71, 78-79, 265 S.E.2d 164,
169 (1980)). The trial court's function is to determine whether
the evidence allows a 'reasonable inference
' to be drawn as to the
defendant's guilt of the crimes charged. Id
. at 67, 296 S.E.2d
649, 296 S.E.2d at 652 (quoting State v. Thomas
, 296 N.C. 236,
244-45, 250 S.E.2d 204, 209 (1978)). Any inference should be drawn
in the light most favorable to the prosecution, and contradictions
and discrepancies do not warrant dismissal of the case-they are for
the jury to resolve. Id
. at 67, 296 S.E.2d at 653.
To survive a defendant's motion to dismiss for insufficient
evidence, the State must offer substantial evidence of every
element of the crime. State v. Bethea
, 156 N.C. App. 167, 170-71,
575 S.E.2d 831, 834 (2003). The crime of obtaining property by
false pretenses consists of the following elements: '(1) a false
representation of a subsisting fact or a future fulfillment or
event, (2) which is calculated and intended to deceive, (3) which
does in fact deceive, and (4) by which one person obtains or
attempts to obtain value from another.' State v. Parker
, 354 N.C.
268, 284, 553 S.E.2d 885, 897 (2001) (quoting State v. Cronin
N.C. 229, 242, 262 S.E.2d 277, 286 (1980)); see also
Stat. § 14-100 (2003).
Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence
indicates that the defendant drove to the homes of both Mr. Sainand Mrs. Grindstaff, telling each of them that his truck had broken
down and that he needed money to tow it. After obtaining money
from Mrs. Grindstaff for that purpose, promising to repay her, he
sought to obtain money from Mr. Sain based on the same story.
Defendant never repaid the money to Mrs. Grindstaff. From the
evidence, the jury could infer that defendant's story was a
fabrication by which he intended to deceive Mrs. Grindstaff and
obtain money from her. Any evidence, whether direct,
circumstantial, or both, suffices for the case to be sent to the
jury, State v. King
, 343 N.C. 29, 36, 468 S.E.2d 232, 237 (1996),
and any contradictions and discrepancies in the evidence were for
the finder of fact to reconcile. State v. Powell
, 299 N.C. 95,
101, 261 S.E.2d 114, 119 (1980). Therefore, the trial court did
not err in denying the defendant's motion at the close of all the
Defendant also argues the trial court erred in sustaining the
State's objections to evidence which he sought to present. He
contends the evidence was relevant to the issues of the falsity of
his statements and his intent to repay Mrs. Grindstaff.
Relevant evidence is admissible, except as specifically
provided by law. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1, Rule 402 (2003). See
also State v. Streckfuss
, 171 N.C. App. 81, 88, 614 S.E.2d 323, 327
(2005). 'Relevant evidence' means 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. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1, Rule 401(2003). Our Supreme Court has interpreted Rule 401 broadly and .
. . [has] explained on a number of occasions that in a criminal
case every circumstance calculated to throw any light upon the
supposed crime is admissible and permissible. State v. Collins,
335 N.C. 729, 735, 440 S.E.2d 559, 562 (1994) (citations omitted).
Evidence is relevant if it has any logical tendency, however
slight, to prove a fact in issue. In criminal cases, every
circumstance that is calculated to throw any light upon the
supposed crime is admissible. The weight of such evidence is for
the jury. State v. Smith
, 357 N.C. 604, 613-14, 588 S.E.2d 453,
460 (2003) (internal quotes and citations omitted).
The trial court must determine if the proposed evidence has
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. Gen.
Stat. § 8C-1, Rule 401 (2003). [A] trial court's rulings on
relevancy . . . are not discretionary and therefore are not
reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard . . . . State v.
, 104 N.C. App. 498, 502, 410 S.E.2d 226, 228 (1991), disc.
, 331 N.C. 290, 416 S.E.2d 398 (1992), cert denied,
506 U.S. 915, 113 S.Ct. 321, 121 L. Ed. 2d 241 (1992)(citations
State v. Fair
, 354 N.C. 131, 150, 557 S.E.2d 500, 515
(2001) (stating that jury should not be prohibited from hearing
evidence that is in any way connected with the matter in issue or
evidence from which any inference of the disputed fact can
reasonably be drawn.); State v. McCraw
, 300 N.C. 610, 618-19, 268S.E.2d 173, 178 (1980)(same); c.f. State v. Brown
, 350 N.C. 193,
209, 513 S.E.2d 57, 67 (1999) (stating, in dicta, that rulings on
relevancy are subject to an abuse of discretion standard).
Nevertheless, such rulings are given great deference on appeal.
State v. Grant
, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___, 632
S.E.2d 258, 265 (2006); State v. Oakley
, 167 N.C. App. 318, 320,
605 S.E.2d 215, 217 (2004); State v. Mitchell
, 135 N.C. App. 617,
620, 522 S.E.2d 94, 96 (1999) (rulings on relevancy not
Defendant attempted to introduce into evidence a one page GMAC
insurance document listing defendant was the named insured on a
policy covering a 1980 Chevrolet truck. He offered the exhibit to
show his ownership of such a truck. The trial court excluded the
exhibit. We conclude the relevance of the document to the issue of
defendant's ownership of the truck was so attenuated that exclusion
of the document was not error. The assignment of error directed to
the exclusion of such evidence is overruled.
Defendant also argues that the trial court erred in allowing
neither himself nor his father to testify about alleged
conversations they had the evening of 19 April relating to
repayment of the money to Mrs. Grindstaff
. [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.
, 352 N.C. 364, 462, 533 S.E.2d 168, 231 (2000) (citationsomitted). In the instant case, defendant made no offer of proof
with respect to the senior Mr. Parker's potential testimony, and
the substance of his testimony is made apparent only from the
representations in defendant's brief and not from the record.
Accordingly, defendant has not preserved this issue for review, and
we do not address it.
Defendant assigns error to the trial court's ruling sustaining
the State's objection to testimony which defendant's counsel sought
to elicit from defendant concerning his state of mind at the time
of the alleged offense. Defendant made no offer of proof at trial.
However, in Golphin
, 352 N.C.
at 462, 533 S.E.2d at 231,
Supreme Court held that a specific offer of proof was not required
where the significance of the evidence was obvious from the record.
See State v. Hamilton
, 351 N.C. 14, 19, 519 S.E.2d 514, 518
(1999)(Although the record does not contain an offer of what . .
. [the witnesses'] response might have been to defendant's proposed
question, the significance of the evidence is obvious . . . .).
In the present case, the record shows that the defendant
attempted to testify that the day after he took the money from Mrs.
Grindstaff, he talked to his father, who told him that he would
take the money to Mrs. Grindstaff. The State's objection to this
testimony and to defendant's testimony with respect to his intent
at the time he accepted the money from her, was sustained. Even in
the absence of a formal offer of proof, the context of the
testimony, combined with the start of the defendant's answer before
he was cut off by the trial court made the substance of the[excluded] evidence . . . apparent.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1, Rule
order to convict the defendant of obtaining property by
false pretenses, the State was required to prove, inter alia
a false representation of a subsisting fact or a future fulfillment
. . . . State v. Ledwell
, 171 N.C. App. 314, 317, 614
S.E.2d 562, 565 (2005)(emphasis added). In other words, the
defendant must have falsely represented his contemporaneous
- his intent at the time of making the false representation. In
these circumstances, defendant's state of mind at the time of the
allegedly false representation was relevant and the trial court
erred in not permitting the defendant to testify to his state of
mind, because it goes to the heart of the criminal conduct. See
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-100(b)(2003) (Evidence of nonfulfillment of
a contract obligation standing alone shall not establish the
essential element of intent to defraud.).
Having found error, we must next determine whether such error
was prejudicial. The first step is classifying the nature of the
error. The defendant argues that the restriction of his testimony
violates his Due Process rights, his Confrontation Clause rights,
and his right to counsel under both the North Carolina and United
States Constitutions. However, he did not raise constitutional
issues at the trial court level. As a result, the trial court
could not consider and correct the purported error. Since it is
well settled that constitutional matters that are not raised and
passed upon at trial will not be reviewed for the first time onappeal, State v. Garcia
, 358 N.C. 382, 420, 597 S.E.2d 724, 750
(2004), we cannot consider the defendant's constitutional arguments
and must address any errors as mistakes in evidentiary rulings.
The burden is on the defendant to prove that a trial error not
arising from rights vested under the Constitution of the United
States is prejudicial. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1443(a) (2003); see
also State v. Hyman,
153 N.C. App. 396, 402, 570 S.E.2d 745, 749
(2002). Prejudice is shown when there is a reasonable possibility
that, had the error in question not been committed, a different
result would have been reached at the trial. State v. Allen
N.C. 504, 509, 546 S.E.2d 372, 375 (2001); N.C. Gen. Stat. §
15A-1443(a)(2003); see also State v. Millsaps
, 169 N.C. App. 340,
347, 610 S.E.2d 437, 442 (2005).
We examine the exclusion of defendant's testimony with respect
to his thought processes at the time of the alleged offense against
this backdrop. The pivotal issue in this case was whether the
defendant made a false statement to Mrs. Grindstaff with the
intention of defrauding her. The State showed that the defendant
obtained $30.00 from Mrs. Grindstaff by telling her his truck had
broken down. The State also showed that the defendant then went to
another house and repeated the same story, seeking additional money
under the same guise. Under these circumstances, which were
unrefuted, defendant cannot show that the exclusion of his self-
serving statement that he intended to repay Mrs. Grindstaff had a
probable impact on the jury's verdict. N.C. Gen. Stat. §15A-1443(a). Therefore, any error in excluding the testimony was
not prejudicial and does not warrant a new trial.
No Prejudicial Error.
Judges ELMORE and JACKSON concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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