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1. Sentencing_noncapital_Confrontation Clause_not violated
Hearsay testimony at a noncapital sentencing hearing that a witness had been offered a bribe by defendant did not violate the Confrontation Clause. The standard outlined in State v. Bell, 359 N.C. 1, was clearly intended only for capital sentencing hearings and is not extended to noncapital hearings.
2. Sentencing_evidence_witness's fear of defendant
There was no error in a sentencing hearing where testimony was admitted that a witness had left town because of fear of defendant. The Rules of Evidence do not apply to sentencing hearings.
Attorney General Roy A. Cooper, III, by Special Deputy
Attorney General Gary R. Govert, for the State.
Appellate Defender Staples Hughes, by Assistant Appellate Defender Benjamin Dowling-Sendor, for defendant-appellant.
Stepen (See footnote 1) Kernal Sings (defendant) appeals from a judgment sentencing him to 140 to 177 months' imprisonment for voluntarymanslaughter. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
On 27 April 2005, defendant entered a plea of no contest to a charge of voluntary manslaughter for the shooting of Nicholas McKay (decedent). Under his plea agreement, defendant also stipulated to a Prior Record Level of IV and to three aggravating factors alleged in the indictment. Further, the agreement stated that counsel for both defendant and the State would present evidence about the appropriate sentence, which the agreement explicitly stated would be within the presumptive or aggravated range.
At defendant's sentencing hearing, the court admitted testimony by Lamont McGuiness (McGuiness), cousin to decedent and the only eyewitness to the crime. Two pieces of testimony were admitted over defendant's objections: First, that some time after the shooting, defendant offered McGuiness $1,000.00 not to testify against him (via an intermediary), and second, that McGuiness left Charlotte after the shooting because he was afraid defendant would hire someone to kill him.
The State also presented evidence as to the three aggravating factors included in the plea agreement: (1) at the time of the shooting, defendant was on pretrial release for a charge of cocaine trafficking, (2) defendant was on pretrial release for a charge of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, and (3) decedent was a witness against defendant in connection with the latter charge. Defendant was sentenced in the aggravated range toimprisonment for 140 to 177 months. Defendant appeals that sentence.
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