Appeal by juvenile from order entered 17 November 2005 by
Judge Dennis J. Redwing in Gaston County District Court. Heard in
the Court of Appeals 16 April 2007.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney
General Jane Hautin, for the State.
D. Tucker Charns for defendant-appellant.
K.M.M., a juvenile, appeals from a final disposition order
committing him to the Department of Juvenile Justice for an
indefinite term, a Level 3 disposition. K.M.M.'s sole contention
on appeal is that the trial court abused its discretion by failing
to find that K.M.M.'s extraordinary needs justified the imposition
of a Level 2 disposition. As there is no basis to conclude that
the trial court's decision to impose a Level 3 disposition was
manifestly unsupported by reason, we affirm.
K.M.M. was initially adjudicated delinquent on 27 June 2005
following his admission to a misdemeanor breaking and entering
occurring on 28 April 2005. K.M.M. was placed on six months
probation, to run from 25 July 2005 until 24 January 2006. TheState subsequently filed juvenile petitions alleging three
additional offenses occurring either while K.M.M.'s prior case was
pending or while he was on probation.
First, the State alleged that on 20 June 2005, K.M.M. broke
into an occupied residence in the middle of the night and stole a
video game system along with several games. Second, on 5 August
2005, K.M.M. was purportedly discovered while in possession of an
"explosive and incendiary" device called an "acid bomb." Third, on
17 August 2005, K.M.M. allegedly stole a pair of earrings from a
store. At adjudication hearings on 22 August and 6 October 2005,
K.M.M. admitted to all of the State's charges and was, accordingly,
adjudicated delinquent for first degree burglary, possession of a
weapon of mass destruction, and misdemeanor larceny.
The trial court conducted a disposition hearing on these new
offenses on 17 November 2005. In the resulting disposition order,
the court found that K.M.M. had three delinquency points, had a
current offense level of medium, and had been adjudicated
delinquent for a "violent" offense with respect to the first degree
burglary charge. The court imposed a Level 3 disposition,
committing K.M.M. to the Department of Juvenile Justice for an
indefinite term. K.M.M. timely appealed to this Court.
K.M.M. argues on appeal only that the trial court abused its
discretion in failing to find that K.M.M. had extraordinary needs
that justified a Level 2 disposition. The trial judge in this case
imposed a Level 3 disposition after finding that "there [was] noevidence of extraordinary needs which would allow the court to
impose a Level 2 Disposition pursuant to 7B-2508(e)."
The Juvenile Code requires the court to "select a disposition
that is designed to protect the public and to meet the needs and
best interests of the juvenile . . . ." N.C. Gen. Stat. §
7B-2501(c) (2005). The court is required to impose a level of
punishment, labeled disposition level 1, 2, or 3, depending on the
juvenile's delinquency history and the type of offense committed.
In re Robinson
, 151 N.C. App. 733, 737, 567 S.E.2d 227, 229 (2002).
If the delinquency history chart set out in N.C. Gen. Stat. §
7B-2508(f) (2005) prescribes a Level 3 disposition, the court is
required to commit the juvenile for placement in a youth
development center. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2508(e). Nevertheless,
"a court may impose a Level 2 disposition rather than a Level 3
disposition if the court submits written findings on the record
that substantiate extraordinary needs on the part of the offending
The decision whether to impose Level 2 or Level 3
punishment is within the discretion of the trial judge, whose
ruling will not disturbed unless it is shown that it could not have
been the product of a reasoned decision. Robinson
, 151 N.C. App.
at 737, 567 S.E.2d at 229.
At the disposition hearing, K.M.M.'s counselor, Wallace Owens,
testified that he believed a prior Level 2 placement had been
inadequate because K.M.M. required "more structure" and that
K.M.M.'s needs would be better met at a Level 3 facility.
Additionally, the trial judge considered Mr. Owens' risk assessmentreport, which indicated that K.M.M. had repeatedly left his
mother's home without permission, had been stealing from his foster
care mother's home and children, had been repeatedly suspended from
school for disruptive behavior, and was disrespectful towards
authority. A psychological evaluation by psychologist Stephen C.
Strzelecki "highly recommended" that K.M.M. see a psychiatrist to
determine whether K.M.M. would benefit from medication to address
his issues with "impulse control, explosive behavior, and
aggression." Even though the family was offered assistance with
psychiatric treatment, K.M.M.'s mother refused to go forward with
it because of an objection to K.M.M.'s potentially being placed on
We cannot conclude, based on this evidence, that the trial
court abused its discretion by declining to order a Level 2
disposition. K.M.M.'s needs for a "structured environment,
affection and therapy," while important, do not mandate a finding
of extraordinary needs such that the trial court abused its
discretion by failing to order a Level 2 disposition, particularly
in light of Mr. Owens' testimony that the structure provided by a
Level 3 was more appropriate for K.M.M.'s needs. Although
defendant urges us to adopt a different interpretation of the
evidence, it is the sole duty of the trial judge to determine the
credibility of the witnesses, the weight to be accorded to their
testimony, and what inferences shall be drawn from the evidence.
In re Gleisner
, 141 N.C. App. 475, 480, 539 S.E.2d 362, 365 (2000). We, therefore, affirm.
(See footnote 1)
Judges WYNN and ELMORE concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).