Return to nccourts.org
Return to the Opinions Page
An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.
NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS
Filed: 20 November 2007
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v. Cumberland County
Nos. 04 CRS 068631
SHANE MASON SEEK 04 CRS 068632
04 CRS 068633
Appeal by Defendant from judgments entered 29 June 2006 by
Judge Jack A. Thompson in Cumberland County Superior Court. Heard
in the Court of Appeals 29 August 2007.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General
Jane Rankin Thompson, for the State.
Mark Montgomery for Defendant.
I. FACTS and PROCEDURE
On 29 June 2006, Shane Mason Seek (Defendant) was convicted
of two counts of first-degree rape and three counts of taking
indecent liberties with a child. He was sentenced to two
consecutive 264 to 326 month prison terms for the two rape
convictions and two of the indecent liberties convictions, with an
additional 19 to 23 months for the remaining indecent liberties
conviction. On appeal, Defendant assigns error to (1) the trial
court's denial of his motion to suppress, (2) the trial court's
limitation of his cross-examination of N.V., and (3) the trial
court's refusal to allow Defendant to examine certain documentsregarding the prosecuting witness. For the reasons stated below,
we overrule Defendant's assignments of error.
At trial, the evidence tended to show the following: N.V.,
the prosecuting witness, was thirteen years old at the time of the
trial and was living with her grandmother, mother, and nine
brothers and sisters. Her mother had become friends with
Defendant's wife at church, and N.V. had become friends with
Defendant's children. Defendant first began touching N.V.
inappropriately when N.V.'s mother and father were away picking up
her oldest brother from church camp. Defendant rubbed her
shoulders and asked if he could look down her shirt. A few weeks
later, when he was visiting her home, Defendant went upstairs while
N.V. was in the bathroom and asked if he could kiss her breasts.
She was afraid she would be hurt or get in trouble so she let him
touch her. She wrote about the first incident in her diary. An
entry from 25 June 2004 described the first time Defendant touched
her and how he told her she would look sexy in her bra and panties.
Thereafter, sexual activity between N.V. and Defendant took
place about twice a month, ending in October or November 2004.
Defendant usually kissed her breasts, rubbed her shoulders, and
stuck his private into her while she was sitting on his lap and
his pants and underwear were down. Defendant also kissed and
licked her private.
N.V. did not initially tell her mother about the activity, but
she did show her diary to two friends. Later she talked to her
friends' mother about the incidents and then to the police. Shewas subsequently examined by a doctor. N.V. wrote a statement for
the police, which was admitted to corroborate her testimony, and
circled areas on a diagram of a girl indicating where Defendant had
M.V. is N.V.'s sixteen-year-old brother. On one occasion, he
saw N.V. come out of the upstairs bathroom with Defendant. On a
second occasion, when he could not find N.V. or Defendant, he
knocked on the locked bathroom door and then climbed out onto the
roof and looked into the bathroom window. He saw N.V. completely
naked. Defendant was kissing her breasts. M.V. knocked on the
window and told Defendant that he knew what Defendant was doing.
Defendant wanted to know what his proposal was. M.V. did not do
anything at that point. Shortly thereafter, Defendant was
Detective Gregory Mills (Detective Mills) was a child abuse
investigator assigned to the case on 25 October 2004. He and a
social worker interviewed N.V. on 28 October 2004. At the
beginning of the interview, N.V. handed them a letter she had
written. She told them Defendant touched her breasts, kissed her
breasts and vagina, and put his private into her. She said these
acts occurred in the bathroom of her house and at Defendant's
residence approximately eight or nine times, at least once a month.
Detective Mills also interviewed M.V. on 28 October 2004 and
learned that M.V. had seen Defendant kissing N.V.'s breasts.
Detective Mills subsequently telephoned Defendant and requested
that he come in for an interview. On 4 November 2004, Defendant voluntarily came to the
Cumberland County Law Enforcement Center for an interview with
Detective Mills. When asked about his relationship with N.V.,
Defendant said he mostly tried to avoid her because he did not want
to be caught in compromising positions with her. He initially
denied ever having sex with her, but stated that one time when he
gave her a neck massage, she asked to have sex with him. Defendant
also stated that on another occasion, she had trapped him in the
upstairs restroom and bared her breasts, and he brushed against
them trying to leave. By the end of the interview, however,
Defendant admitted to kissing N.V.'s breasts, rubbing his penis
against her vagina, and having sexual intercourse with her one
Michael Hohan was a detective in the juvenile unit of the
Cumberland County Sheriff's Department when Detective Mills asked
for his assistance in taping an interview. On 4 November 2004, he
operated the video equipment during Defendant's interviews with
Detective Mills and an investigator from the Department of Social
Services, Jeannie Dwyer. After hearing the interviews, Detective
Hohan made the supervisory decision to take Defendant into custody.
Part of the transcribed interview was admitted into evidence, and
portions of the videotape were shown to the jury.
Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician, examined N.V. on
15 November 2004. Dr. Cooper's examination revealed a healed
tissue tear in N.V.'s vaginal floor at the 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock
positions, indicating penetration through the hymenal ring to thefloor of the vagina. In Dr. Cooper's opinion, N.V. had a history
of behavioral and physical findings that were consistent with
sexual and emotional abuse and penetration by a penis.
II. MOTION TO SUPPRESS
Defendant assigns error to the trial court's denial of his
motion to suppress the inculpatory statement he made to Detective
Mills at the Cumberland County Law Enforcement Center. For the
following reasons, we hold the trial court properly denied
Defendant's motion to suppress.
A. MIRANDA WARNINGS
Defendant first argues that he made the inculpatory statement
while he was in custody for purposes of Miranda v. Arizona
U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966), that no Miranda
given, and thus, the statement should have been suppressed. After
careful review, we find that Defendant was not in custody for
purposes of Miranda
and that Miranda
warnings were, therefore, not
The applicable standard for reviewing a trial court's
determination on a motion to suppress is that [a] trial court's
findings of fact . . . are conclusive on appeal if supported by
competent evidence, even if the evidence is conflicting. State v.
, 336 N.C. 730, 745, 445 S.E.2d 917, 926 (1994), cert. denied
513 U.S. 1096, 130 L. Ed. 2d 661 (1995). Conclusions of law
reached by the trial court in determining whether a defendant was
in custody must be legally correct, reflecting a correctapplication of applicable legal principles to the facts found.
State v. Fernandez
, 346 N.C. 1, 484 S.E.2d 350 (1997).
The proper inquiry for determining whether a person is in
custody for purposes of Miranda
is based on the totality of the
circumstances, whether there was a 'formal arrest or restraint on
freedom of movement of the degree associated with a formal
arrest.' State v. Buchanan
, 353 N.C. 332, 339, 543 S.E.2d 823,
828 (2001) (Buchanan I
) (citations omitted). Further, [t]he
initial determination of custody depends on the objective
circumstances of the interrogation, not on the subjective views
harbored by either the interrogating officers or the person being
questioned. Stansbury v. California
, 511 U.S. 318, 323, 128 L.
Ed. 2d 293, 298 (1994). Accordingly, in this case, we must
examine, based upon the trial court's findings of fact, whether a
reasonable person in defendant's position . . . would have believed
that he was under arrest or was restrained in his movement to the
degree associated with a formal arrest. Buchanan I
, 353 N.C. at
339-40, 543 S.E.2d at 828.
A voir dire hearing on Defendant's motion to suppress was held
on 26 June 2006. Thereafter, the trial court entered an order
setting forth the following pertinent findings of fact:
5. That after an initial investigation, the
defendant was contacted by phone by
Detective Mills and asked to come to the
Sheriff's Department for an interview.
6. That as a result of making an appointment
to see Detective Mills, the Defendant
drove to the Law Enforcement Center. In
that L.E.C. was a secured facility,
Detective Mills met the defendant and
escorted him to an interview room. Thatthe interview room consisted of a room
approximately 10 feet by 10 feet and
contained a table and chairs.
7. That a conversation took place with the
defendant and Detective Mills for
approximately one hour during which
conversation the defendant incriminated
8. That at no time during the interview in
question was the Defendant informed that
he was in custody, under arrest, nor was
the Defendant ever placed in handcuffs or
placed in a locked room or cell. That
the defendant was told that he could
leave at any time.
9. That after the interview, the defendant
was asked by Detective Mills if he would
wait a few minutes to talk with a social
services worker to which the defendant
agreed. The defendant was left in the
interview room alone while waiting for
the social services worker to arrive.
10. That after being interviewed by the
social services worker, the defendant was
placed under arrest and incarcerated.
First, Defendant argues there is no competent evidence to
support the trial court's finding of fact that at no time during
the interview was Defendant placed in a locked room or cell.
review of the record, we find no evidence pertaining to whether or
not the interview room was locked. Thus, we agree with Defendant
that this finding of fact is not supported by the evidence.
Next, Defendant argues there is no competent evidence to
support the trial court's finding of fact that the defendant was
told he could leave at any time.
The record reveals the following
testimony given by Detective Mills on direct examination:
Q. Was -- did you, at any time, communicate
to the defendant that he was not in
custody or was free to leave?
A. I indicated to him, later in the
interview, that he would be able to
. . . .
Q. Did you, at any time, indicate to Mr.
Seek that he would be free to leave?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Okay; and, when was that?
A. Toward the end of the interview, I made
the -- a statement that -- I don't
remember the exact words, but I made
mention that he would be able to leave
after the interview.
This evidence does not support the finding that Defendant was
told he could leave at any time. The evidence instead shows that
toward the end of the interview, Defendant was told he would be
able to leave after the interview. Thus, we agree with Defendant
that this finding of fact was not supported by the evidence.
Accordingly, since these findings of fact are not supported by
competent evidence, they cannot be used to support a conclusion of
law that Defendant was not in custody. See, e.g., Cavenaugh v.
Cavenaugh, 317 N.C. 652, 658, 347 S.E.2d 19, 23 (1986) (Since the
trial judge's findings of fact are not supported by competent
evidence, they cannot be used to support a conclusion of law that
the plaintiff does not have an adequate remedy at law[.]). Thus,
we exclude these unsupported findings of fact from our analysis.
Based on a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the
trial court's remaining findings of fact are fully supported by
competent evidence. Given these findings, we agree with the trial
at the time of the incriminating statement
made by the Defendant, a reasonable person
would believe that he was free to leave at any
time and that the incriminating interviews
were non-custodial interviews. In addition,in view of the surrounding circumstances a
reasonable person in the Defendant's position
would not have believed that he was under
arrest and the circumstances surrounding this
incident were not the functional equivalent of
Defendant argues, however, that he reasonably believed he was
not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave because (1)
he was interrogated in a secured area of the Cumberland County
Sheriff's Department, (2) he was escorted everywhere in the
building, and (3) he was told he could leave after the interview.
Upon reviewing the totality of circumstances surrounding
Defendant's interview, we are not persuaded that these three
factors rendered Defendant in custody.
First, the mere fact that Defendant was questioned in the Law
Enforcement Center does not lead to a conclusion that Defendant was
in custody. As the United States Supreme Court has stated:
Any interview of one suspected of a crime by a
police officer will have coercive aspects to
it, simply by virtue of the fact that the
police officer is part of a law enforcement
system which may ultimately cause the suspect
to be charged with a crime. But police
officers are not required to administer
Miranda warnings to everyone whom they
question. Nor is the requirement of warnings
to be imposed simply because the questioning
takes place in the station house, or because
the questioned person is one whom the police
Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 495, 50 L. Ed. 2d 714, 719
Next, in State v. Buchanan, 355 N.C. 264, 559 S.E.2d 785
(2002) (Buchanan II) (per curiam), our Supreme Court upheld the
trial court's ruling suppressing incriminating statements made bythe defendant only where special security measures were implemented
for the defendant.
(See footnote 1)
Id. Upon arrival at the police station, the
defendant in Buchanan was allowed to use the restroom and to get a
drink of water by himself. Buchanan I, 353 N.C. 332, 543 S.E.2d
823. During a subsequent interview, the defendant admitted to
participating in a homicide, stating that he 'just went berserk,'
that he went behind the bar where the shotgun rack was and that he
took a gun off the wall and started shooting at [the victims].
Id. at 334, 543 S.E.2d at 825. Shortly after making such
admission, the defendant again asked to use the restroom. This
time, however, he was accompanied to the restroom by the two police
interrogators, one of whom was in uniform and carried a firearm.
After returning from the bathroom, the defendant made a second
incriminating statement. Subsequently, the defendant was arrested,
charged, and given Miranda warnings. The trial court concluded
that a reasonable person in defendant's position would have
believed he was in custody . . . when, after admitting to his
station house interrogators that he had participated in a homicide,
those same interrogators accompanied him to the bathroom, with anofficer staying with defendant at all times. Buchanan II, 355
N.C. at 265, 559 S.E.2d at 785. Consequently, the trial court
suppressed any statements the defendant made between the time he
returned from being accompanied to the bathroom until Miranda
warnings were properly administered, and the Supreme Court
affirmed. Buchanan II, 355 N.C. 264, 559 S.E.2d 785.
Unlike the security for the defendant in Buchanan, in this
case no security measures were implemented solely for Defendant,
nor was there ever an abrupt elevation in security surrounding
Defendant. Because the Sheriff's office is a secure building that
requires pass cards to get onto the elevator and different
areas[,] Detective Mills met Defendant when he arrived at the Law
Enforcement Center and escorted Defendant to an interview room.
Furthermore, Detective Mills escorted Defendant to the water
fountain, the only time Defendant left the interview room, because,
as Detective Mills explained to Defendant, the Sheriff's office is
a secure area and [w]e don't let visitors wander the hallway[.]
From the time of his voluntary arrival at the Law Enforcement
Center to the time of his actual arrest, Defendant was treated just
as any other visitor to the Law Enforcement Center would have been
treated _ a fact that was made clear to him _ giving him no reason
to believe he was under arrest nor restrained in his movement to
Finally, in State v. Garcia, 358 N.C. 382, 597 S.E.2d 724
(2004), the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's denial of the
defendant's motion to suppress his inculpatory statement, holdingthe defendant was not in custody at the time he made his statement.
The Court determined that
Defendant is an adult male who has prior
experience with the criminal justice system in
this state. He was transported to the police
station at his own request. While waiting for
transportation, defendant was generally alone.
Although defendant was frisked before entering
any police vehicle, officers explained the
reason for the pat-downs and carried them out
with defendant's consent. During this
process, Officer Council twice informed
defendant that he was not under arrest.
The trial court noted that defendant's
conversation was polite, lighthearted, and
casual while en route to the police station.
Upon arrival, he was free to move about
unescorted to get a drink of water from the
fountain. Thereafter, defendant was asked to
wait in an unlocked interview room. A
plain-clothed, unarmed officer conducted
defendant's interview. At no time did either
party raise his voice. Defendant was not
threatened in any way, and no promises were
made to him. He was not handcuffed at any
time preceding, during, or immediately
following the interview. Each of defendant's
requests was granted, and in fact, Detective
Andrews took a break during the interview to
Id. at 397, 597 S.E.2d at 737. Given these circumstances, the
Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that at the time the
defendant made the contested statement, he was not under arrest,
nor was his movement restrained to the degree associated with a
formal arrest. Garcia, 358 N.C. 382, 597 S.E.2d 724
The defendant in Garcia argued that a reasonable person
subjected to three pat-downs, a closed interview room door, and the
interviewing detective's statement that another party had given
him up would believe himself to be under arrest or restrained inmovement to that degree. The defendant also pointed out that he
would not have been able to leave the police car in which he had
voluntarily ridden to the police station because the rear doors of
police vehicles lock automatically. However, the Court, in
reviewing the totality of the circumstances, determined that the
four factors defendant identifie[d] did not render him in custody
as defined by Miranda. Id. at 397, 597 S.E.2d at 737.
The circumstances in Garcia are similar to those in the case
sub judice. Here, Defendant is an adult male with prior experience
in the criminal justice system of North Carolina as a sex offender.
Defendant voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by Detective Mills
and drove himself to the Sheriff's office to be interviewed. At no
time before or during the interview was Defendant told he was in
custody or under arrest, nor was he ever placed in handcuffs. The
tone of the interview was subdued with no raised voices, and
initially the two men discussed their military services and other
miscellaneous subjects. Defendant made no requests during the
interview and never asked to leave. Toward the end of the
interview, Defendant was asked if he wanted some water. Even
though he was escorted to the water fountain, Detective Mills
explained to Defendant that he was being escorted to the fountain
because it was a secure area, and to show him where it was.
Detective Mills then asked Defendant if he would wait until a
social worker arrived to speak with him, and Defendant agreed.
Defendant was left alone and unrestrained while Detective Mills
went to get the social worker. Although, unlike Defendant in this case, the defendant in
Garcia was informed by the interrogating officer that he was not
under arrest, such statements are circumstances to be weighed when
considering the totality of the circumstances, and are not
conclusive as to whether or not a defendant was in custody. See
Buchanan II, 355 N.C. 264, 559 S.E.2d 785 (holding the defendant
was in custody even though he was told several times that he was
not under arrest and that he was free to leave at any time).
Accordingly, we reiterate that custody analysis, for purposes
of Miranda, is dependent upon the unique facts surrounding each
incriminating statement. This Court reviews those facts and
circumstances together as a whole because the effect on a
reasonable person is best discerned from context; no one factor is
determinative. Garcia, 358 N.C. at 399, 597 S.E.2d at 738. Based
upon the totality of the circumstances here, we hold that a
reasonable person in Defendant's position would not have believed
that he was under arrest or that his freedom of movement was
restrained to the degree of a formal arrest. We conclude that the
trial court's findings of fact which are supported by competent
record evidence in turn support its conclusion of law that
Defendant was not in custody when he made the contested
statement. Therefore, the police were not required to give Miranda
B. INVOLUNTARY STATEMENT
Defendant next asserts the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress because the trial court's findings of fact didnot support the conclusion that Defendant's constitutional rights
were not violated. Defendant contends his statement to police was
made involuntarily and that the admission of an involuntary
statement is constitutional error under the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article I, §§ 19
and 23 of the North Carolina Constitution.
review, we find that Defendant's statement was made voluntarily
and, therefore, was properly admitted.
A statement is only admissible if it was given voluntarily
and understandingly. State v. Schneider
, 306 N.C. 351, 355, 293
S.E.2d 157, 160 (1982). The Court must examine the totality of the
circumstances to determine whether a statement was voluntary.
State v. Jackson
, 308 N.C. 549, 304 S.E.2d 134 (1983). Factors to
be considered are
whether defendant was in custody, whether he
was deceived, whether his Miranda
honored, whether he was held incommunicado,
the length of the interrogation, whether there
were physical threats or shows of violence,
whether promises were made to obtain the
confession, the familiarity of the declarant
with the criminal justice system, and the
mental condition of the declarant.
State v. Hardy, 339 N.C. 207, 222, 451 S.E.2d 600, 608 (1994).
Applying the above factors to this case, we agree with the
trial court's conclusion of law that Defendant's statement was
voluntary. Although we need not recite again the evidence
discussed above, we note that additional evidence from the record
supports the trial court's conclusion. First, Detective Mills's
interview with Defendant lasted only one hour, and social workerJeannie Dwyer's interview lasted only thirty minutes. Furthermore,
the record is devoid of any suggestion of physical threats or shows
of violence to obtain Defendant's statement.
Defendant argues that, in addition to being in custody and not
being given his Miranda warnings, he was induced to confess by
threats and promises. However, admonitions to an accused by
police officers to tell the truth, standing alone, do not render a
confession inadmissible. State v. Pruitt, 286 N.C. 442, 458, 212
S.E.2d 92, 102 (1975). Furthermore, any improper inducement
generating hope must promise relief from the criminal charge to
which the confession relates, not to any merely collateral
The following exchange took place during Detective Mills's
interview of Defendant:
Mills: - like I - I deal with the facts
that's all I deal with.
Defendant: I understand that -
Mills: - and I don't want - I don't want to
have to go to the DA and say he's lying. And
right now I believe you are.
. . . .
Mills: - to what point are you - what - what
can you tell me that's truthful? What can I
take over to the DA's office and be able to
say Mr. DA he's telling me the truth about
this and I believe him and we need to help him
Defendant claims Detective Mills's statements amounted to an
implied promise that if Defendant did not confess, the detective
would not help him. However, government agents may validlyinitiate conversations regarding a defendant's cooperation with the
government or promise to make a defendant's cooperation known to
the prosecutor without rendering a resulting confession
involuntary. United States v. Shears, 762 F.2d 397 (4th Cir.
In State v. Barden, 356 N.C. 316, 572 S.E.2d 108 (2002),
police officers told the defendant that they believed he was not
telling the truth when he denied his involvement in the crime at
issue and told him this was his opportunity to be truthful; made
references to the defendant's having been in the Army; and said to
the defendant that being in the Army was a respectable position so
he should be respectable and truthful in making his statement. The
Court did not find such statements by the officers to be improper
and the defendant's confession was ultimately found to be
voluntarily and understandingly given. Id. As in Barden,
Detective Mills's statements were not improper promises or threats
but rather legitimate attempts to convince Defendant to tell the
truth. As such, Detective Mills's statements did not render
Defendant's resulting confession involuntary.
Defendant also claims the social worker's statement that
Defendant could not see his children until and unless he talked
with the Department of Social Services at the police station was an
improper threat. However, this statement was not related to
Defendant's relief from the rape and indecent liberties charges
against him, but referred to the purely collateral advantage of
seeing his children, which was entirely disconnected from thepossible punishment or treatment Defendant might receive. Pruitt,
286 N.C. at 458, 212 S.E.2d at 102. Consequently, the social
worker's statement was not a threat which unfairly induced
Therefore, we hold that, based upon the totality of the
circumstances, Defendant gave his statement voluntarily. In light
of this holding, we also conclude that the trial court did not err
in denying Defendant's motion to suppress.
III. RELEVANT EVIDENCE
Defendant next contends the trial court erred in refusing to
allow any evidence relating to N.V.'s sexual abuse by her father to
be admitted at trial. A trial court's ruling on an evidentiary
point will be presumed to be correct unless the complaining party
can demonstrate that the particular ruling was in fact incorrect.
State v. Herring, 322 N.C. 733, 749, 370 S.E.2d 363, 373 (1988).
Even if the complaining party can show that the trial court erred
in its ruling, relief ordinarily will not be granted absent a
showing of prejudice. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1443(a) (2005).
Relevant evidence is evidence having any tendency to make a fact at
issue more or less likely. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1, Rule 401
(2005). Relevant evidence is generally admissible while evidence
that is not relevant is not admissible. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1,
Rule 402 (2005).
Defendant was on trial for rape and indecent liberties with a
minor. Medical evidence presented by Dr. Cooper showed tears in
N.V.'s vaginal tissue that had not healed back together. Thesefindings indicated that penetration had occurred. Dr. Cooper
concluded, based on the physical examination, that N.V.'s injuries
could have been caused by a penis. DSS records indicated that
N.V.'s father had been inappropriately touching her for about seven
years, but had never had intercourse with her. Thus, evidence of
abuse of N.V. by her father was not relevant to explain the
physical evidence or to show that the rapes charged was not
committed by Defendant. Accordingly, on the rape charges against
Defendant, the evidence was properly excluded under Rule 402.
Dr. Cooper also concluded, based on speaking with and
examining N.V., that N.V. had a history of behavioral and physical
findings consistent with children who were sexually abused.
Although Dr. Cooper did not testify at trial as to the exact
behaviors on which she based her opinion, she did testify that
N.V.'s symptoms were consistent with abuse. Even though evidence
of abuse of N.V. by her father may have been an alternative
explanation for N.V.'s behaviors, such evidence did not make it any
less likely that Defendant committed indecent liberties with her.
See State v. Holden, 106 N.C. App. 244, 416 S.E.2d 415 (1992)
(holding any evidence that someone else may have abused the minor
child in 1986 was irrelevant to show that the defendant did not
abuse the child in 1989). Consequently, the evidence of N.V.'s
abuse by her father was also properly excluded under Rule 402 on
the indecent liberties charges against Defendant. Furthermore,
even if such evidence was admissible for purposes of Defendant's
indecent liberties charges, any error in excluding it was harmlessbeyond a reasonable doubt given N.V.'s testimony, the eyewitness
testimony of her brother, the physical findings of Dr. Cooper, and
Defendant's confession. Since no different result would have been
reached by the jury had the evidence been allowed, any error was
not reversible error and Defendant is not entitled to a new trial.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1443(b) (2005).
IV. EXCULPATORY INFORMATION
As a final matter, Defendant asks this Court to review the
trial court's decision regarding records of N.V.'s case kept by the
Cumberland County Department of Social Services. The trial court
reviewed these records in camera and concluded that Defendant was
entitled to have some of the documents included in the file. The
trial court found the remaining records contained no exculpatory
information to which Defendant was entitled. See Pennsylvania v.
Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39, 94 L. Ed. 2d 40 (1987) (stating that the
State's interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its files
and the defendant's right to access to information necessary to the
preparation of his defense are properly balanced by an in camera
review of the records by the trial court and the trial court's
obligation to release information material to the fairness of the
trial). These remaining records were sealed by order of the trial
court and transmitted to this Court for review on appeal.
After careful review of these records, we agree with the trial
court that all of the records relevant to the case were made
available to Defendant, and that the remaining records contain no
information material to his defense. For the reasons stated, we hold that Defendant received a fair
trial, free of error.
Judges McGEE and SMITH concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
In Buchanan I
the Court remanded the case, instructing the
trial court to make additional findings of fact and to draw new
conclusions of law considering only those circumstances surrounding
the defendant's interrogation which would contribute to an
objective determination that [the] defendant's freedom of movement
was restrained to the degree associated with a formal arrest.
353 N.C. at 342, 543 S.E.2d at 830. On remand, the
trial court added two findings of fact to its previous findings and
under the proper test reassessed the circumstances surrounding the
defendant's interrogation. Buchanan II
, 355 N.C. 264, 559 S.E.2d
785. The Court affirmed the trial court's new conclusions of law
on appeal. Id.
*** Converted from WordPerfect ***