Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 12 July 2006 by
Judge Ronald E. Spivey in Guilford County Superior Court. Heard in
the Court of Appeals 30 November 2007.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney
General Susan K. Nichols, for the State.
Terry F. Rose, for defendant-appellant.
Ronnie Lane Stryker (defendant) appeals from judgment
entered after a jury found him to be guilty of two counts of
robbery with a dangerous weapon pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §
14-87. We find no error.
A. State's Evidence
The State's evidence tended to show that on the night of 15
October 2005, brothers Quinton(Quinton) and Brenton (Brenton)
Lewis, students at North Carolina A&T University, were standing
with a group of friends in a parking lot of Collegiate Commons in
Greensboro, during North Carolina A&T's Homecoming Weekend. Thegroup stood near a Ford Explorer where defendant and several of his
relatives and friends were located.
Quinton testified defendant and Carlton Moore (Moore)
approached him. Defendant put a gun into his side and said,
[t]ake it off, referring to Quinton's gold chain necklace.
Quinton gave defendant the necklace. Moore approached Brenton and
indicated he wanted Brenton's gold chain necklace. Brenton removed
his necklace and handed it to Moore. Both Quinton and Brenton
testified it appeared that Moore also had a gun under his
sweatshirt, though neither brother specifically saw Moore with a
gun. Defendant, Moore, and the others in their group entered the
Ford Explorer and left the scene.
Quinton and Brenton reported the robbery to campus police.
North Carolina A&T Police Officer Christian Tomey (Officer Tomey)
testified he received the call regarding the robbery and located
the Ford Explorer. Officer Tomey stopped the Ford Explorer in a
Mrs. Winner's Restaurant parking lot.
Greensboro Police Officer T.S. Lapse (Officer Lapse) stopped
to assist Officer Tomey. The driver of the vehicle, Robert Browne,
consented to a search of the vehicle. Officer Lapse testified
defendant was sitting in the backseat of the vehicle and was
wearing a gold necklace that matched the description of Quinton's
and Brenton's necklaces. A search of the vehicle revealed a gun
hidden beneath the front passenger seat where Eric Brewer
(Brewer), had been sitting. No weapons were found on the
individuals. Upon their arrival at the Mrs. Winner's Restaurantparking lot Quinton and Brenton identified defendant and Moore as
the individuals who had robbed them. Quinton and Brenton also
identified the necklaces defendant and Moore were wearing as those
stolen from them earlier that day. On 7 November 2005, defendant
was indicted on two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon.
B. Defendant's Evidence
At the close of the State's evidence, defendant moved to
dismiss the charges against him based upon insufficient evidence.
The trial court denied his motion. Defendant testified on his own
behalf, and admitted he had committed common-law robbery by taking
Quinton's gold chain, but denied possessing a gun when the robbery
took place. Defendant admitted he had positioned his hand inside
the waistband of his sweatshirt to make the group think he had a
gun. Brewer testified he kept his gun in the Ford Explorer.
Brewer stated no one else in their party that night knew he had the
gun until he took it from under the seat after they left the
Defendant renewed his motion to dismiss at the close of all
the evidence. The trial court again denied his motion. A jury
found defendant to be guilty of two counts of robbery with a
dangerous weapon. Defendant was sentenced in the presumptive range
to one active term of a minimum of sixty-four months to a maximum
of eighty-six months imprisonment. Defendant appeals.
Defendant argues the trial court erred by: (1) denying his
motion to dismiss at the close of the State's evidence and at theclose of all the evidence; (2) denying his objection to the trial
court's jury instruction on acting in concert; and (3) sentencing
him in the presumptive range in light of the evidence of mitigating
factors he presented.
III. Motion to Dismiss
Defendant argues the State failed to present substantial
evidence of two of the required elements for the offense of robbery
with a dangerous weapon. We disagree.
The offense of robbery with a dangerous weapon is defined as:
Any person or persons who, having in possession or with the use or
of any firearms or other dangerous weapon, implement
or means, whereby the life of a person is endangered or threatened,
unlawfully takes or attempts to take personal property from another
. . . . N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-87 (2005) (emphasis supplied). To
support submission of this offense to the jury, the State had to
prove the following elements: (1) the unlawful taking of personal
property from another person; (2) the possession, use, or
of a firearm or other dangerous weapon; and (3)
danger or threat to the victim's life. State v. Joyner
, 295 N.C.
55, 63, 243 S.E.2d 367, 373 (1978).
The State is required to present substantial evidence tending
to show each element, meaning such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
State v. Jarrett
, 137 N.C. App. 256, 262, 527 S.E.2d 693, 697
(2000) (citation and quotation omitted). Defendant's motion to
dismiss for lack of sufficiency of the evidence requires the courtto review the evidence in the light most favorable to the State,
with all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. State v.
, 356 N.C. 591, 596, 573 S.E.2d 866, 869 (2002). Any
contradictions or discrepancies in the evidence are for the jury to
resolve and do not warrant dismissal. Id
Quinton testified that defendant had [a] black gun . . . .
like a semi-automatic . . . like a nine. Brenton testified that
he saw [defendant] reaching . . . under his shirt and he put the
gun to [Quinton]. Viewed in the light most favorable to the
State, the State's evidence was sufficient to survive a motion to
dismiss and send the matter to the jury. The trial court did not
err in denying defendant's motion. This assignment of error is
IV. Jury Instructions
Defendant next argues the trial court erred in overruling his
objection to a jury instruction on acting in concert. Defendant
asserts this instruction allowed the jury to sidestep the issue of
whether he had a gun while committing the robbery. We disagree.
A defendant acts in concert with another to commit a crime
when he acts in harmony or in conjunction with another pursuant to
a common criminal plan or purpose. State v. Lundy
, 135 N.C. App.
13, 18, 519 S.E.2d 73, 78 (1999) (citation and quotation omitted),
appeal dismissed and disc. rev. denied
, 351 N.C. 365, 542 S.E.2d
651 (2000). The elements of acting in concert are: (1) being
present at the scene of the crime, and (2) acting together with
another person who commits the acts necessary to constitute thecrime pursuant to a common plan or purpose. State v. Poag
N.C. App. 312, 320, 583 S.E.2d 661, 667 (citation omitted), appeal
dismissed and disc. rev. denied
, 357 N.C. 661, 590 S.E.2d 857
Defendant was present at the scene of the robbery and admitted
he robbed Quinton. Evidence was also presented that: (1) defendant
and Moore walked up to Quinton and Brenton; (2) defendant took the
chain from Quinton; and (3) Moore looked at Brenton and said,
Yeah. You, too. Both victims testified to defendant's
possession of a firearm and that Moore also appeared to have a
Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the State's
evidence was sufficient to support the trial court's decision to
instruct the jury on an acting in concert charge. The trial court
did not err in overruling defendant's objection to this
instruction. This assignment of error is overruled.
V. Mitigating Factors
Defendant argues the trial court erred in failing to find
mitigating factors and not sentencing him in the mitigated range.
The trial court possesses the discretion to determine whether
or not to impose a mitigated sentence. N.C. Gen. Stat. §
15A-1340.16 (b) (2005). It is well established that the trial
court is not required to consider evidence of aggravation or
mitigation unless it deviates from the presumptive range . . . .
State v. Taylor
, 155 N.C. App. 251, 267, 574 S.E.2d 58, 69 (2002)(internal citations omitted), cert. denied
, 357 N.C. 65, 579 S.E.2d
572 (2003). If the trial court decides to depart from the
presumptive sentence, it must make findings of fact regarding the
aggravating and mitigating factors. N.C. Gen. Stat. §
While defendant presented evidence of mitigation, the trial
court was not required to find the existence of any mitigating
factors. Defendant was sentenced within the presumptive range
authorized for the offense of robbery with a dangerous weapon.
This assignment of error is overruled.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, sufficient
evidence was presented for the trial court to deny defendant's
motions to dismiss the charges against him. The trial court did
not err in overruling defendant's objection to its jury
instructions on acting in concert. The trial court did not err in
failing to find mitigating factors in imposing defendant's sentence
within the presumptive range. Defendant received a fair trial free
from the errors he preserved, assigned, and argued. We find no
Judges GEER and STEPHENS concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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