Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 1 December 2006 and
5 December 2006 by Judge Ronald K. Payne in Gaston County Superior
Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 19 August 2008.
Nora Henry Hargrove for defendant appellant.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney
General Jonathan Babb, for the State.
On 2 September 2003, defendant Keith Lavoris Hall
(defendant) was indicted with four counts of first-degree murder,
robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery
with a dangerous weapon. Defendant's trial commenced at the 23
October 2006 Criminal Session of Gaston County Superior Court. The
relevant evidence presented at trial tended to show the following:
In August of 2003, Darryl Brown and Billy Collins lived together in
a house located at 110 River Buff Lane in Belmont. Brown and
Collins made and sold crack cocaine from this house. Brown kept
several firearms at this house as well. Brown met defendant, who he knew as Blue, in July of 2003.
Between July of 2003 and 20 August 2003, defendant had been to
Brown's house two or three times. Defendant's girlfriend, Crystal
Goins, had accompanied defendant on each of those occasions.
On 20 August 2003, Collins, and three women, Crystal Ellis,
Amanda Sossaman, and Melissa Petrie, were at Brown's house for most
of the day. At around noon, Brown traveled into town to drop off
some cocaine. When Brown returned to his house, defendant and Goins
were there. Defendant was purchasing crack cocaine from Collins.
During this transaction, in defendant's view, Collins handed Brown
$2,000.00 in cash to count. Collins then placed the cash in his
At approximately 5:30 p.m., Brown left his house and headed to
Charlotte to purchase cocaine. At that time, Collins, Ellis,
Sossaman, Petrie, Goins, and defendant were still at the house.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., Brown returned to his house. He
had tried calling the house several times during his return trip,
but there was no answer. When Brown entered his house, he found
Collins dead, lying in a pool of blood. The three women were dead
as well. In addition, Brown noticed that his dog had been let out
of the house. Brown testified that he panicked, fled his house, and
headed to the home of his friend, Robbie Hodge.
After meeting with Hodge, Brown returned to his house, hid the
cocaine that he had in his possession, and called 911. Thereafter,
law enforcement arrived at the scene and found Crystal Ellis' body
lying in the entryway of a bedroom just off of the den. She hadbeen shot once in the back and once in the head. Billy Collins'
body was lying in the kitchen, near the living room. He had a
gunshot wound in the top of his head. The two other female victims
were found seated or slouching on the sofa. Both had gunshot wounds
on the top of their heads, among other places. Blood was
splattered by the front door, on the coffee table, and in the
kitchen. Law enforcement recovered six nine millimeter shell
casings in the living room and a Taurus 9 millimeter pistol from
underneath the sofa. There were also three .45 shell casings near
the body of one of the female victims and one .45 shell casing near
the body in the kitchen. Defendant's fingerprints were recovered
from a Pepsi bottle found at the scene of the crime.
Wendy Scott, a crime scene investigator with the Gaston County
Police, testified that when she arrived on the scene, Brown was
nervous and upset, but was also cooperative. Scott did not see any
blood on Brown, his clothing, or his shoes. Brown's hands were
wiped to test for the presence of gunshot residue, but none was
recovered. On cross-examination, Special Agent James Gregory of the
North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) explained that
the fact that no gunshot residue was recovered from Brown's hands
did not eliminate the possibility that Brown could have fired a
gun, as any gunshot residue could have been removed if he had
subsequently washed his hands.
Crystal Reckers, Goins' aunt, testified that she took
defendant and Goins to look for an apartment on 21 August 2003 and
that she noticed that defendant had a large sum of money to use forthe deposit. Leslie Dale, the property manager of Shadow Creek
Apartments, testified that on 21 August 2003, defendant and Goins
applied for an apartment and paid a security deposit of $395 and
prorated rent for August of $165. They paid in cash.
Wanda Willis, Goins' aunt, testified at trial that defendant
and Goins had washed clothing and stayed over at her house on
either 20 August 2003 or 21 August 2003. Law enforcement recovered
several items from the room in Willis' house in which defendant and
Goins had stayed, including among other items, a white T-shirt with
red stains on the front that appeared to be bloodstains, a pair of
panties stained with blood, a pair of ankle socks, and a lease
On 22 August 2003, Sgt. Joseph Ramey of the Gaston County
Police Department saw defendant walk toward some dumpsters at the
end of a parking lot in the Shadow Creek Apartment complex. Ramey
testified that defendant was gone for about thirty seconds and then
came back towards the apartment complex. Although it had recently
rained and everything else in the dumpster was still wet from the
rain, Ramey recovered a dry perfectly folded pair of blue jeans
from the dumpster in the area where defendant had walked. SBI tests
revealed that the jeans found in this dumpster were stained with
Crystal Ellis' blood. Defendant was subsequently arrested.
While in custody, defendant wrote several letters to Goins.
Only portions of these letters were photocopied before they were
mailed to Goins. In one letter, read at trial, defendant wrote toGoins that he and Goins had to stick together. In another letter,
read at trial, defendant wrote to Goins:
I have two out-of-town lawyers.... They told me that they
didn't have no evidence on me, only evidence they have is
your statements. I never wrote a statement. You don't--
didn't suppose to write-- you didn't suppose to write one
without your lawyer being there. Your lawyer knows that,
so he should be able to get them destroyed if you tell
them you was high or [f---ed] up on pills or something.
My lawyer also told me you was going to testify against
me on trial. Don't do that. Let me ride my own. I'm a
thug, a G-unit soldier, and you is still part of my team.
Crystal, you know I love you.
Gene Dickens, defendant's cell mate testified that he pieced
together from his conversations with defendant that defendant had
killed four people, three of which, he took out because they was
there. There was evidence, however, that a few weeks before the
trial started, defendant and Dickens were involved in an
altercation, and Dickens might have testified against defendant in
retaliation. Moreover, on cross-examination, Dickens admitted that
the Assistant District Attorney had offered to assist Dickens with
the Parole Review Commission.
Deputy Sheriff Donny Baynard testified that on 11 August 2005,
during a routine frisk, Baynard recovered a foreign object from
defendant's shoe. Defendant then yelled to Baynard, That shank was
meant for you, motherf----er. Defendant stated, I've killed four
people already, what's one more, especially if it's a cop.
Defendant did not testify or present evidence at trial. On 14
November 2006, the jury found defendant guilty of robbery with a
dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous
weapon, two counts of first-degree murder, both on the basis ofmalice, premeditation, and deliberation, as well as under the
felony murder rule, and two counts of first-degree murder, only
under the felony murder rule. Defendant was sentenced to
consecutive terms of imprisonment of 108 to 139 months for robbery
with a dangerous weapon, 42 to 60 months for conspiracy, and four
consecutive terms of life imprisonment without parole for the four
counts of first-degree murder. Defendant appeals.
(See footnote 1)
On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred by:
(1) allowing into evidence portions of the letters that defendant
wrote to Goins; (2) allowing into evidence the pair of blue jeans
that was recovered from the dumpster at defendant's apartment
complex; and (3) denying his motions to dismiss the charges for
I. Motion for Appropriate Relief
Defendant has moved for appropriate relief, pursuant to N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 15A-1418 (2007), on the grounds that newly discovered
evidence exists that was not available at trial. See
Stat. § 15A-1415(c)(2007). A motion for appropriate relief is a motion in the original
cause and may be brought before the Court of Appeals if the case is
then pending before this Court. N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 15A-1411, -1418.
The appellate court, faced with a motion for appropriate relief,
must decide whether the motion may be determined on the basis of
the materials before it, or whether it is necessary to remand the
case to the trial division for taking evidence or conducting other
proceedings. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1418(b). If the appellate
court does not remand the case for proceedings on the motion, it
may determine the motion in conjunction with the appeal and enter
its ruling on the motion with its determination of the case. Id.
We find the evidence before us sufficient to reach the merits of
the motion and see no reason to remand the case to the trial court.
In his motion, defendant asserts that he is entitled to a new
trial because evidence has come to light, post trial, that
demonstrates bias in the testimony of defendant's cell mate, Gene
Dickens. At trial, Dickens testified that defendant had bragged to
him about how he clipped a gangster and how he only spared the
life of a dog. After the trial, while Assistant District Attorney
William Stevenson was cleaning his office, he discovered two
unopened letters that Dickens had written to him. In these letters,
Dickens indicates that Stevenson was helping Dickens contact
witnesses who had recanted their testimony after Dickens'
conviction. Defendant argues that if these letters had been
available at trial, they could have been used during cross-
examination for impeachment purposes. A motion for appropriate relief may only be based upon the
grounds set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1415. In pertinent part,
this statute provides:
[A] defendant at any time after verdict may by
a motion for appropriate relief, raise the
ground that evidence is available which was
unknown or unavailable to the defendant at the
time of trial, which could not with due
diligence have been discovered or made
available at that time, including recanted
testimony, and which has a direct and material
bearing upon the defendant's eligibility for
the death penalty or the defendant's guilt or
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1415(c).
Defendant must establish the following to prevail upon a
motion for appropriate relief on the ground of newly discovered
evidence: (1) that the witness or witnesses will give newly
discovered evidence, (2) that such newly discovered evidence is
probably true, (3) that it is competent, material and relevant, (4)
that due diligence was used and proper means were employed to
procure the testimony at the trial, (5) that the newly discovered
evidence is not merely cumulative, (6) that it does not tend only
to contradict a former witness or to impeach or discredit him, (7)
that it is of such a nature as to show that on another trial a
different result will probably be reached and that the right will
prevail. State v. Stukes
, 153 N.C. App. 770, 773, 571 S.E.2d 241,
Here, the trial transcript reveals that these newly discovered
letters are merely cumulative evidence, as defendant introducedother evidence at trial, which tended to demonstrate bias and
undermine the credibility of Dickens' testimony:
[Defense Counsel]: I'm going to ask you to take a
look at State's Exhibit 267. Have you looked at that
before? Do you recognize it?
[Defense Counsel]: It's a letter dated September
[Defense Counsel]: Addressed to you, isn't it?
[Dickens]: Yes, sir.
[Defense Counsel]: Is it from Mr. Stevenson seated
over there at the prosecutor's table?
* * * *
[Defense Counsel]: Okay. Did you write him a letter
that says you need some help from him, and he promised
you some help?
[Dickens]: Well, I wrote him a letter telling him,
like, when he came, right, to see me, like I explained to
him, I didn't want to come and testify. I just told him
what I thought.
[Defense Counsel]: Sir, did you write him a letter
telling him you wanted help--
* * * *
[Defense Counsel]: Did you write him a letter that
says, You said; you could help me if I was in appeal
court on my case. I'm sending a motion to North Carolina
Appeal Court now. Do you remember writing him that?
* * * *
[Defense Counsel]: Okay. Do you remember writing to
Mr. Stevenson, I know you're all for yourself and your
case. I'm willing to help you. I know it's the rightthing to do, but I've got to look out for myself here. I
hope you will write back or show me something that will
help you. Do you remember writing that to him?
In addition to the fact that the newly discovered letters are
merely cumulative evidence, they would be introduced for no other
reason but to impeach or discredit a witness. Furthermore, given
that defendant introduced other evidence tending to undermine the
credibility of Gene Dickens' testimony at trial, including evidence
that Dickens may have testified against defendant in retaliation,
we conclude that it is improbable that these newly discovered
letters would cause a jury to reach a different result on another
trial. Accordingly, we conclude that this newly discovered evidence
does not satisfy the fifth, sixth, or seventh requirements for the
discovery of new evidence to warrant the granting of a new trial.
Stukes, 153 N.C. App. at 773, 571 S.E.2d at 244. As such,
defendant's motion for appropriate relief is denied.
II. Rule of Completeness
We now turn to defendant's appeal. Defendant first contends
that Rule 106 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence required the
State to present all of the letters that defendant wrote to Goins,
not just the portion of the letters that had been photocopied
before the letters were mailed. We disagree.
When part of a written or recorded statement is introduced by
a party, Rule 106, known as the rule of completeness, allows an
opposing party to introduce any other part of that statement at
that time . . . which ought in fairness to be consideredcontemporaneously with it. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1, Rule 106
(2007). A trial court's decision in determining whether an excluded
portion ought to be admitted under Rule 106 will not be reversed on
appeal in the absence of a showing of an abuse of discretion. State
, 332 N.C. 204, 220, 420 S.E.2d 395, 403 (1992).
Under Rule 106, a defendant bears the burden of
contemporaneously seeking to introduce the excluded parts of the
statement and demonstrating that the excluded parts are either
explanatory or relevant. See State v. Lloyd
, 354 N.C. 76, 96, 552
S.E.2d 596, 612-13 (2001); see also Taylor Pipeline Constr. v.
Directional Road Boring
, 438 F. Supp. 2d 696, 705 (E.D. Tex.
2006)(While Hypower objects to Plaintiff's submission of the
exhibit bearing bates-stamp PDG/TP 007023 (Exhibit E-29), a portion
of an e-mail, as being incomplete, it does not attempt to introduce
any missing pages that it asserts the court is required to consider
for the sake of fairness. Accordingly, Hypower's objection must
, 332 N.C. at 220, 420 S.E.2d at 404 ([D]efendant
must demonstrate that the tapes and transcripts of the two
telephone calls were somehow out of context when they were
introduced into evidence, and he must also demonstrate that his
Duplin County interview was either explanatory of or relevant to
the telephone calls.).
Here, the letters at issue were only copied in part before
they were mailed to Goins. As such, defendant argues that he could
not make an offer of proof as to the contents of the excluded
portions. Accordingly, defendant reasons that all of the lettersshould have been excluded pursuant to Rule 106. In essence,
defendant asks us to adopt a per se
rule of exclusion in situations
where only portions of a written or recorded statement are
available. We decline, however, to adopt this rule. First, we find
it instructive that our Supreme Court has held that even where
portions of a recorded statement are inaudible, a trial court may,
in its discretion, admit the audible portions of such statement.
See, e.g. State v. Womble
, 343 N.C. 667, 688-89, 473 S.E.2d 291,
303-04 (1996), cert. denied
, 519 U.S. 1095, 136 L. Ed. 2d 719,
, 520 U.S. 1111, 137 L. Ed. 2d 322 (1997). Likewise,
federal courts have not interpreted Rule 106 to require exclusion
where the government has inadvertently destroyed portions of a
statement. See, e.g
., United States v. Codrington
, 2008 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 35859 (E.D.N.Y. May 1, 2008).
Here, there is no evidence that the excluded portions of
defendants' letters to Goins have been destroyed. Given that
defendant wrote the letters at issue, he was in the best position
to know whether the excluded parts of the letters would have been
either explanatory or relevant. To the extent that they would have
aided in his defense, defendant had a duty to obtain those letters
from Goins during discovery and contemporaneously seek to introduce
the excluded portions at trial. Therefore, we hold that defendant
has failed to show that the trial court abused its discretion under
Rule 106 by allowing the State to introduce the photocopied
portions of the letters that defendant wrote to Goins while he was
III. Motions to Dismiss
Next on appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred in
denying defendant's motions to dismiss the charges of armed
robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and the four counts of
first-degree murder. We disagree.
In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the trial judge must
consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the State,
allowing every reasonable inference to be drawn therefrom. State v.
, 330 N.C. 557, 564, 411 S.E.2d 592, 595 (1992). The Court
must find that there is substantial evidence of each element of the
crime charged and of defendant's perpetration of such crime. Id.
"Substantial evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Id.
Whether the evidence presented is direct or circumstantial or
both, the test for sufficiency is the same. State v. Vause
N.C. 231, 237, 400 S.E.2d 57, 61 (1991). "Circumstantial evidence
may withstand a motion to dismiss and support a conviction even
when the evidence does not rule out every hypothesis of innocence."
State v. Stone
, 323 N.C. 447, 452, 373 S.E.2d 430, 433 (1988). If
the evidence supports a reasonable inference of defendant's guilt
based on the circumstances, then "it is for the jury to decide
whether the facts, taken singly or in combination, satisfy them
beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is actually guilty."
State v. Rowland
, 263 N.C. 353, 358, 139 S.E.2d 661, 665 (1965).
A. Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon and Conspiracy
To convict a defendant of the offense of robbery with a
dangerous weapon, in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-87 (2007),
the State must prove three elements: (1) the unlawful taking or
attempted taking of personal property from another; (2) the
possession, use or threatened use of firearms or other dangerous
weapon, implement or means; and (3) danger or threat to the life of
the victim. In re Stowe
, 118 N.C. App. 662, 664, 456 S.E.2d 336,
Conspiracy . . . is the agreement of two or more persons to
do an unlawful act or to do a lawful act by an unlawful means.
State v. Richardson
, 100 N.C. App. 240, 247, 395 S.E.2d 143, 148,
appeal dismissed and disc. review denied,
327 N.C. 641, 399 S.E.2d
332 (1990) (citation omitted). The reaching of an agreement is an
essential element of conspiracy. Id
. However, [i]n order to prove
conspiracy, the State need not prove an express agreement; evidence
tending to show a mutual, implied understanding will suffice.
State v. Morgan
, 329 N.C. 654, 658, 406 S.E.2d 833, 835 (1991).
This evidence may be circumstantial or inferred from the
defendant's behavior. State v. Choppy
, 141 N.C. App. 32, 39, 539
S.E.2d 44, 49 (2000), appeal dismissed and disc. review denied
N.C. 384, 547 S.E.2d 817 (2001). Thus, to survive defendant's
motion to dismiss with respect to the conspiracy charge required
that the State produce substantial evidence, which considered in
the light most favorable to the State, would allow a jury to find
beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant and Goins had at least animplied understanding that they were going to commit the armed
robbery of Billy Collins.
Defendant contends that the State's evidence was insufficient
in two respects. First, defendant contends that the State failed to
show that defendant committed an unlawful taking of or attempted
taking of Collins' personal property because none of Collins'
property was recovered from defendant and no witnesses testified
that they saw defendant with Collins' property. Second, defendant
argues that the State's evidence was insufficient to establish that
defendant and Goins agreed to commit the armed robbery of Billy
Collins because there were no witnesses who overheard the pair plan
to commit the robbery nor did anyone see them commit the crime. We
Here, the State presented evidence that Collins had $2,000 of
cash at his house, which he displayed in front of defendant and
Goins on the day that the victims were killed. Auntonius Sims
testified that he saw Goins and defendant on 20 August 2003; that
the pair was acting suspiciously; that Goins was shaking out of
her mind; and that defendant admitted to Sims that he and Goins
had gone to get some money, [but] things didn't go right. Leslie
Dale testified that on 21 August 2003, defendant and Goins secured
a new apartment, paying $560 in cash for the security deposit and
prorated rent. On 22 August 2003, payments of $150.27 and $299.32
were made on defendant's past due utility bills. In a letter
admitted at trial, defendant wrote to Goins that the two needed to
stick together. Thus, the State's evidence tended to establishthat Collins had two thousand dollars in his possession before he
was killed; that defendant and Goins were at Collins' home when
Collins was last seen alive; that the pair operated with a common
plan to get some money and needed to stick together; that the
pair acted suspiciously around the time that Collins was killed;
and that on the days immediately following Collins' murder,
defendant began spending hundreds of dollars.
While it is true that all of the evidence is circumstantial,
this evidence reasonably gives rise to inferences that defendant
and Goins (1) acted with a mutual understanding or plan and (2)
unlawfully took or attempted to take Collins' personal property.
Therefore, there was ample and sufficient evidence to allow the
jury to make reasonable inferences of defendant's guilt as to each
element of the crimes charged. See State v. Parker
, 354 N.C. 268,
279, 553 S.E.2d 885, 894 (2001), cert. denied
, 635 U.S. 1114, 153
L. Ed. 2d 162 (2002) (citations omitted) (Circumstantial evidence
is often made up of independent circumstances that point in the
same direction. These independent circumstances are like 'strands
in a rope, where no one of them may be sufficient in itself, but
all together may be strong enough to prove the guilt of the
defendant beyond reasonable doubt. . . . Every individual
circumstance must in itself at least tend
to prove the defendant's
guilt before it can be admitted as evidence.'); State v. Theer
181 N.C. App. 349, 355-57, 639 S.E.2d 655, 660-61, appeal
, 361 N.C. 702, 653 S.E.2d 159, cert. denied
, __ U.S. __,
653 S.E.2d 159 (2007), reh'g denied
, ___ U.S. ___, 171 L. Ed. 2d915 (2008) (holding that where the State offered circumstantial
evidence of a defendant's extramarital affair, ongoing marital
problems, financial status, insurance payout, and suspicious
behavior, there was substantial evidence to allow the jury to make
reasonable inferences of the defendant's guilt).
B. First-Degree Murder
First-degree murder is the intentional and unlawful killing of
a human being with malice and with premeditation and deliberation.
State v. Taylor
, 337 N.C. 597, 607, 447 S.E.2d 360, 367 (1994),
, 533 S.E.2d 475 (1999). Premeditation means that the
act was thought over beforehand for some length of time; however,
no particular amount of time is necessary for the mental process of
premeditation. State v. Warren
, 348 N.C. 80, 102, 499 S.E.2d 431,
443, cert. denied,
525 U.S. 915, 142 L. Ed. 2d 216 (1998), cert.
, 351 N.C. 369, 543 S.E.2d 145 (2000), cert. denied
, 359 N.C.
286, 610 S.E.2d 714 (2005). Deliberation means an intent to kill,
carried out in a cool state of blood, in furtherance of a fixed
design for revenge or to accomplish an unlawful purpose and not
under the influence of a violent passion, suddenly aroused by legal
provocation or lawful or just cause. Id.
Court held that want of provocation on the part of the deceased,
the conduct of and statements of the defendant before and after the
killing, the brutality of the murder, and attempts to cover up
involvement in the crime are among other circumstances from which
premeditation and deliberation can be inferred. Taylor
, 337 N.C.
at 607-08, 447 S.E.2d at 367. The elements necessary to establish first-degree murder under
the felony murder rule are (1) that the killing took place (2)
while the accused was perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate (3)
one of the enumerated felonies, which includes robbery. State v.
, 341 N.C. 658, 666, 462 S.E.2d 492, 498 (1995); N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 14-17.
Defendant contends that the State's evidence was insufficient
to establish that defendant committed first-degree murder because
there was no physical evidence to establish that defendant and
Goins were at Collins' house at the time that the victims were
killed. We disagree. As previously discussed, the State's evidence
tended to establish that defendant and Goins were at Collins' home
just hours before the victims were killed; that defendant admitted
to Auntonius Sims that he and Goins had a common plan to get some
money, but that things had gone badly; that all four victims died
from gunshot wounds to the head; and that the pair acted
suspiciously around and after the time of the crime. In addition,
police recovered a pair of blue jeans containing the blood of one
of the victims from the dumpster at defendant's apartment complex,
and the State introduced evidence that defendant told two separate
witnesses, Corporal Donny Baynard and inmate Gene Dickens, that he
had killed four people. Considered together, there was ample and
sufficient evidence to allow the jury to make reasonable inferences
that defendant intentionally and unlawfully killed the victims with
malice and with premeditation and deliberation. Defendant further contends that the State's evidence was
insufficient to establish charges of first-degree murder with
respect to Petrie and Sossaman under the felony murder rule because
the State's evidence was insufficient to establish the underlying
charge of armed robbery. As previously discussed, viewing the
State's evidence in the light most favorable to the State, there
was substantial evidence to support the underlying charge of armed
robbery. Therefore, there was substantial evidence from which the
jury could reasonably infer that the killing of Petrie and Sossaman
took place while the defendant was perpetrating or attempting to
perpetrate the robbery of Billy Collins. The trial court did not
err in denying defendant's motions to dismiss these charges.
IV. Blue Jeans
Finally, defendant contends that the trial court erred in
allowing the State to admit into evidence the pair of blue jeans
that law enforcement recovered from the dumpster in defendant's
apartment complex. Specifically, defendant argues that the blue
jeans should have been excluded under Rules 401, 402, and 403 of
the North Carolina Rules of Evidence because the State did not
prove that the pair of blue jeans was sufficiently connected to
defendant. We disagree.
A trial court's decision with regard to the admission of
evidence will only be reversed upon a showing of an abuse of
discretion. State v. McCree
, 160 N.C. App. 19, 28, 584 S.E.2d 348,
354, appeal dismissed and disc. review denied
, 357 N.C. 661, 590
S.E.2d 855 (2003). Defendant must show that the ruling wasmanifestly unsupported by reason and could not have been the
result of a reasoned decision. State v. Brown,
350 N.C. 193, 209,
513 S.E.2d 57, 67 (1999).
In State v. Bundridge
, 294 N.C. 45, 57-59, 239 S.E.2d 811,
820-21 (1978), our Supreme Court addressed an argument similar to
the one advanced by defendant. In Bundridge
, the defendant argued
that bloodstained clothing that had been collected from the
defendant's residence was of no probative value because the State
had failed to show that the defendant had worn the clothes on the
night of the alleged crime or that the stains on the clothes were
from the blood of the victim. Id.
at 58, 239 S.E.2d at 820. Our
Supreme Court rejected that argument and held the fact that there
was no direct evidence showing that the defendant had in fact worn
the clothing during the assault went to the weight of the evidence
rather than its admissibility. Id.
at 58-59, 239 S.E.2d at 820. The
Supreme Court in Bundridge
[I]n a criminal case, any evidence which sheds
light upon the supposed crime is admissible.
Evidence meets the test of relevancy if it has
any logical tendency, however slight, to prove
a fact in issue.
at 58, 239 S.E.2d at 820 (citations omitted).
Here, the blue jeans were stained with the blood of one of the
murdered victims, they were recovered from a dumpster at
defendant's apartment complex, and defendant was seen walking in
the direction of that dumpster. These facts create links in a chain
of circumstances which would permit, but not require, a jury to
infer that defendant was involved in the murder. We hold that thefact that there is no direct evidence showing that defendant wore
the clothing during the murders goes to the weight of the evidence
rather than its admissibility. As such, the trial court did not
abuse its discretion in allowing the State to admit this evidence
For the foregoing reasons, we find no error in defendant's
convictions, but we arrest judgment with respect to the robbery
with a dangerous weapon charge.
As to 03 CRS 18275, robbery with a dangerous weapon: Judgment
As to 03 CRS 19233, 03 CRS 62555, 03 CRS 62556, 03 CRS 62558,
03 CRS 62559: No error.
Judges McGEE and STROUD concur.