185 S.E.2d 123 (N.C. 1971), 87, State v. Blackmon

Docket Nº:87.
Citation:185 S.E.2d 123, 280 N.C. 42
Party Name:STATE of North Carolina v. Johnny James BLACKMON.
Case Date:December 15, 1971
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina

Page 123

185 S.E.2d 123 (N.C. 1971)

280 N.C. 42

STATE of North Carolina


Johnny James BLACKMON.

No. 87.

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

December 15, 1971

Page 124

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 125

Atty. Gen. Robert Morgan and Deputy Atty. Gen. Ralph Moody, for the state.

Elton S. Hudson, Hopkins & Hudson, Albemarle, for defendant appellant.

MOORE, Justice.

Defendant first assigns as error the trial court's failure to allow defendant's motion for a change in venue or in the alternative for a special venire. In support of this motion defendant and his counsel filed affidavits. The affidavit of defendant's counsel stated that he had asked 47 individuals if they had seen or heard pre-trial publicity concerning the case. Of those interviewed 89.4% Had seen or heard the publicity. Of the 42 persons who had seen or heard the publicity, 34 expressed the opinion that the defendant was guilty and stated that they thought it was the general feeling in Stanly County that the defendant was guilty. The names of those interviewed were not disclosed and none of them filed affidavits. The affidavit of defendant stated that the Stanly News and Press is the only newspaper published in Stanly County and is widely read and circulated in the County. Attached to the motion were various articles concerning the crime in question which had been published in this newspaper. The newspaper articles did not discuss the details of any evidence against the defendant but only that Mr. Howell was killed and that a shotgun was used in the killing, and the fact that defendant and Craven Turner had been arrested and charged with the crime. The State examined seven witnesses--two law-enforcement officers and five who had been in various businesses in Stanly County for many years--all of whom expressed the opinion that the defendant could get a fair trial in that County.

Prospective jurors were examined concerning whether or not they had been influenced by any articles in the newspaper. This examination showed that several jurors had not read about the case at all and that some had read about it when it first happened. There was no evidence to show that any juror had been unduly influenced by these articles or that there had been [280 N.C. 46] any inflammatory press reports.

Page 126

A motion for change of venue or a special venire is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial judge, and an abuse of discretion must be shown before there is any error. Here, no such abuse is shown. State v. Ray, 274 N.C. 556, 164 S.E.2d 457 (1968); State v. Brown, 271 N.C. 250, 156 S.E.2d 272 (1967); State v. Porth, 269 N.C. 329, 153 S.E.2d 10 (1967); State v. Childs, 269 N.C. 307, 152 S.E.2d 453 (1967); State v. McKethan, 269 N.C. 81, 152 S.E.2d 341 (1967).

Defendant next assigns as error the trial court's denial of defendant's motion for a continuance. Defendant was arrested and a warrant charging him with the murder of James Alexander Howell was served on him on 19 February 1971. Defendant was indicted at the 22 February 1971 Session of the Superior Court of Stanly County, and Elton S. Hudson was appointed as attorney for defendant on 24 February 1971. Defendant's trial began on 29 March 1971. Counsel for defendant had one month and four days in which to prepare for the defense of his client. Defendant's motion for continuance is...

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