261 S.E.2d 189 (N.C. 1980), 79, State v. Hunter

Docket Nº:79.
Citation:261 S.E.2d 189, 299 N.C. 29
Party Name:STATE of North Carolina v. Curtis Edward HUNTER.
Case Date:January 08, 1980
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina
 
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Page 189

261 S.E.2d 189 (N.C. 1980)

299 N.C. 29

STATE of North Carolina

v.

Curtis Edward HUNTER.

No. 79.

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

January 8, 1980

Page 190

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

[299 N.C. 31] By bills of indictment proper in form defendant was charged with (1) kidnapping and (2) raping Millicent Lorella Freeman. He pled not guilty and the state presented evidence summarized in pertinent part as follows:

On 27 October 1978 Ms. Freeman, age 25, was a junior at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh. At around 4:30 p. m. on that date, she had finished classes and was walking on Poole Road on the way to the home of her aunt. Before reaching her aunt's home, defendant (whom she did not know at the time) drove up in an automobile and stopped near Ms. Freeman. He asked her a question and, thinking that he was seeking directions, she stepped over to the passenger side of his automobile.

Defendant then produced a small pistol and ordered Ms. Freeman to get into his car. Complying with his order, she entered the car and defendant proceeded to drive on numerous streets in the eastern section of Raleigh. He suggested to Ms. Freeman that he was going to have sexual intercourse with her, and she pleaded with him not to harm her. In order to convince her that the pistol was real, he held it outside of the car and fired it.

Eventually defendant drove the car into a large parking lot at the corner of Glascock Street and King Charles Road. After talking with Ms. Freeman at that location for some period of time, defendant drove his automobile onto King Charles Road and stopped at a point adjacent to a wooded area. Upon orders from defendant, Ms. Freeman removed all of her clothing below her waist. Defendant then made her go with him into the wooded area. At that point he removed most of his clothing and proceeded to have sexual intercourse with Ms. Freeman. He also forced her to perform fellatio on him.

At all times while Ms. Freeman was with defendant he was either holding his pistol in his hand or had it close by. She [299 N.C. 32] entered defendant's car, remained in it, left it at the wooded area and had sexual intercourse with him because she was afraid that he would shoot her if she did not follow his directions.

After leaving the wooded area, defendant carried Ms. Freeman to an intersection near the Wake Medical Center where he released her. She then went to her apartment, police were called, and she was taken to the hospital emergency room for examination. Medical evidence showed that Ms. Freeman had engaged in sexual intercourse shortly before her examination at the emergency room.

Page 192

Defendant offered evidence, including his own testimony, which is briefly summarized as follows: On the day in question he was employed by the City of Raleigh as a garbage collector. As he started to work early that morning, he had a flat tire. He left the car at a service station to have the tire repaired and decided not to go to work. He spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon drinking intoxicants with one or more friends. After getting his car back about the middle of the afternoon, he proceeded to ride around. He had a pistol with him and laid it on the car seat beside him. While driving down Poole Road, he stopped for a traffic light at which time Ms. Freeman came up to his car and asked him if he was going to Worthdale. When he told her that he was, she got into the car. After they had gone about 200 yards, engaging in small talk, she asked him to take her to Wakefield Apartments. When he refused to grant her request, she got mad, gathered her "stuff" together and got out of the car. He did not see Ms. Freeman anymore and he did not have any sexual contact with her at any time.

Other pertinent evidence will be reviewed in the opinion.

The jury found defendant guilty of kidnapping and first-degree rape 1. From judgments imposing two life sentences, he appealed.

Atty. Gen. Rufus L. Edmisten by Associate Atty. Gen. Grayson G. Kelley, Raleigh, for the state.

James R. Fullwood, Raleigh, for defendant-appellant.

[299 N.C. 33] BRITT, Justice.

Defendant assigns as error the denial of his motion to suppress certain evidence obtained pursuant to a warrantless search of his automobile. There is no merit in this assignment.

Prior to trial defendant filed a motion asking that all evidence, including a pistol, hard hat, key chain, knife, coat and some gloves, seized by police from his automobile be suppressed because his automobile was searched and the property was seized without a search warrant, in violation of his constitutional rights.

The court conducted a Voir dire hearing on the motion at which investigating and arresting officers testified. Their evidence tended to show that Ms. Freeman reported the alleged offenses early in the evening of the day in question; that Officer C. K. Womble of the Raleigh Police Department went immediately to her apartment; that she provided him with a vivid description of defendant and his automobile; that Officer Womble related the descriptions of defendant and his automobile to the police radio dispatcher who, in turn, broadcasted the descriptions and other pertinent information over the police radio; that Officers Weingarten and Holloway of the Raleigh Police Department were on patrol that evening and were riding together; that they heard the broadcast relating to the suspect, his automobile and the crimes he allegedly had committed; that they observed an automobile being operated on a public street by a male person, both meeting the descriptions relayed on the broadcast; that they stopped the automobile and required the occupant, defendant, to get out; that defendant left the motor of his car running and stood just outside of the car; that one of the officers ran his hand under the front seat of the car and retrieved a loaded, cocked pistol therefrom; that the other items listed in the motion were lying on the seat of the automobile; and that defendant was arrested and taken to jail.

Defendant offered no evidence at the Voir dire. Since the evidence offered by the state was uncontradicted, the court made no findings of fact but made conclusions of law that the officers had probable cause to stop defendant's car and arrest him; that the search the officers conducted was incident to a lawful arrest and the seizure

Page 193

effected by the officers was valid; and that the seizure of the items which had been on the car seat was lawful [299 N.C. 34] under the plain view, exigent circumstances and probable cause doctrines.

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