286 S.E.2d 535 (N.C. 1982), 73, State v. Hunter

Docket Nº:73.
Citation:286 S.E.2d 535, 305 N.C. 106
Party Name:STATE of North Carolina v. Dwayne Tyrone HUNTER.
Case Date:January 27, 1982
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina
 
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Page 535

286 S.E.2d 535 (N.C. 1982)

305 N.C. 106

STATE of North Carolina

v.

Dwayne Tyrone HUNTER.

No. 73.

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

January 27, 1982

Page 536

Appeal by defendant pursuant to G.S. 7A-27(a) from Brewer, J., at the 2 February 1981 Session of Robeson County Superior Court.

[305 N.C. 107] Defendant was charged in a bill of indictment with the first-degree murder of Theodore Roosevelt Mosby. He entered a plea of not guilty.

The State offered evidence tending to show that on 8 September 1980 neighbors discovered Mosby's body in his house trailer. He was nude and the body was in an upright position in a chair and a white cloth was grasped in his hand. When officers were summoned, they found the front door open. They entered by unlatching the screen door through a cut place in the screen. A window in the rear of the trailer was broken and pieces of glass were discovered the next day in a nearby field which "could have been" from the broken window. The officers took a window from the rear of Mosby's trailer and transported it to the S.B.I. office in Raleigh for fingerprint identification. At trial Special Agent Duncan of the S.B.I. testified that one of the fingerprints lifted from the window matched a fingerprint of defendant.

Deputy Sheriff Collins stated that he received an S.B.I. report on 19 September 1980. On the same day, Officer Mitchell "picked Mr. Hunter up." Defendant was carried to the Sheriff's office in Lumberton, where he was advised of his constitutional rights and placed under arrest. Defendant signed a waiver of his constitutional rights including right to have counsel present, and after about three hours of questioning signed the following inculpatory statement:

On Saturday, 9-6-80, I went to the Mosby trailer. I went in and sat down. This must have been about 10:30 at night. When I got there, he was sitting there naked, so I asked him could I use the bathroom. So I went to the bathroom. So I cut on the light switch. They wouldn't come on. So he told me how to cut them on from the switch box in the room. So after I finished, I cut them out. Before I cut the lights out, I tried to close the window. It wouldn't completely close. So, after I left out of there, I went back in there and sat down. He started talking to me, asking me did I like men, and stuff like that, and so he asked me if I ever sucked anybody off, or had anybody ever sucked me off, so he started

Page 537

trying to feel of me, so I started pushing him away. So he went to the kitchen and when he came back, he was laughing and had a knife, so he grabbed me and was trying to make me mess with him. So [305 N.C. 108] he stuck me with the knife. I grabbed his hand and took the knife. So I was scared. I started stabbing him with it. So after I struck him, he was standing up and he slapped me in the face. When I struck him that's when the knife broke. That was before he slapped me. So after he slapped me, I ran out of the trailer, and that was it. I went down to Sarah Lee McCallum's house and I stayed there awhile and after I left, I went home.

After making the statement, defendant led the officers to the place where he had disposed of the knife. He was carried before a magistrate after the knife was recovered.

At defendant's request prior to the introduction of the confession, Judge Brewer conducted a voir dire hearing at which the State and defendant offered evidence as to the voluntariness of defendant's confession. At the conclusion of this hearing, Judge Brewer after finding facts and entering conclusions of law ruled that the confession be admitted, if otherwise competent. The evidence of defendant's confession was admitted over his objection.

Defendant testified in his own behalf and denied that he stabbed the victim, Mosby, and gave testimony which tended to incriminate John Manning as the killer. Defendant admitted making a statement that he stabbed Mosby but testified that it resulted from the officers' threats and coercion.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty of second-degree murder, and the trial judge imposed a sentence of life imprisonment.

Rufus L. Edmisten, Atty. Gen. by David Roy Blackwell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Raleigh, for the State.

Malcolm R. Hunter, Jr., Asst. Appellate Defender, Raleigh, for defendant-appellant.

BRANCH, Chief Justice.

Defendant assigns as error the trial judge's ruling admitting into evidence the incriminating statement made by him to police officers.

[305 N.C. 109] In support of this assignment of error, defendant first argues that his confession and the seizure of the knife were inadmissible into evidence because they were tainted by a warrantless and illegal arrest.

When defense counsel requested a voir dire hearing, the trial judge properly excused the jury and heard evidence from the State and defendant concerning the voluntariness of defendant's confession. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court, inter alia, found and concluded:

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