451 S.E.2d 600 (N.C. 1994), 278A93, State v. Hardy

Docket Nº:278A93.
Citation:451 S.E.2d 600, 339 N.C. 207
Party Name:STATE of North Carolina v. Charles Frances HARDY, Jr.
Case Date:December 30, 1994
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina

Page 600

451 S.E.2d 600 (N.C. 1994)

339 N.C. 207

STATE of North Carolina


Charles Frances HARDY, Jr.

No. 278A93.

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

December 30, 1994

Page 601

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 602

Michael F. Easley, Atty. Gen. by William B. Crumpler, Associate Atty. Gen., for the State.

Malcolm Ray Hunter, Jr., Appellate Defender by Daniel R. Pollitt, Asst. Appellate Defender, for defendant-appellant.

EXUM, Chief Justice.

On 20 April 1992 defendant was indicted for the murder of his wife. Defendant was tried noncapitally, found guilty of first-degree

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murder, and on 15 December 1992 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Defendant and his wife, Karen Hardy, were married on 4 July 1980. They had two children together and Karen had a daughter from a previous marriage. They opened a restaurant, the Mountaineer Restaurant, in King's Mountain. Their marriage, however, turned sour and they eventually separated; in August 1991 defendant moved out of the family home. Defendant slept at the restaurant until March [339 N.C. 213] 1992 at which time he moved into a mobile home. He and Karen continued, however, to operate the restaurant together.

In January or February of 1992 Chad England, who lived with the Hardys, witnessed defendant and Karen arguing at the restaurant. Defendant attempted to strike her with his open hand but Karen deflected the blow.

On 27 February 1992 defendant and Karen had another altercation at the restaurant according to Alan Davis, who worked at the restaurant. It occurred around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. and concerned defendant's desire to be reunited with his wife. Defendant was upset and threw items around the restaurant. As defendant's wife left the restaurant, he said, "Karen, I will kill you, bitch." Defendant followed Karen to her car where he pounded on the car and attempted to enter the car. He managed to get inside and started beating Karen. She attempted to block the blows. Davis removed defendant from Karen as defendant put his hands around her neck. Karen then drove off. Defendant was very upset and angry. Davis described defendant as having an explosive temper, and arguments between defendant and Karen were usually started by defendant.

Karen made an entry in her diary regarding the incident in the restaurant; it stated in part that defendant "[s]creamed he was going to kill me." It also indicated that a harassment charge had been filed against defendant. The full diary entry is set forth in Issue IV. This diary was found by Karen's mother after her death.

On 4 March 1992 Roy Pennington, who operates a produce stand near the restaurant, saw Karen arrive at the restaurant at 4:50 a.m. Mike Medlin, a delivery man for a meat packing company, arrived at the restaurant at 6:30 a.m. to make a delivery. There were no lights on, which was unusual. He entered and found Karen's body on the kitchen floor; her blouse was pulled up and one breast was exposed. He told a companion to call the police.

Defendant soon arrived at the restaurant. He drove up in his station wagon and asked Medlin and Evalina Thompson, who had arrived on the scene, if something was wrong inside. He entered the restaurant, turned the lights on, and said, "Oh, my God, that's my wife." Defendant then went to the restroom, whereupon Medlin heard him make noises as though he were vomiting.

Officer Ben Melvin of the King's Mountain Police Department arrived between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. He spoke to defendant, who said [339 N.C. 214] he had awakened late and called his son, who informed him that Karen had already left for the restaurant. Defendant said he called the restaurant but there was no answer. He then went to the restaurant, where he found two men outside. He said there was supposed to be money inside. Defendant was nervous and upset; Melvin heard defendant making vomiting noises in the restroom. The drive-through window was ajar and, according to an officer, appeared to have been jimmied; a candy machine and soda bottles were overturned on the floor near the window.

Officer Houston Corn arrived around 6:47 a.m. He observed defendant at a table in the restaurant. Defendant was nervous but not crying. Defendant exited the restaurant with others at the request of Corn. Corn noticed defendant pacing back and forth in front of the restaurant. As he walked past his vehicle, defendant would glance in the window on the passenger side of the back door. Defendant walked by at least three or four times looking in the back.

Officer Corn then walked by the vehicle, at which time he saw a beige jacket inside. Beneath the jacket was a beige money bag with blood and hair on it. Corn described this finding to Lieutenant Reynolds. Reynolds then looked in the station wagon and

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saw the items also. The back seat had been folded forward to make a flat cargo area. The bag was on the back of the rear seat near the passenger window. The doors to the station wagon were unlocked.

Agent Crawford and Reynolds approached defendant and asked him to go to the police department. Crawford identified himself and said he needed to speak with defendant if defendant were willing. Crawford asked defendant if he was the victim's husband and defendant said that he was. Crawford asked defendant if he would be willing to talk at a later time, and defendant said yes. Crawford then asked if defendant would like to go to the police department, and defendant said that he would because he would like to get away from the crime scene.

Corn transported defendant to the police department. At approximately 9:00 a.m. defendant signed a Miranda waiver form. Defendant then made a statement which was recorded. He stated that he went to the restaurant at 5:30 a.m. to try to talk with his wife. His intent upon going to the restaurant was that he wanted her back. He left the lights off "[b]ecause [he] just wanted to talk to her." Upon her arrival he said, "Karen, let's talk." She was angry. They had a confrontation during which she called him a homosexual. He explained that his wife [339 N.C. 215] had known that he was a homosexual and that she said she was never going back to a homosexual like him. Then "it just snapped." He got a knife from the kitchen, held his wife down, and stabbed her. She quit moving. Defendant took the money in an attempt to make the crime appear to involve a robbery. He then left and went back to his trailer. He said he threw his clothes out as he was driving. Defendant said he spent the previous night with a friend, Marty Kee, who knew nothing of the murder.

After the interview defendant and officers searched the highway unsuccessfully for the clothes defendant said he had thrown out. They then went to the home of Martin Spencer, a friend of defendant, at defendant's direction. Officers spoke with Spencer, after which officers searched the wooded area near Spencer's trailer.

Martin Spencer testified that on 3 March 1992 defendant arrived at his home between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. and said his wife wanted a divorce. Defendant asked if he could spend the night there. They went to bed between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m.

Spencer arose at 6:00 a.m. and noticed that defendant was gone. Defendant soon arrived wearing sweat pants with blood on them. Spencer asked defendant about the blood. Defendant said that he had killed his wife at the restaurant with a knife by cutting her jugular vein. He said the "bread man" saw him leaving the restaurant. Defendant and Spencer went to defendant's trailer where defendant changed into new clothes and placed his old clothes in a plastic bag which he asked Spencer to burn. As Spencer was leaving defendant's trailer, defendant said, "Burn them clothes, now, Marty. Burn them because the bread man saw me leaving and this here's evidence." Spencer returned to his trailer and hid the clothes in the woods. He burned some garbage to make defendant think he was burning the clothes, after which defendant left. Later that day, at about 1:30 p.m., an officer went to Spencer's trailer. Spencer took him to the bag of clothes in the woods.

On that same day, after defendant signed a consent to search form, SBI agent William Lane examined the vehicle in which the money bag had been seen. At about 1:50 p.m. he entered the car and retrieved the money bag, in which he found three bank bags containing $700. He also seized a sock from the vehicle. The money bag appeared to have blood and hair on it.

[339 N.C. 216] An autopsy revealed that the victim had multiple wounds to her chest, neck, head and hands. Several of the wounds were defensive wounds. The victim bled to death as a result of both of her carotid arteries being severed.

A forensic serologist for the SBI analyzed several items found in connection with the investigation. The sock and money bag had blood on them consistent with that of the victim. Hair on the money bag was consistent with the victim's head hair. Numerous items of clothing in the plastic bag in the

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woods had blood consistent with that of the victim; they were a pair of jockey shorts, a shirt, a jacket, a sock, blue jeans, and sweat pants.

Defendant wrote a letter to Karen's mother in which he expressed his sadness over her death and made incriminating statements such as, "I know there are no words that could be said to adjust to the loss I have caused all of us," and, "I will also live in a sure hell in my heart and my mind for what I have done...."


Defendant first argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress inculpatory statements he made to officers Crawford and Reynolds on the ground these statements were involuntary. Defendant moved to suppress these statements. The trial court conducted a voir dire hearing during which officers Crawford, Reynolds...

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