528 S.E.2d 326 (N.C. 2000), 241A97, State v. Wallace

Docket Nº:241A97.
Citation:528 S.E.2d 326, 351 N.C. 481
Party Name:STATE of North Carolina v. Henry Louis WALLACE.
Case Date:May 05, 2000
Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina

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528 S.E.2d 326 (N.C. 2000)

351 N.C. 481

STATE of North Carolina


Henry Louis WALLACE.

No. 241A97.

Supreme Court of North Carolina

May 5, 2000

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[351 N.C. 486] Appeal as of right pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-27(a) from judgments imposing nine sentences of death entered by Johnston, J., on 29 January 1997 in Superior Court, Mecklenburg County, upon jury verdicts finding defendant guilty of nine counts of first-degree murder. Defendant's motion to bypass the Court of Appeals as to his appeal of additional judgments was allowed by the Supreme Court on 9 March 1999. Heard in the Supreme Court 16 November 1999.

Michael F. Easley, Attorney General, by Ellen B. Scouten, Special Deputy Attorney General, for the State.

Malcolm Ray Hunter, Jr., Appellate Defender, by Benjamin Dowling-Sendor, Assistant Appellate Defender, for defendant-appellant.

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On 4 April 1994, defendant Henry Louis Wallace was indicted for the murders of (1) Caroline Love, (2) Shawna Hawk, (3) Audrey Ann Spain, (4) Valencia M. Jumper, (5) Michelle Stinson, (6) Vanessa Little Mack, (7) Betty Jean Baucom, (8) Brandi June Henderson, and (9) Deborah Slaughter. In addition, defendant was indicted for the following crimes: (1) first-degree rape of Love, (2) second-degree rape of Hawk, (3) two counts of second-degree sexual offense against Hawk (fellatio and cunnilingus), (4) first-degree rape of Spain, (5) robbery with a dangerous weapon of Spain, (6) first-degree rape of [351 N.C. 487] Jumper, (7) first-degree sexual offense against Jumper, (8) first-degree rape of Stinson, (9) first-degree sexual offense against Stinson, (10) first-degree rape of Mack, (11) robbery with a dangerous weapon of Mack, (12) first-degree rape of Baucom, (13) robbery with a dangerous weapon of Baucom, (14) first-degree rape of Henderson, (15) robbery with a dangerous weapon of Henderson, (16) assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury against T.W., Henderson's ten-month-old son, (17) assault on a child under twelve years of age against T.W., (18) first-degree rape of Slaughter, and (19) robbery with a dangerous weapon of Slaughter.

Between September 1996 and January 1997, defendant was tried capitally before a jury. On 7 January 1997, the jury found defendant guilty of nine counts of first-degree murder, each on the basis of malice, premeditation, and deliberation, and under the felony murder rule. In addition, the jury found defendant guilty of eight counts of first-degree rape, one count of second-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual offense, two counts of second-degree sexual offense, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of assault on a child under the age of twelve, and five counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

After a capital sentencing proceeding, the jury recommended a sentence of death for each of the nine counts of first-degree murder. On 29 January 1997, the trial court entered judgment in accordance with the recommendations and sentenced defendant to nine death sentences. In addition, the trial court sentenced defendant to eight consecutive life sentences for the first-degree rape convictions, a consecutive forty-year sentence for the second-degree rape conviction, two consecutive life sentences for the first-degree sexual offense convictions, two consecutive forty-year sentences for the second-degree sexual offense convictions, five consecutive forty-year sentences for the robbery with a dangerous weapon convictions, and a consecutive two-year sentence for the assault on a child under the age of twelve conviction. The trial court arrested judgment on the assault with a deadly weapon conviction. Defendant appeals to this Court as of right from the sentences of death. Defendant's motion to bypass the Court of Appeals on the other convictions was allowed by this Court on 9 March 1999.

The State presented evidence tending to show that defendant murdered nine women in the Charlotte area over a two-year period. Defendant was identified as a suspect in three of the later murders by [351 N.C. 488] a palm print found on the car of one of the victims. As will be detailed below, defendant was arrested on an outstanding larceny charge and interrogated by police. He confessed to the murders of Caroline Love, Shawna Hawk, Audrey Spain, Valencia Jumper, Michelle Stinson, Vanessa Mack, Betty Baucom, Brandi Henderson, and Deborah Slaughter. The State presented the following evidence:

Caroline Love Murder

On 15 June 1992, Caroline Love was living in an apartment with Sadie McKnight, defendant's girlfriend. That night, after completing her shift at the Bojangles' restaurant on Central Avenue in Charlotte, Love asked the night manager if she could buy a roll of quarters to do her laundry. The night manager exchanged a roll of quarters for a ten-dollar bill, and Love left the premises. As Love walked toward her apartment, her cousin, Robert Ross, saw her walking, offered her a ride, and drove her home. Ross watched as Love entered her apartment.

A few days later, Love's employer contacted Love's sister, Kathy Love (Kathy), and informed her that Love had not come to work in two days. Kathy went to Love's

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apartment and left a note. However, the next day, Kathy was again informed Love had not come to work. Kathy then contacted defendant, whom she knew, to find Love's roommate, McKnight. Kathy, McKnight, and defendant went to the police station to file a missing person report. Later, Kathy went into Love's apartment. She noticed that some of the furniture had been moved and that the sheets from Love's bed were missing, but there was no evidence of Love's whereabouts. During the investigation of the missing person report, Investigator Tony Rice of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department determined that the roll of quarters Love bought prior to leaving work on 15 June 1992 was missing from her apartment. Love was not found as a result of the missing person report.

On 13 March 1994, defendant confessed to the murder of Caroline Love. At trial, the State introduced redacted versions of defendant's tape-recorded confession. In the confession, defendant stated he made a copy of McKnight's house key and went to the apartment when neither McKnight nor Love was there. Defendant heard Love enter the apartment. He indicated to Love that he was in the bathroom and would leave as soon as he came out. Upon coming out of the bathroom, however, defendant went into the living room where Love was watching television and kissed her on the cheek. Love [351 N.C. 489] promised not to tell McKnight about the kiss if defendant promised not to do it again. Defendant then put his arms around Love in a manner similar to a wrestling choke hold. Defendant confessed that there was a scuffle, that Love scratched him on his arms and face, and that he kept holding Love until she passed out. Defendant then moved Love to her bedroom, removed her clothes, tied her hands behind her back with the cord of a curling iron, and placed tape over her mouth. Defendant had oral sex and sexual intercourse with Love, during which she was semiconscious. While engaged in intercourse with Love, defendant continued to apply the choke hold because Love began to regain consciousness. Defendant applied the choke hold until Love's body became limp. Defendant stated he could tell she was still alive because he could feel her heart and pulse. Afterwards, defendant strangled Love to death.

Defendant further confessed that he left the apartment to move his car closer to the stairwell and then returned to the apartment with a large orange trash bag. Defendant wrapped Love's body in a bed sheet and put the body inside the trash bag. Defendant placed some clothing into another bag to make it appear Love had left. Defendant carried the bags down the stairs, placed them in the backseat of his car, and then drove around Charlotte trying to find a place to dump Love's body. Defendant stopped the car while driving down Statesville Road, removed the trash bag containing Love's body from his car, and dumped the bag into the woods. The following day, defendant drove back to the location because he feared the orange bag would be noticeable from the road. Defendant stated that he removed the body from the orange trash bag and then moved the body into a shallow ravine. Defendant also admitted taking a roll of quarters from Love's dresser.

Later on 13 March 1994, after defendant's confession, defendant directed Rice and other investigators to the site where he had dumped Love's body. Subsequently, Dr. James Michael Sullivan, a forensic pathologist and medical examiner employed by the Medical Examiner's Office of Mecklenburg County, went to the area of Statesville Road to recover Love's skeletal remains. Dr. Sullivan performed an autopsy on those remains. Based on the history provided by the police, the absence of any significant findings to contradict a history of strangulation, and the location of the unclothed remains in a wooded area, Dr. Sullivan determined that the cause of death was homicide by means of strangulation.

[351 N.C. 490] Shawna Hawk Murder

In February 1993, Shawna Hawk was living with her mother, Sylvia Denise Sumpter, in Charlotte. Hawk was a paralegal student at Central Piedmont Community College and worked at a Taco Bell restaurant on Sharon Amity Road, where defendant was her manager. On 19 February 1993, Sumpter arrived home and began to cook dinner.

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Hawk's car was not there, but Sumpter saw Hawk's coat and purse in a closet. This seemed unusual because it was very cold outside, Hawk never went...

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