State v. Badgett

Decision Date04 May 2007
Docket NumberNo. 522A04.,522A04.
Citation644 S.E.2d 206
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE of North Carolina v. John Scott BADGETT.

Roy Cooper, Attorney General, by John H. Watters, Special Deputy Attorney General, and Rudy Renfer, Assistant Attorney General, for the state.

James R. Glover, Chapel Hill, for defendant-appellant.

MARTIN, Justice.

On 3 March 2003, John Scott Badgett (defendant) was indicted for the armed robbery and first-degree murder of Grover Arthur Kizer (victim). Defendant was tried capitally at the 19 April 2004 criminal session of Randolph County Superior Court. Defendant's conviction for first-degree murder was based on a theory of malice, premeditation, and deliberation, and the felony murder rule. Following a capital sentencing proceeding, the jury recommended a sentence of death. The trial court entered judgment accordingly and arrested judgment on the robbery conviction. Defendant gave notice of appeal pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-27(a).

The evidence admitted during the guilt-innocence phase of defendant's trial tended to show the following: On or about 20 November 2002, defendant went to the victim's house looking for a place to spend the night. The victim had allowed defendant and another friend to stay the night at his home a few weeks earlier. On this occasion, the victim again offered defendant shelter.

At some point in the evening the victim, who suffered from a mental disability, began complaining to defendant about his next-door neighbors. He explained to defendant his belief that the police had failed to respond adequately to complaints he had made against the neighbors. At some point, the victim began yelling about "workers of iniquity" and pointing his finger at defendant.

Defendant argued briefly with the victim, then opened a folding pocketknife and stabbed him in the neck. The stabbing severed the victim's right carotid artery and damaged his trachea, Adam's apple, and windpipe. As blood squirted from his neck, the victim ran to a telephone in his kitchen. Defendant followed the victim into the kitchen and slashed the victim's right arm with the pocketknife, leaving a deep wound. The victim picked up the telephone to call for help, but defendant pushed him away from the phone, knocking him to the floor. The victim fell prostrate, dying within a few minutes.

Once the victim was dead, defendant stole the victim's wallet containing his driver's license and five dollars in cash. Defendant then ransacked the victim's house, stealing a substantial amount of cash from a set of envelopes in the victim's bedroom, as well as a flashlight. Defendant then returned to his residence, where he hid evidence of the murder. Defendant later traded the murder weapon for five dollars worth of crack cocaine.

A few days later, defendant returned to the victim's house and entered by using the stolen flashlight to break a glass door at the rear of the house. Defendant stole numerous collectable coins of value, some of which he later exchanged for drugs. Defendant also stole clothing, a butcher knife, a cigarette lighter bearing an inscription of the victim's name, a number of coins in saving containers, wrist watches, and a pocket watch. Finally, he stole keys to the victim's house and vehicles. Defendant then left in the victim's truck, leaving the house in disarray with coins strewn across the floor.

Defendant became a suspect when the stolen truck linked him to the murder. Police had recovered the stolen truck, which contained numerous collectable coins belonging to the victim. When police apprehended defendant, he was in possession of one of the victim's coins. Police brought defendant to the Asheboro Police Department for questioning. Defendant initially lied about the murder, but admitted to staying at the victim's home approximately two weeks earlier and riding in the victim's truck. Defendant eventually gave police a signed confession, which described the details of the murder.

Defendant's description of the murder matched the evidence police later recovered from defendant's residence. This evidence consisted of most of the items defendant stole from the victim, as well as defendant's blood-stained shoes from the night of the murder. Additionally, police later recovered the murder weapon and traced it to defendant.

The details of defendant's confession also matched the story defendant told James Parker and Randy Marks, two individuals with whom defendant was incarcerated at different times following his arrest. According to Parker, defendant admitted that he had stabbed the victim because the victim was "running his mouth."

The state also introduced evidence that defendant had killed another individual, J.C. Chriscoe, in October 1992. On that occasion, defendant had attempted to obtain marijuana from Chriscoe's roommate, who sold him tobacco instead. When defendant went to confront Chriscoe's roommate, Chriscoe answered the door and quickly became angry with defendant. The two exchanged blows, and defendant ran up a flight of stairs to the second floor of the house. Chriscoe, who was unarmed, followed defendant into a bedroom. The fight ended when defendant stabbed Chriscoe in the neck with a folding pocketknife. Defendant confessed the details of this killing to police and provided them with a statement. Police were able to recover the pocketknife used to kill Chriscoe in the neighborhood in which defendant lived at the time. Defendant was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for killing Chriscoe.

Defendant offered no evidence in the guilt-innocence phase. Additional evidence admitted during the capital sentencing proceeding tended to show the following:

After defendant pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 1993 for killing Chriscoe, defendant received counseling while incarcerated to address anger management issues. At trial, defendant described the counseling program as "kind of silly," and admitted that he eventually decided not to complete it.

After serving his sentence for manslaughter, defendant took up residence in Randolph County. Within six months, he resumed his use of alcohol and cocaine. Defendant sought and obtained treatment for substance abuse and received anger management counseling. After completing the treatment program, defendant stayed at a halfway house and later a boarding house. He was asked to leave that location, however, and afterwards had no place to live. After a brief stay with an acquaintance, defendant began sleeping in a storage room next to a grocery store. On one occasion, however, the victim allowed defendant to sleep in his house along with Tim Morris, a friend of defendant's from prison who knew the victim. On the night defendant killed the victim, defendant had come to the victim's house seeking shelter from the cold November temperatures outside.

After being charged with murder in the instant case, defendant once again sought counseling. Defendant met with a psychologist, Dr. Thomas Ansbro, and two psychiatrists, Dr. Thomas Gresalfi and Dr. Elizabeth Pekarek. All three mental health care providers concluded that defendant suffered from irritability, anger management problems, and depression. Additionally, Dr. Pekarek tentatively diagnosed defendant with Tourette's Disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and prominent antisocial traits. During one of his follow-up visits, however, defendant informed Dr. Pekarek that he had stabbed another inmate after waiting for hours for an ideal opportunity to commit the assault. Acknowledging that such planned, deliberate attacks were inconsistent with intermittent explosive disorder, Dr. Pekarek retreated from her initial diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder. Neither Dr. Ansbro nor Dr. Gresalfi diagnosed defendant with intermittent explosive disorder.

Defendant admitted in open court that he killed the victim and recounted the details of the murder, which matched his previous confession to police. In addition, defendant admitted that he: (1) watched the victim die after pushing him to the floor; (2) cleaned the victim's blood off the murder weapon in the victim's sink; and (3) asked his cellmate's mother to retrieve the victim's wallet after he was arrested for the murder.

Defendant admitted to the following violent acts over the previous seventeen years: (1) assaulting a coworker with a barstool in 1987; (2) assaulting a houseguest with a barstool in 1991; (3) assaulting an individual at a party in 1992; (4) fatally stabbing Chriscoe in 1992; (4) stabbing another inmate while in prison in 1994; (5) assaulting another inmate in the head in 1997; (6) assaulting another individual in 2000; (7) murdering the victim in 2002; and (8) stabbing another inmate while in jail awaiting trial in the instant case.

Defendant concluded his direct testimony in the penalty phase with the following statement: "I just would like this to stop somewhere. You have the power to stop the seventeen-year-span of violence that I've left behind. I'm just tired of causing everyone pain." This implicit request for the death penalty was consistent with defendant's earlier behavior. Prior to trial, defendant wrote numerous letters to the trial court and the Randolph County District Attorney expressing his desire for a speedy trial resulting in a death sentence.

Additional facts and descriptions of events at trial, as necessary to an understanding of defendant's arguments, are set forth below.


Defendant first contends the trial court erred by denying his motion in limine to exclude evidence related to defendant's 1992 killing of J.C. Chriscoe under N.C. R. Evid. 404(b). After thoroughly comparing the...

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