State v. Baker, 051920 NCCA, COA19-1039

Docket Nº:COA19-1039
Opinion Judge:BERGER, JUDGE.
Party Name:STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. JAMES EDSAL BAKER.
Attorney:Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Grace Linthicum, for the State. Law Office of Sandra Payne Hagood, by Sandra P. Haygood, for defendant-appellant.
Judge Panel:Judges DILLON and HAMPSON concur.
Case Date:May 19, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

v.

JAMES EDSAL BAKER.

No. COA19-1039

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 19, 2020

An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Heard in the Court of Appeals 29 April 2020.

Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 26 June 2019 by Judge Claire Hill in Harnett County Superior Court No. 16 CRS 53766.

Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Grace Linthicum, for the State.

Law Office of Sandra Payne Hagood, by Sandra P. Haygood, for defendant-appellant.

BERGER, JUDGE.

On June 26, 2019, a Harnett County jury convicted James Edsal Baker ("Defendant") of felony possession of stolen goods. Defendant appeals, alleging the trial court erred when it (1) denied his motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence; (2) admitted evidence relating to itemized purchase prices of the stolen goods over his objection; and (3) failed to give an Allen charge.

Factual and Procedural Background

In April 2016, Brian Norris ("Norris") stole chain saws, weed eaters, backpack blowers, power tools, and hedge cutters from the Town of Holly Springs Parks and Recreation Department. Norris sold the items to Defendant. Each of the stolen tools had a sticker labeled "Town of Holly Springs," along with a barcode that corresponded with the Town of Holly Springs asset marking system.

Detective James Reagan ("Det. Reagan") of the Harnett County Sherriff's Office received a phone call from Detective Michael MacDonald of the Fuquay-Varina Police Department. According to Det. Reagan, he recently conducted an interview with Norris, and indicated that Defendant's home may contain stolen property. When investigators went to Defendant's home, he consented to the search. While searching for the stolen property, investigators found, among other things, tools labeled "Town of Holly Springs."

Jim Cannata ("Cannata") with Town of Holly Springs created an itemized list of tools stolen from the city, along with the approximate purchase price of each item. To determine which tools were missing, Cannata compared the equipment in the Town of Holly Springs' garage with a logbook of all equipment owned by the Town of Holly Springs. Cannata then obtained invoices for the purchase of the missing tools and recorded the ID number and the purchase price for each item.

On April 1, 2019, Defendant was indicted on charges of felony possession of stolen goods and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Defendant's case came on for trial on June 24, 2019.

During deliberations, the jury informed the trial court that it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict at 2:27 p.m. In response, the trial court provided the Allen charge without objection by either party. The jury resumed deliberations at 2:30 p.m. and informed the court it had a unanimous verdict at 2:48 p.m. Upon the return of a guilty verdict on the charge of felony possession of stolen goods, Defendant requested the jury be polled. During polling, a single juror disavowed the verdict. At 2:54 p.m., the court instructed the jury that it did not have a unanimous verdict and they were to go back to the jury room to continue deliberating. Once the jury left the courtroom, Defendant moved for a mistrial, arguing that the jury was deadlocked. The trial court denied Defendant's motion stating that it wanted to "hear from the jury that they [were] deadlocked on [the charge of felony possession of stolen goods] so that [the court could] place that on the record." At 3:00 p.m., the jury again instructed the court that it had a unanimous verdict.

The jury found Defendant guilty of felony possession of stolen goods. Defendant appeals, alleging the trial court erred when it (1) denied his motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence; (2) admitted evidence relating to itemized purchase prices of the stolen goods over his objection; and (3) failed to give an Allen charge. We disagree.

Analysis I. Motion to Dismiss

Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss because the State's evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for felony possession of stolen goods. We disagree.

"This Court reviews the trial court's denial of a motion to dismiss de novo." State v. Smith, 186 N.C.App. 57, 62, 650 S.E.2d 29, 33 (2007) (citation omitted).

When ruling on a motion to dismiss the trial court must determine only whether there is substantial evidence of each essential element of the offense charged and of the defendant being the perpetrator of the offense. Substantial evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the trial...

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