State v. Bates

Decision Date31 July 1996
Docket NumberNo. 145A91-2,145A91-2
Citation343 N.C. 564,473 S.E.2d 269
PartiesSTATE of North Carolina v. Joseph Earl BATES.
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

W. David Lloyd, Greensboro, for defendant-appellant.

FRYE, Justice.

Defendant, Joseph Earl Bates, was indicted on 29 October 1990 for the murder and the first-degree kidnapping of Charles Edwin Jenkins. He was tried capitally in February 1991, found guilty of one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping, and sentenced to death for the first-degree murder conviction. On appeal, we awarded defendant a new trial. State v. Bates, 333 N.C. 523, 428 S.E.2d 693, cert. denied, 510 U.S. 984, 114 S.Ct. 487, 126 L.Ed.2d 438 (1993). During defendant's second capital trial, the jury returned verdicts of guilty of one count of first-degree kidnapping and guilty of one count of first-degree murder on the basis of premeditation and deliberation and under the felony murder rule. During a capital sentencing proceeding conducted pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000, the jury recommended a sentence of death for the first-degree murder conviction. The jury found as aggravating circumstances that the murder was committed while defendant was engaged in the commission of a kidnapping, N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000(e)(5) (1988); and that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000(e)(9) (1988). The jury also found seven of the seventeen statutory and nonstatutory mitigating circumstances submitted to it. On 9 November 1994, Judge Rousseau sentenced defendant to forty years in prison for his first-degree kidnapping conviction, and upon the jury's recommendation, he imposed a sentence of death for defendant's first-degree murder conviction.

Defendant appeals to this Court as of right from the first-degree murder conviction; he does not appeal the kidnapping conviction. Defendant makes twenty-four arguments on appeal, supported by thirty-one assignments of error. We reject each of these arguments and conclude that defendant's trial and capital sentencing proceeding were free of prejudicial error and that the death sentence is not disproportionate. Accordingly, we uphold defendant's conviction of first-degree murder and his sentence of death.

The State's evidence presented at trial tended to show the following facts and circumstances: At approximately 9:30 p.m. on 10 August 1990, defendant spoke with Hal Eddleman, his employer, inside defendant's tent, which was located on Eddleman's land. Eddleman allowed defendant to set up a campsite on his property after someone had At around 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. on 11 August 1990, defendant and Gary Shaver went to LaDan's Night Club. Janette Turner, a part-time waitress at LaDan's, and Billy Grimes, Turner's boyfriend and defendant's friend, were also at LaDan's that night. Grimes left LaDan's at around 12:30 or 1:00 a.m. on 12 August 1990. Grimes and Turner planned to meet at Bran's Game Room at the end of Turner's shift. At about 1:45 a.m., defendant asked Turner to ask Grimes to telephone Eddleman and said that Grimes and Eddleman would know what was going on. When Turner left LaDan's at around 2:00 or 2:30 a.m., she went to Bran's to meet Grimes. When she arrived at Bran's, Turner relayed defendant's message to Grimes.

                broken into and fired gunshots into defendant's house.  Defendant told Eddleman, "There's something going down at [the] Donnaha [bridge].  This guy got in touch with me, and told me to meet him over at Donnaha, we'd get it over with."   As a result of this conversation, at approximately 11:30 p.m. on 10 August 1990, Eddleman and his wife went to the Donnaha bridge, which extends across the Yadkin River.  They remained there for approximately two to two and one-half hours.  After seeing no one, they returned home and went to bed

Grimes testified at trial that when Turner relayed defendant's message to telephone Eddleman and tell him that something was "going down" and that they knew what it was all about, he did not know what it was all about. Nonetheless, Grimes and Turner left Bran's and went to the Pineview Restaurant, where Grimes telephoned Eddleman from an outside pay telephone. Grimes apologized for waking Eddleman and relayed defendant's message to him. Grimes said, "[Defendant] wanted me to call you and tell you there's something going down and he wants to know if you want anything to do with it." Eddleman said, "Well, I went to the river last night and spent about two and a half, maybe three hours. Nothing didn't happen then. Hell, no, I don't want nothing to do with it." Eddleman then went back to sleep. Grimes and Turner returned to Bran's and departed in their separate vehicles.

Meanwhile, at approximately 2:00 a.m., the victim, Charles Edwin Jenkins, asked defendant for a ride home. The victim left LaDan's with defendant and Shaver. During the ride, defendant asked the victim whether he knew defendant's ex-wife, Lisa Bates, or her boyfriend, Jeff Goins. The victim responded, "Yeah, isn't Lisa the one that has big breasts" and "long blond hair." According to Shaver's testimony at trial, although defendant's ex-wife had long blond hair at that time, she did not have "big breasts."

During the ride, defendant stopped twice. The first time, he stopped for fifteen or twenty minutes along the side of the road in Iredell County so that defendant and Shaver could "use the bathroom." The victim did not exit the vehicle at this time. After driving for about fifteen or twenty minutes more, defendant stopped the vehicle a second time. This time, the victim and Shaver got out of defendant's vehicle to "use the bathroom." Shaver was standing on the passenger side of the vehicle, and the victim was standing at the rear of the vehicle. Defendant exited the vehicle, went around to the rear of the vehicle, and struck the victim at least three times on the back of the head with a shovel handle that had been in the vehicle. The victim fell to the ground. Defendant then gave the handle to Shaver, took some rope from the vehicle, and tied the victim's hands. The victim appeared to be unconscious at this point. However, the victim started moaning, and defendant told Shaver to hit the victim with the shovel handle. Shaver refused so defendant took the handle from Shaver and struck the victim on the back of the head again. The victim stopped moaning and again appeared to be unconscious. Defendant then bound the victim's arms and legs behind his back, or hog-tied him.

Defendant asked Shaver to help him place the victim into defendant's vehicle, and Shaver did so. Defendant then told Shaver that he believed that the victim was one of the persons who had been "messing around his house and stuff." Defendant said that he was "going to find out some answers." Defendant believed that the persons who had shot into his house were friends of his ex-wife and her boyfriend, and he thought the Defendant and Shaver got into the truck and headed towards defendant's campsite. Defendant was driving, Shaver was in the passenger seat, and the victim was hog-tied and lying on the floor of the rear of the vehicle. At some point, the victim propped his head up, and defendant asked him for directions. The victim responded that he could not see because his glasses had been lost. The victim then asked defendant what he had done and what was going on. Defendant told the victim to shut up. About fifteen or twenty minutes later, defendant noticed a sign indicating that they were entering Yadkin County. Defendant proceeded towards his campsite.

victim was setting him up and leading him into a trap.

On the way back to his campsite, defendant stopped at Eddleman's house. Defendant and Shaver exited the vehicle. Defendant knocked on the front door and entered Eddleman's house; Shaver waited outside in front of defendant's vehicle. Defendant remained inside the house for fifteen or twenty minutes. While inside Eddleman's house, defendant told Eddleman, "We got one of the MF's." Eddleman asked, "Who is he?" Defendant said, "His name is Chuck." Eddleman asked, "How do you know he's one of them?" Defendant said, "He's told us." Eddleman asked, "Where's he at?" Defendant responded, "He's hogtied in the jeep. You want to see him?" Eddleman said, "No, the best thing you can do is take him back where you got him, apologize to him and do anything he wants you to do, and hope that he don't prosecute you for kidnapping him." Defendant and Eddleman then stepped out onto the porch.

While defendant and Eddleman were outside on the porch talking, Billy Grimes drove up in his white Mitsubishi pickup truck and parked behind defendant's vehicle. Defendant walked up to Grimes' pickup truck and spoke with Grimes. According to Grimes, defendant said, "I've got one of the guys that's been messing with me. Do you want to watch or help?" Grimes declined, left, and went home.

Meanwhile, Eddleman had stepped off the porch to talk with Shaver. Eddleman said to Shaver, "Gary, you don't want nothing to do with this either." Eddleman also told Shaver, "Gary, you better talk to [defendant]." Eddleman then said to defendant, "Joe, you better listen." Defendant then walked over to Shaver and told him that he could get out of the situation if he wished. Shaver stated that he wanted out because he had sole custody of his daughter and did not want to jeopardize his custody. Defendant told Shaver that he would take Shaver back to his vehicle, which was parked at defendant's campsite. Defendant and Shaver then got back into defendant's vehicle and left. When they arrived at defendant's campsite, Shaver got into his vehicle and left. The victim was alive at this time. Shaver went home, set his alarm clock, and went to bed. It was approximately 4:00 a.m. at this time.

Defendant returned to Eddleman's house later that morning and again awoke Eddleman. It was still dark outside. Defendant returned Eddleman's gun, which he had borrowed at some time...

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13 cases
  • Bates v. Lee, 02-4.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • October 23, 2002 prison for the kidnapping conviction. The Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed the conviction and sentence, State v. Bates, 343 N.C. 564, 473 S.E.2d 269 (1996), and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari, Bates v. North Carolina, 519 U.S. 1131, 117 S.Ct. 992, 136 L.Ed.2d 8......
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    ...346 N.C. 443, 466, 488 S.E.2d 194, 207 (1997), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 118 S.Ct. 858, 139 L.Ed.2d 757 (1998); State v. Bates, 343 N.C. 564, 583, 473 S.E.2d 269, 279 (1996), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 117 S.Ct. 992, 136 L.Ed.2d 873 (1997). The circumstance that was actually submitted, a......
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    ...the North Carolina Constitution. See State v. Taylor, 362 N.C. 514, 527, 669 S.E.2d 239, 253-54 (2008) (race); State v. Bates, 343 N.C. 564, 595-96, 473 S.E.2d 269, 286-87 (1996) (gender), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1131, 117 S.Ct. 992, 136 L.Ed.2d 873 (1997); but cf. State v. Cofield, 320 N.C.......
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    ...dehumanizing to the victim and those that are less violent but involve the infliction of psychological torture. State v. Bates, 343 N.C. 564, 584-85, 473 S.E.2d 269, 280 (1996) (citations omitted), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1131,117 S.Ct. 992, 136 L.Ed.2d 873 (1997). An example of psychologica......
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