State v. Bone, 281A99.
|17 August 2001
|North Carolina Supreme Court
|STATE of North Carolina v. Anthony Maurice BONE.
Staples Hughes, Appellate Defender, by Benjamin Dowling-Sendor, Assistant Appellate Defender, Durham, for defendant-appellant.
Defendant Anthony Maurice Bone was convicted for the first-degree murder of Ethel McCracken based upon theories of premeditation and deliberation and of felony murder. He also was convicted of two counts of first-degree burglary. On 5 February 1999, following a capital sentencing proceeding, the jury recommended a sentence of death for the murder, and the trial court entered judgment accordingly. The trial court also imposed two consecutive terms of imprisonment of 146 months to 185 months for the burglary convictions.
At trial, the State's evidence showed that on the morning of 24 August 1997, a family friend found eighty-eight-year-old Ms. McCracken dead in her apartment at 703 Rockett Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. She was wearing a nightgown and lying face down on her bed. Her feet had been bound with curtains, and curtain material had been stuffed into her mouth. Her hands, legs, and face were bloody. Two pocketbooks found on the floor of the living room had been emptied, and a third was discovered open on the dining room table. The screen on the kitchen window had been cut.
A police dog followed a scent from Ms. McCracken's apartment to the rear of a nearby apartment building where Wesley Crompton resided. That morning, Mr. Crompton had reported a burglary after he awoke to find the screen of his bathroom window cut and the contents of his wallet scattered on his bathroom floor. Police found a flashlight, a savings account card bearing Ms. McCracken's name, and a pair of knit gloves behind Mr. Crompton's apartment.
Agents of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation used a dye known as "Coomassie Blue" to stain Ms. McCracken's bedroom floor. This dye allows field forensic examiners to develop latent fingerprint and shoe print impressions left in blood on a hard or reflective surface. The dye raised shoe prints that were twelve and a half inches long and four inches wide. A Greensboro Police Department crime scene technician photographed the shoe prints and removed the tiles on which the prints had been impressed. Around 26 August 1997, Detective Robin Saul of the Greensboro Police Department showed a photograph of a shoe print from Ms. McCracken's house to the manager of a sporting goods store in Greensboro and asked him to identify the type of shoe that could have made the print. The manager recognized the print pattern as having been made by a Converse shoe. Detective Saul and the manager then compared the photograph to a Converse Model 961 "Chuck Taylor" athletic shoe in the store and determined that such a "Chuck Taylor" shoe made the print on Ms. McCracken's bedroom floor. The store manager allowed Detective Saul to borrow a "Chuck Taylor" shoe.
Police began surveillance operations in high-crime areas around the victims' neighborhood. In early October 1997, the Greensboro Police Department received an anonymous tip from a caller who identified defendant as the murderer. When Detective Saul pursued this lead, he found defendant wearing a pair of "Chuck Taylor" shoes. As detailed below, Detective Saul
SBI Special Agent Joyce Petzka testified that the shoes seized from defendant were consistent in sole design and size with the shoe prints found at the murder scene. The seized shoes had additional wear that was not present in the impressions taken at the scene, but Agent Petzka testified that such differences were consistent with defendant's shoes having been worn for approximately six weeks after the murder.
The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy of Ms. McCracken testified that the primary cause of death was the fracture of her cervical spine, which most likely resulted from someone pulling her neck back. There was also some element of strangulation. In addition, Ms. McCracken suffered broken ribs, and the pathologist testified that he found blood below her right ear, in the right ear itself, and in front of the left ear.
The State introduced into evidence a statement made by defendant when he was arrested. Defendant told Detective Saul that on the night of 23 August 1997, he cut the screen covering an open window of an apartment on Rockett Street. Once inside, he encountered the victim in her bedroom. Defendant ripped a curtain off the wall, rolled the victim onto her stomach, and tied her hands behind her back. To prevent her from getting up or making noise, defendant put his hands on the victim's neck, then gagged her. After searching the apartment for money, defendant noticed the victim was bleeding. He exited the apartment through the back door, taking a flashlight with him. Defendant walked to another apartment, which he entered by raising a window. Finding an old man sleeping in a chair in the living room and a wallet containing eight or nine dollars, defendant took the money to buy crack cocaine.
Defendant testified in his own behalf and denied breaking into any apartment and denied killing Ms. McCracken. Defendant also presented the testimony of psychologist Claudia Coleman. Her testimony will be discussed in detail below.
Defendant's only assignments of error in the guilt-innocence phase of his trial pertain to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress his confession. He contends that the confession was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; Article I, Section 20 of the North Carolina Constitution; and article 11 of chapter 15A of the North Carolina General Statutes.
Detective Saul's investigation indicated that the murderer was wearing Converse "Chuck Taylor" athletic shoes. In early October, an anonymous caller reported that defendant had committed the crime. At trial, Detective Saul gave the following account of this tip:
[T]he nature of the call is a homicide. The location Rockett Street.... [T]he caller reports that Tony Bone, black male, late 20s, climbed in an open window, punched an elderly female in the face so hard her ears bled, got only $5 out of the crime. He works for a moving company in Greensboro, and lives in Trinity, North Carolina. Suspect is married and recently released from prison.
Detective Saul was able to verify almost all of the information in the tip before he approached defendant. He learned that defendant was married and worked at Allied Moving in Greensboro. A criminal history check revealed defendant had been released from prison approximately a year before Ms. McCracken's murder. The cut screen found by investigators at the scene indicated the killer gained access to her apartment through a window. Detective Saul knew that while the primary cause of death was a broken neck, the victim was found with blood on her face. The only incorrect information provided by the anonymous caller was that defendant lived in Trinity, North Carolina. Defendant actually lived with his wife in Liberty, North Carolina; however, both Liberty and Trinity are small communities in northern Randolph County.
In response to the tip, on 8 October 1997, Detective Saul undertook surveillance of Allied Moving's place of business. After observing defendant entering the workplace,
Once inside an interview room at the Criminal Investigations Division of the Greensboro Police Department, Detective Saul advised defendant that he was investigating the murder of Ms. McCracken. He stated that he needed defendant's assistance and asked if he could examine defendant's shoes. Defendant refused, so Detective Saul determined to seek a search warrant. When he went to find a magistrate, Detective Saul left defendant in the interview room with the door closed but unlocked. Unknown to defendant, the uniformed officer who had driven him to the interview was "left there with [defendant] outside the room." Detective Saul returned after approximately one hour and twenty minutes to serve the search warrant on defendant, who then surrendered his shoes.
Detective Saul again left the now-unshod defendant in the interview room with the door closed and immediately took the shoes to the Greensboro Police Laboratory where he compared defendant's shoes to the photographs of the shoe impressions found at the murder scene. Detective Saul believed the shoes and shoe prints were similar. After nearly two hours, Detective Saul returned to the interview room and advised defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant verbally waived his rights but refused to sign a waiver form. During the ensuing interrogation, which lasted approximately an hour and a half, Detective Saul told defendant that he believed defendant killed the victim, adding that shoe prints are "just like" fingerprints and that defendant's sneakers "matched" the shoe prints. Defendant made no incriminating statements.
Detective Saul formally placed defendant under arrest and arranged for him to be taken before a magistrate so an arrest warrant could be issued. Subsequently, the uniformed officer who served the arrest warrant on defendant notified Detective Saul that defendant wanted to speak with him. Detective...
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