State v. Byers, 051920 NCCA, COA18-863

Docket Nº:COA18-863
Opinion Judge:MCGEE, CHIEF JUDGE
Party Name:STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. AARON RASHAUN BYERS, Defendant.
Attorney:Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Saunders, for the State. Glover & Petersen, P.A., by James R. Glover, for Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:Judges DIETZ and ZACHARY concur.
Case Date:May 19, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

v.

AARON RASHAUN BYERS, Defendant.

No. COA18-863

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An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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 3 December 2019.

Appeal by Defendant from amended judgment entered 20 September 2017 by Judge Robert T. Sumner in Superior Court, Cleveland County Nos. 14 CRS 52168, 14 CRS 52171

Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Saunders, for the State.

Glover & Petersen, P.A., by James R. Glover, for Defendant-Appellant.

MCGEE, CHIEF JUDGE

Aaron Rashuan Byers ("Defendant") challenges jury selection in his case following the entry of judgment upon his convictions for first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. We find no prejudicial error.

Defendant was indicted on 12 May 2014 on charges of first-degree murder, two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of a firearm by a felon. The case was tried in Superior Court, Cleveland County beginning on 12 September 2017. The State presented evidence at trial tending to show that Defendant was a passenger in the front seat of a two-door vehicle, and the driver was shot during Defendant's attempted robbery of two passengers seated in the rear seat of the vehicle. Based on the evidence presented, the trial court instructed the jury on two counts of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon, and first-degree murder in the perpetration of a felony. The jury found Defendant guilty of each offense.

The trial court entered a judgment on 19 September 2017, consolidating the first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon offenses and sentenced Defendant to a term of life imprisonment without parole. The trial court arrested judgment on the attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon convictions. An amended judgment awarding Defendant credit for time spent in confinement prior to the entry of judgment was entered on 20 September 2017. Defendant appeals.

The sole issue raised by Defendant on appeal is whether the trial court erred during jury selection by allowing the State's motion to reopen voir dire of a juror (the "Juror") already accepted by the State and the defense, that ultimately resulted in the State's use of a peremptory challenge to excuse the Juror.

"A trial judge has broad discretion to regulate jury voir dire. In order for a defendant to show reversible error in the trial court's regulation of jury selection, a defendant must show that the court abused its discretion and that he was prejudiced thereby." State v. Lee, 335 N.C. 244, 268, 439 S.E.2d 547, 559 (1994) (citations omitted).

The jury selection process is governed by N.C. G.S. § 15A-1214. Pertinent to this appeal, the statute provides: (d) The prosecutor must conduct his examination of the first 12 jurors seated and make his challenges for cause and exercise his peremptory challenges. If the judge allows a challenge for cause, or if a peremptory challenge is exercised, the clerk must immediately call a replacement into the box. When the prosecutor is satisfied with the 12 in the box, they must then be tendered to the defendant. Until the prosecutor indicates his satisfaction, he may make a challenge for cause or exercise a peremptory challenge to strike any juror, whether an original or replacement juror.

(e) Each defendant must then conduct his examination of the jurors tendered him, making his challenges for cause and his peremptory challenges. If a juror is excused, no replacement may be called until all defendants have indicated satisfaction with those remaining, at which time the clerk must call replacements for the jurors excused. . . .

(f) Upon the calling of replacement jurors, the prosecutor must examine the replacement jurors and indicate satisfaction with a completed panel of 12 before the replacement jurors are tendered to a defendant. Only replacement jurors may be examined and challenged. This procedure is repeated until all parties have accepted 12 jurors.

(g) If at any time after a juror has been accepted by a party, and before the jury is impaneled, it is discovered that the juror has made an incorrect statement during voir dire or that some other good reason exists:

(1) The judge may examine, or permit counsel to examine, the juror to determine whether there is a basis for challenge for cause.

(2) If...

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