State v. Cox

Decision Date05 March 1985
Docket NumberNo. 842SC649,842SC649
Citation326 S.E.2d 100,73 N.C.App. 432
CourtNorth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesSTATE of North Carolina v. Saunders H. COX.

Atty. Gen. Rufus L. Edmisten by Asst. Atty. Gen. William B. Ray, Raleigh, for the State.

Hulse & Hulse by Herbert B. Hulse, Goldsboro, for defendant-appellant.

HEDRICK, Chief Judge.

Defendant first assigns error to admission of testimony by defendant's wife "as to confidential communication between him and his wife." N.C.Gen.Stat. Sec. 8-57 (Cum.Supp.1983) governs the competence and compellability of spouses as witnesses in criminal actions. G.S. 8-57 was rewritten by our Legislature in 1983, and the revised version is applicable in all criminal prosecutions instituted after 1 October 1983. Defendant was indicted for the offenses with which he is charged on 3 October 1983, and the amended version of G.S. 8-57 thus controls our decision as to this assignment of error. The statute in pertinent part provides:

(b) The spouse of the defendant shall be competent but not compellable to testify for the State against the defendant, except that the spouse of the defendant shall be both competent and compellable [to testify in certain enumerated circumstances.]

The record in the instant case discloses that defendant's wife rented the house allegedly burglarized by defendant, and that the State relied on her as a prosecuting witness. The district attorney represented to the court, and the court found as a fact that Mrs. Cox had "submitted herself as a witness and [was in court] on a voluntary basis." Thus the record shows that Mrs. Cox was not compelled to testify, and the statute declares that she was competent to testify. The assignment of error is without merit.

Defendant assigns error to the court's denial of his motion to dismiss the charge of first degree burglary and to the court's submission of that offense to the jury, alleging insufficiency of the evidence. The evidence introduced at trial, considered in the light most favorable to the State, tends to show the following: Defendant, his wife, and their daughter lived together in a rented house at 1204 W. Fifth Street in Washington, North Carolina, until 5 July 1982, at which time defendant moved out of the house. Mrs. Cox intended the separation to be permanent. Defendant continued to visit his daughter after the separation and contributed to the support of his wife and child. On 22 July 1983 at approximately midnight defendant called Mrs. Cox and asked if he could come to the house, a request Mrs. Cox refused. Defendant then asked if he could speak to his daughter, and was told that the child was spending the night with defendant's sister. An argument ensued, and Mrs. Cox hung up. With Mrs. Cox at this time was Joel Withers. A few minutes later Mrs. Cox heard a door slam, looked out a window, and saw defendant get out of a truck. Defendant began to knock on the door "real hard," and to call out Mrs. Cox's name. Mrs. Cox told defendant she would not open the door and let him in, told Mr. Withers to go to her daughter's room, and then went to her bedroom to call the police. While Mrs. Cox was on the phone defendant slashed the tires on Mr. Withers' truck, which was parked in Mrs. Cox's yard. Defendant then kicked down the door of the residence and walked down the hall to his daughter's room. Mrs. Cox testified that she saw defendant as he walked down the hall, and that defendant was holding a knife and a can of beer. Defendant stabbed Mr. Withers in the leg, severing an artery and some nerves. Mrs. Cox, observing defendant's action, ran to get a gun and shot defendant.

Defendant argues that "there is no evidence to show that at the time he kicked in the door he had an intention to commit an assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury as alleged in the bill of indictment." We disagree. Mr. Withers testified that Mrs. Cox told defendant when he first came to the door that "her daughter was not here and that only her and I were there." The State's evidence tended to show that defendant then slashed Mr. Withers' tires. Mrs. Cox testified that she saw defendant with a knife shortly after he gained entry, prior to the moment he confronted Mr. Withers in the child's bedroom. This evidence is sufficient to raise an inference that defendant knew of Mr. Withers' presence prior to kicking down the door, and that at the time he gained entry into the house, he intended to commit an assault upon Mr. Withers with a knife.

Defendant contends there is another reason why his motion to dismiss the charge of first degree burglary should have been granted; he argues "the evidence clearly shows that the defendant was entitled to enter his marital domicile even though he had been separated from his wife." We are aware of no case, and defendant cites none, that resolves the issue raised by defendant: Does the marital relationship, in and of itself, constitute a complete defense to the offense of burglary in the first degree? For the reasons outlined below, we hold that it does not.

The offense of burglary is defined in G.S....

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11 cases
  • White v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 24, 1990
    ...assets rule did not preclude a burglary conviction of husband of apartment tenanted by legally separated wife); State v. Cox, 73 N.C.App. 432, 326 S.E.2d 100, 102-03, cert. denied, 313 N.C. 605, 330 S.E.2d 612 (1985) (evidence which established that husband had been separated from his wife ......
  • State v. Blyther
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • June 20, 2000
    ...onto the premises which are under the sole possession of his wife with the intent to commit an offense. Id. Similarly, in State v. Cox, 73 N.C.App. 432, 326 S.E.2d 100, disc. review denied, 313 N.C. 605, 330 S.E.2d 612 (1985), the defendant, his wife and their daughter had lived together in......
  • Folsom v. State, CR-93-1835
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • July 28, 1995
    ...assets rule did not preclude a burglary conviction of husband of apartment tenant by legally separated wife); State v. Cox, 73 N.C.App. 432, 326 S.E.2d 100, 102-03, cert. denied, 313 N.C. 605, 330 S.E.2d 612 (1985) (evidence which established that husband had been separated from his wife wi......
  • State v. Singletary
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • July 31, 1996
    ...men, where they repose and sleep, from meditated harm." State v. Surles, 230 N.C. 272, 275, 52 S.E.2d 880, 882 (1949). In State v. Cox, 73 N.C.App. 432, 326 S.E.2d 100, disc. rev. denied, 313 N.C. 605, 330 S.E.2d 612 (1985), the Court of Appeals held that the marital relationship, in and of......
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