State v. Dinan

Decision Date06 May 2014
Docket NumberNo. COA13–1022.,COA13–1022.
Citation757 S.E.2d 481
CourtNorth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesSTATE of North Carolina v. Corey DINAN.


Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 8 March 2013 by Judge Jack W. Jenkins in Onslow County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 17 February 2014.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General David Gordon, for the State.

James Goldsmith, Jr., Zirconia, for defendant.

ELMORE, Judge.

Corey Dinan (defendant) appeals his convictions of intentional child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury under N.C. Gen.Stat. § 14–318.4(a3) and of assault on a child under the age of twelve in violation pursuant to N.C. Gen.Stat. § 14–33(c)(3). We hold that defendant received a trial free from error in part. Defendant's final issue is dismissed without prejudice and allows defendant the opportunity to file appropriate motions with the trial court.

I. Factual Background

Abby 1, the victim in this case, is the biological daughter of defendant and Sarah F., defendant's now ex-wife. Abby was born 17 February 2010 and was approximately six-weeks-old at the time of the requisite child-abuse incident. At defendant's trial, Ms. F. testified that on 4 April 2010, defendant gave Abby her early-morning bottle. When Ms. F. woke, she went to the family room and saw Abby in her “princess swing” and defendant sitting “Indian style” on the floor. Abby was struggling to breathe. Ms. F. asked, “what's wrong with my baby?” Defendant responded, “I don't know. I don't know. She's been like that all morning.” Ms. F. demanded that they take Abby to Onslow Memorial Hospital (Onslow). Abby was kept over-night at Onslow before being transferred to Pitt Memorial Hospital (now Vidant) for additional treatment.

Dr. Coral Steffey (Dr. Steffey), pediatrician and expert in the field of pediatrics and child abuse, testified that on 5 April 2010 she was called to Vidant to consult on Abby's condition. She testified that Abby was transferred from Onslow to Vidant for additional treatment after physicians discovered that Abby's oxygen saturations were low, that she was having difficulty breathing, that she was dehydrated, and that x-rays showed multiple rib fractures and a hemothorax. In fact, Abby had 24 identifiable rib fractures, both new and healing. X-rays taken of Abby's ribs 17 days prior did not reveal any rib fractures. Accordingly, Dr. Steffey opined that between 18 March and 4 April 2010, someone injured Abby on at least two occasions to the point that she sustained multiple rib fractures. Dr. Steffey read the opinion from her medical report into the record, as follows: “There is no medical explanation for Abby's constellation of injuries, which include healing and acute rib fractures with hemothorax, intra-cranial hemorrhage, subconjunctival hemorrhages and bruising to her ankle. No history of trauma has been provided to explain Abby's injuries. The constellation of inexplicable injuries is consistent with a diagnosis of child physical abuse with inflicted injuries, on more than one occasion.”

Elizabeth Pogroszewski, social worker for Onslow County Department of Social Services, testified that on 4 April 2010 she asked defendant his opinion as to what contributed to Abby's injuries. He responded, [I] must have held her too tight.” Additionally, four officers with the Jacksonville Police Department testified at trial. Officer Timothy Sawyer testified that defendant made a written statement in which he admitted to holding Abby too tight. Detective Anthony Ramirez testified that defendant demonstrated for him how he picked up Abby and held her with his elbows locked. Detective Trudy Allen testified that when she asked defendant how Abby was injured, he made “a shaking motion, just as if he would shake up the contents of a canister.” At that point, she arrested defendant for felony child abuse. Officer Jason Lagana testified that defendant made the following spontaneous statement to him: “I guess you get charged for holding your kid too tight.”

At trial, defendant sought to exclude the testimony of Brent Cross, defendant's friend and fellow Marine, and Megan Dinan, defendant's former ex-wife. After voir dire, the trial court denied defendant's motions in limine, finding that the proffered testimony was relevant as it went to the issue of “knowledge, absence of mistake and intent.” Further, the trial court found that the probative value of the 404(b) testimony was not substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect.

Brent Cross testified that in 2006 he was helping defendant with a home-improvement project when defendant's then wife, Megan Dinan, left the couple's napping infant son in defendant's care. When the baby woke crying, Mr. Cross testified that defendant became “agitated.” Defendant went to the baby's room and, through the monitor, told Mr. Cross, “I got the baby now. You can go ahead and shut the baby monitor off. I got it.” Mr. Cross had an “instinct” to keep the monitor on. When the baby was picked up, Mr. Cross testified that he heard the baby's cry become “hysterical” and he heard defendant's tone change from “upset” to “just anger.”

Megan Dinan testified that she and defendant had two biological sons together, Ian and Sam. However, after divorcing, defendant relinquished his parental rights. She testified that when Ian was approximately eight-weeks old, he woke one morning with “one tiny little bruise” on his chest. Defendant was responsible for feeding Ian during the night. The following morning, Ian woke “covered in bruises, head to toe. He was so bruised that his earlobes were bruised.” Ian was hospitalized and diagnosed as having a virus, which doctors thought could account for his severe bruising. After Ian was released from the hospital, Ms. Dinan noted subsequent bruising in the shape of finger prints on Ian. Ms. Dinan testified that when she confronted defendant, he responded, “it is my handprint, [ ] I was holding him last night and I think I held him too tight.”

Defendant testified on his own behalf at trial. He alleged that he never “mistreated” Abby on 4 April 2010 or any time prior. He admitted to accidentally treating her like a one-year old instead of a six-week old. After the defense rested, the jury found defendant guilty of intentional child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and of assault on a child under the age of twelve. The trial court sentenced defendant on 8 March 2013 to a term of 73 months to 97 months imprisonment, plus 60 days.

II. Analysis
A. Rule Violation

Initially, we direct defense counsel's attention to Rule 28 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure. Rule 28(b)(4)requires counsel to include “a statement of the grounds for appellate review. Such statement shall include citation of the statute or statutes permitting appellate review.” N.C.R.App. P. 28(b)(4). In his brief, defense counsel provides:

This Court is called upon to determine whether [defendant] was deprived of his fundamental right to a fair trial where evidence of uncharged prior bad acts were introduced to establish criminal propensity, and where the trial court failed to make a determination that the probative value outweighed any prejudice.... Further, this Court is called upon to determine whether [defendant] received ineffective assistance of counsel[.]

Defense counsel has violated Rule 28(b)(4). The above “statement” fails to reference any statute which would allow for appellate review-defense counsel has merely reiterated the issues he raises on appeal. Here, defense counsel is licensed in Florida. Nevertheless, we urge defense counsel and all counsel to be mindful of our Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Defendant first argues that the trial court erred in admitting testimony relating to his “uncharged prior bad acts” under Rule 404(b). We are unable to address the merits of this issue because defendant offers no clear or reasoned argument in support of his position as required by Rule 28(b)(6). SeeN.C.R.App. P. 28(b)(6). Specifically, in defendant's first issue he fails to direct us to the testimony that he argues it was error for the trial court to admit. We assume that defendant challenges the testimony of Mr. Cross and Ms. Dinan pursuant to Rules 404(b) and 403, as these witnesses are referenced in this issue. Further, defendant's argument is presented in a nonsensical manner. At the very least, defendant is required to direct us to the challenged testimony—it is not this Court's duty to craft defendant's argument for him. Accordingly, defendant's first argument is abandoned on appeal pursuant to Rule 28(b)(6).

B. Admission of 404(b) Evidence

Alternatively, based on defendant's recitation of the facts and a review of the transcript, we assume arguendo that in his first issue, defendant is objecting to the admission of the unfavorable character evidence offered by Mr. Cross and Ms. Dinan. Nevertheless, we remain unable to address the merits as defendant has failed to preserve this issue for our review.

[T]o preserve for appellate review a trial court's decision to admit testimony, objections to [that] testimony must be contemporaneous with the time such testimony is offered into evidence and not made only during a hearing out of the jury's presence prior to the actual introduction of the testimony.” State v. Ray, 364 N.C. 272, 277, 697 S.E.2d 319, 322 (2010) (citations and quotations marks omitted). At trial, defendant did not object to the admission of what we believe constitutes the challenged testimony of Mr. Cross and Ms. Dinan. Therefore, he did not preserve the issue of the admissibility of this testimony for our review. Id.

Failure to properly preserve an argument restricts this Court's review on appeal to plain error. However, Rule 10(a)(4) states that such review is only available “when the judicial action questioned is specifically and distinctly contended to amount to plain error.” N.C.R.App. P. 10(a)(4). In his brief, defendant does not...

To continue reading

Request your trial
10 cases
  • State v. Baskins
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • August 7, 2018 his reply brief might have merit, Defendant cannot use a reply brief to introduce new arguments on appeal. State v. Dinan , 233 N.C. App. 694, 698, 757 S.E.2d 481, 485, disc. review denied , 367 N.C. 522, 762 S.E.2d 203 (2014) (citation omitted) ("[A] reply brief is not an avenue to corr......
  • Holt v. N.C. Dep't of Transp.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • February 2, 2016
    ...Because DOT did not make a cause-in-fact, or "actual cause" argument on appeal, it is not properly before us. Id.; State v. Dinan, –––N.C.App. ––––, ––––, 757 S.E.2d 481, 485, disc. review denied, 367 N.C. 522, 762 S.E.2d 203 (2014). It is not the job of this Court to make DOT's argument fo......
  • State v. Hargett
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • May 19, 2015
    ...that he is not entitled to plain error review because he did not assert plain error in his opening brief. See State v. Dinan, ––– N.C.App. ––––, 757 S.E.2d 481, disc. review denied, 367 N.C. 522, 762 S.E.2d 203 (2014) (holding that assertion of plain error for the first time in a reply brie......
  • State v. Triplett
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 2018
    ...not an avenue to correct the deficiencies contained in the original brief. See N.C. R. App. P. 28(b)(6) [.]" State v. Dinan , 233 N.C. App. 694, 698–99, 757 S.E.2d 481, 485 (2014) (citation omitted). Second, Defendant does not include citation to any authority that stands for this principle......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT