State v. Kyle

Decision Date04 June 1993
Docket NumberNo. 146A92,146A92
Citation333 N.C. 687,430 S.E.2d 412
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE of North Carolina v. Edwin Lee KYLE.

Appeal as of right pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-27(a) from a judgment imposing a life sentence upon defendant's conviction of first-degree murder entered by Freeman, J., at the 22 July 1991 Criminal Session of Superior Court, Ashe County. Defendant's motion to bypass the Court of Appeals, pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-31, as to his burglary and kidnapping convictions was allowed by this Court on 24 August 1992. Heard in the Supreme Court 16 February 1993.

Michael F. Easley, Atty. Gen. by Charles M. Hensey, Sp. Deputy Atty. Gen., Raleigh, for the State.

Malcolm Ray Hunter, Jr., Appellate Defender by M. Gordon Widenhouse, Asst. Appellate Defender, Raleigh, for defendant-appellant.

MEYER, Justice.

On 18 March 1991, defendant was indicted by an Ashe County grand jury for the first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping of Valerie Ann Goldman Kyle, the first-degree kidnapping of Saul Garcia, and first-degree burglary. Defendant was tried capitally in Superior Court, Ashe County, in July 1991, and the jury returned verdicts of guilty on all charges. Following a sentencing proceeding conducted pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000, the jury recommended a sentence of life imprisonment for the first-degree murder conviction. In accordance with the jury's recommendation, the trial court sentenced defendant to life imprisonment for the murder, as well as to a consecutive fifty-year sentence for the burglary, and two consecutive forty-year sentences for the kidnapping convictions.

On appeal, defendant brings forward numerous assignments of error. After a thorough review of the transcript of the proceedings, record on appeal, briefs, and oral arguments, we conclude that defendant received a fair trial, free of prejudicial error in the guilt phase. However, for reversible error in the trial court's sentencing proceeding on the burglary and kidnapping convictions, we remand for a new sentencing hearing on the first-degree burglary conviction and on the two first-degree kidnapping convictions.

The evidence presented at trial tended to show the following facts and circumstances. Defendant, Edwin Lee Kyle, married the victim, Valerie Kyle, in June of 1990. Defendant lived with the victim and her son, Saul Garcia, in a mobile home until October of 1990, when defendant struck the victim in the back of the head with a pole and threatened to cut her throat with a butcher knife. On 12 October 1990, defendant was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on the victim. The victim and her son, Saul, moved from the mobile home into an apartment located on Greensboro Manufacturing Road near the intersection of U.S. Highway 221 and N.C. Highway 16.

Early in the morning of 14 November 1990, defendant received a ride from some neighbors to a location on Highway 16 less than a mile from the victim's apartment. Between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., Saul Garcia was awakened by a loud knocking on the front door and defendant's voice calling his mother's name. The victim told defendant to go away. Defendant then broke the glass part of the front door with his hand and entered the apartment with a gun. The victim tried to stop defendant from entering by pushing the door closed, but defendant pushed her aside. The victim and Saul backed away from defendant as he waved the pistol around. The victim asked defendant for a cigarette, and defendant allowed the victim to get a cigarette from a pack lying near a television. Saul began talking to the victim about the shape of some of the broken glass on the floor, and the victim, who was standing against the side wall in the living room, laughed. Defendant then shot the victim in the chest. Defendant then asked Saul, "You want to be shot, too?" Saul went over to the victim, who had fallen down on the floor.

Defendant dragged the victim out of the apartment and to her red automobile that was parked outside. Defendant placed the victim in the front seat of the vehicle and told Saul to get some water to clear off the windshield. Defendant put the gun in his pocket, ordered Saul to get in the back seat of the car, and drove the three of them toward Virginia on U.S. Highway 221. The victim was still alive and called defendant's name as they drove. Defendant stopped the car 2.6 miles north of the victim's apartment, near the intersection of Shatley Springs Road and U.S. Highway 221, at a sign that said: "New River General Store three miles." This area is located within Ashe County. Defendant said to the victim, "I'll ... make you shut up." Defendant shot the victim in the left side of her head behind the ear. Saul knew that the victim was dead because she made no other sounds after that and her eyes rolled to the back of her head. Defendant continued to drive the car toward Virginia and ordered Saul to stop trying to wave at passing cars for help.

Defendant drove the car into Virginia and stopped on a dirt road near Cracker's Neck, at an old mill near a steel bridge over the New River. Defendant dragged the victim's body out of the car into a ditch, placed some leaves over the victim's body, and made Saul do the same. Defendant ordered Saul to get back in the car, and defendant continued driving. Defendant said to Saul, "I'm going to have to shoot you." Defendant stopped the car and ordered Saul to get out. Saul got out of the car and ran. Defendant fired at least one shot at Saul and then returned to the car and drove away. A man driving a truck through the area observed Saul waving his arms near the road and stopped to help him.

Defendant was arrested in Virginia at 11:10 a.m. when he came out of his aunt's home, which was located two to three miles from where the victim's body was found. At the time of his arrest, defendant smelled of alcohol and appeared intoxicated to a degree. Defendant's aunt gave the Virginia police officers permission to search her home, where they discovered a .22-caliber revolver. The bullets removed from the victim's body were fired from this revolver.

Additional facts will be discussed as necessary for the proper disposition of the issues raised by defendant.

Defendant first argues that the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the kidnapping charge with regard to victim Valerie Kyle because the evidence was insufficient to support any theory of kidnapping alleged in the indictment. The indictment charged that defendant confined, restrained, and removed Valerie Kyle "for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the felonies of murder and burglary, and facilitating the flight of Edwin Lee Kyle following his participation in the commission of the felonies of burglary and murder." The trial court instructed the jury in pertinent part as follows:

So I charge that if you find from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that on or about the alleged date the Defendant removed Valerie Kyle from one place to another and that she did not consent to this removal, and that it was done for the purpose of facilitating the Defendant's commission of a murder or a burglary, and that this removal was a separate, complete act, independent of and apart from the murder or the burglary, and that the person removed was not released by the Defendant in a safe place, it would be your duty to return a verdict of guilty of first degree kidnapping.

Defendant argues that the evidence presented at defendant's trial failed to establish that he restrained or removed the victim either for the purpose of burglarizing her home or for the purpose of murdering her. We disagree.

N.C.G.S. § 14-39 provides in pertinent part:

(a) Any person who shall unlawfully confine, restrain, or remove from one place to another, any other person 16 years of age or over without the consent of such person, or any other person under the age of 16 years without the consent of a parent or legal custodian of such person, shall be guilty of kidnapping if such confinement, restraint or removal is for the purpose of:

....

(2) Facilitating the commission of any felony or facilitating flight of any person following the commission of a felony[.]

N.C.G.S. § 14-39 (Supp.1992). The word facilitate has been defined as "to make easier." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary 444 (1988). In considering the sufficiency of the evidence to survive a motion to dismiss, "the trial court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, and the State is entitled to every reasonable intendment and inference to be drawn therefrom." State v. Covington, 315 N.C. 352, 361, 338 S.E.2d 310, 316 (1986). We conclude that when so considered, the evidence supports a reasonable inference that defendant confined or restrained the victim for the purpose of facilitating the commission of burglary and murder.

First-degree burglary is the unlawful breaking and entering into an occupied dwelling at night with the intent to commit a felony therein. State v. Parks, 324 N.C. 94, 97, 376 S.E.2d 4, 7 (1989). In the instant case, the evidence shows that defendant broke into and entered the occupied dwelling house of Valerie Kyle in the nighttime, without her consent, with the formed intent to commit the felony of murder. Defendant arrived at the apartment with a loaded pistol, and when he was denied entry, he forced his way inside, with the pistol drawn. Defendant argues that the burglary was complete upon entry into the house and that the kidnapping could not facilitate this crime. We disagree. In State v. Hall, 305 N.C. 77, 286 S.E.2d 552 (1982),overruled on other grounds by State v. Diaz, 317 N.C. 545, 346 S.E.2d 488 (1986), the defendant argued that the evidence failed to support his kidnapping conviction because the State did not prove the theory charged in the indictment which was asportation of the victim to facilitate the commission of the felony of armed robbery. The defendant in Hall...

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  • State v. Skipper
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • July 29, 1994
    ...are relevant even when such factors as the identity of the victim or the cause of death are not disputed. See State v. Kyle, 333 N.C. 687, 701, 430 S.E.2d 412, 420 (1993); State v. Barnes, 333 N.C. at 678, 430 S.E.2d at 229; State v. Bearthes, 329 N.C. 149, 161, 405 S.E.2d 170, 177 (1991). ......
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