State v. Lynch

Decision Date28 July 1995
Docket NumberNo. 242A93,242A93
Citation340 N.C. 435,459 S.E.2d 679
PartiesSTATE of North Carolina v. David Clayton LYNCH.
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

Michael F. Easley, Atty. Gen., by David Roy Blackwell, Special Deputy Atty. Gen., for the State.

Richard B. Glazier, Fayetteville, for defendant-appellant.

PARKER, Justice.

Defendant was tried capitally on indictments charging him with the first-degree murders of India Anderson and Bobby Dean Anderson. The jury returned verdicts finding defendant guilty of both counts of first-degree murder based on premeditation and deliberation and lying in wait as to India Anderson and on premeditation and deliberation and felony murder as to Bobby Dean Anderson. Following a sentencing proceeding pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000, the jury recommended that defendant be sentenced to death for each murder. The jury also found defendant guilty of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer, six counts of assault by discharging a firearm into occupied property, and seven counts of injury to personal property. For these convictions the trial court sentenced defendant to an aggregate of seventy-eight and one-half years in prison. The trial court arrested judgment on defendant's conviction of two counts of injury to real property, and one count of assault by discharging a firearm into occupied property merged with the conviction for the murder of Bobby Dean Anderson. For the reasons discussed herein, we conclude the jury selection, guilt-innocence phase, and sentencing proceeding of defendant's trial were free from prejudicial error; and the death sentences are not disproportionate.

The evidence at trial tended to show the following. On 9 December 1991, from his home in Gaston County, defendant shot at his neighbors and others who came into his neighborhood for four hours. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on 9 December 1991, Tammy Anderson was taking her twelve-year-old daughter, India Anderson, and a friend's daughter, Heather Shumate, to school. Tammy and the two girls were in Tammy's car when they thought they heard the car backfire. Tammy and the girls got out of the car and heard another noise; at that point they realized someone was shooting at them. India was shot first; as Tammy ran towards India, Tammy was also shot. Tammy fell to the ground and blacked out briefly. When Tammy regained consciousness Heather was beside her, but Tammy could not see India. At this time a neighbor of the Andersons', Ronald Hunter, Sr., came running towards Tammy and Heather. Ronald Hunter, Sr. told Tammy and Heather to get down behind the car.

As Tammy, Heather, and Ronald Hunter, Sr. tried to get to safety, Ronald Hunter, Sr. was shot in the back. Ronald Hunter, Sr. was immediately shot two more times and fell to the ground. Every time Ronald Hunter, Sr. attempted to move, he was shot at again. Meanwhile, Heather and Tammy were able to get inside the Andersons' home, and Tammy called 911. While Tammy was on the phone, Tammy's husband, Bobby Anderson, walked over to and stood in front of the glass storm door. Tammy heard a shot and heard glass shatter. Bobby Anderson had been shot in the chest and was lying on the ground in front of the door. Tammy attempted to reach Bobby in order to help him but had to retreat when more shots were fired into the house. A SWAT team was eventually able to get into the Andersons' house and evacuate Tammy, Tammy's mother, and Heather. The team left Bobby Anderson, who was dead, in the house.

Around 8:00 a.m. on 9 December 1991, Ronald Hunter, Jr., a neighbor of the Andersons' and the son of Ronald Hunter, Sr., had just finished working the night shift at Freightliner and was getting ready to take a bath when he heard shooting outside. He looked out his window and saw Tammy, India, and Heather. He then saw his father running across the street to help Tammy, Heather, and India. Ronald Hunter, Jr. saw India get shot about four times as she staggered across the road. Ronald Hunter, Jr. and his mother, Tina, began yelling to India, telling her to lie down. India did lie down and she was shot several more times. Ronald Hunter, Jr. ran out to help India; but as he was dragging her back towards his house, India was shot again. Ronald Hunter, Jr. fell when India was shot, and he blacked out momentarily. When Ronald Hunter, Jr. regained consciousness, he heard shots hitting his car and heard his car alarm go off; then Ronald Hunter, Jr. was shot in the face. After he was struck in the face, Ronald Hunter, Jr. lay still pretending to be dead. Eventually Ronald Hunter, Jr. got up and made a run for the house. Ronald Hunter Jr. left India lying on the ground; she was dead.

L.P. Bert, a member of the Gaston County Police Department, responded to calls for emergency assistance as a result of the shooting. As Bert entered the area in his patrol vehicle, he saw puffs of dirt coming his way; and his car was struck by bullets. As Bert was backing out of the area and warning other police officers of the gunfire, Detective Rick Powers drove in front of defendant's home; and his car was shot. Gaston County Police Officer W.G. Gillis, who was also at the scene, was shot in the hand and arm while trying to get a clear view of defendant. Other officers at the scene were also shot at by defendant.

Gaston County Police Sergeant James Edwards served as a crisis negotiator for the department. Edwards arrived on the scene and contacted defendant by phone. Defendant indicated to Edwards that he suffered from mental problems. Defendant also told Edwards to remove the police from the church roof by his house. Defendant then shot at the church roof, missing the officers who were on the roof, but hitting the church. Defendant informed Edwards that he had been practicing his shooting and that he was mad at his neighbors because they played loud music and had parties. After two and one-half hours on the phone with Edwards, during which time defendant continued shooting at his neighbors and the police, defendant surrendered.

Gaston County Police Detective-Sergeant J.R. Phillips took custody of defendant and transferred him to the police department for questioning. Detective D.P. Finger was in the car with Phillips and defendant. On the way to the station, defendant was asked his name and date of birth. Defendant gave his name and said he was thirty-one. Once at the station, Phillips advised defendant of his constitutional rights. Defendant indicated that he understood his rights and that he was willing to waive his rights and give a statement. In his statement defendant stated that the Andersons had harassed him since he moved into the neighborhood, that they threw wild parties, and that they would spin their tires in front of his house. Defendant also stated that he had decided to kill himself and had driven out to Seattle, Washington, and then back to the coast of North Carolina. Defendant then decided that instead of killing himself, he would kill the people who were bothering him. Defendant owned a .223-caliber Ruger ranch rifle, a Winchester .300 magnum rifle, a Springfield M1A1 .308-caliber rifle, and a Springfield .45-caliber automatic pistol. Defendant had over 1,250 rounds of ammunition for the guns. On the night of 8 December 1991, defendant barricaded himself in his home. Defendant blocked his doors with a refrigerator, stove, and washing machine; he also put plywood over windows and mattresses against the walls in his home. Defendant then waited until 8:00 a.m. to begin shooting. After defendant read and signed his confession, he stated that he knew what he had done was wrong, but "they needed to die."

Investigator Kenneth D. Ervin examined the crime scene and discovered the house was in the condition described by defendant. Ervin also noted that the windows were nailed shut.

Some of defendant's neighbors testified that while they were in their homes on the morning of 9 December 1991, bullets entered through the walls and into their bathrooms and living rooms. Bullets also struck and damaged many cars in the neighborhood.

Defendant presented evidence that he never bothered anyone in the neighborhood, that the Andersons had loud parties, and that their children ran wild. He also presented evidence that India Anderson would throw rocks at defendant and dig up people's flowers. Many of defendant's friends testified that defendant was withdrawn and depressed and that he had problems with his neighbors. These same witnesses testified that in addition to being a good friend and a good worker, defendant was good with children and was active in church activities at different times. Defendant's friends also testified that they had recommended defendant for jobs, had set him up on dates with relatives, had let him play with their children, and had gone on trips with him.

Defendant presented expert testimony that he suffered from major depression, schizotypal personality disorder, and attention deficit disorder. Defendant would go through periods of time when he would lose contact with reality and do bizarre things such as driving across country without sleeping. Psychologist Faye Ellen Sultan testified that on 9 December 1991, defendant was unable to assess the nature and quality of his acts and did not know what he was doing was wrong. Dr. Joseph Horacek, a psychiatrist, testified that defendant suffered from auditory sensitivity, manic depression, schizotypal personality disorder, an autistic disorder, and Aspberger syndrome, an inherited neuro-developmental problem. Dr. Horacek testified that while defendant could plan the murders in a pure mechanical sense, defendant did not understand the nature and quality of his acts.

Dr. Clabe W. Lynn, the State's psychiatrist, testified that when he observed def...

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