State v. Oglesby, 683A05-3

Docket Nº683A05-3
Citation2022 NCSC 101
Case DateAugust 19, 2022
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina

2022-NCSC-101

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.

JAAMALL DENARIS OGLESBY

No. 683A05-3

Supreme Court of North Carolina

August 19, 2022


Heard in the Supreme Court on 23 May 2022 in session in the Old Burke County Courthouse in the City of Morganton pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-10(a).

Appeal pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-30(2) from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, 278 N.C.App. 564, 2021-NCCOA-354, affirming an order entered on 4 September 2019 by Judge William A. Wood in Superior Court, Forsyth County.

Joshua H. Stein, Attorney General, by Robert C. Ennis, Assistant Attorney General, for the State-appellee.

Glenn Gerding, Appellate Defender, by Jillian C. Katz, Assistant Appellate Defender, for defendant-appellant.

EARLS, Justice

¶ 1 Defendant Jaamall Denaris Oglesby's motion for appropriate relief (MAR) seeking resentencing under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) explicitly requested that he be sentenced to one consolidated sentence of life with parole or to have his sentences for first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon all run concurrently. The trial court allowed the

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motion, and the matter was set for a resentencing hearing. At the resentencing hearing, Oglesby's counsel-despite the clear language of the original motion which listed each of the relevant file numbers-without explanation told the resentencing court that two of the sentences were not before the Court and only requested that two of the four sentences be run concurrently.

¶ 2 After hearing evidence from the defense regarding Oglesby's age and intellectual capacity, his diagnosed but untreated bipolar disorder at the time of the crime, his self-improvement activities in prison, and the fact that before confessing he was subjected to a twenty-six hour interrogation by police without a parent or guardian present, the resentencing court resentenced defendant on the first-degree murder conviction to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years but concluded in its discretion that "based upon the information presented at the resentencing hearing" it would run his first-degree kidnapping sentence consecutively with the murder sentence. The resentencing court "specifically [found] that consecutive sentences are warranted by the facts presented at the resentencing hearing." On appeal, a majority of the Court of Appeals rejected Oglesby's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) at the resentencing hearing, concluding that Oglesby's counsel did not render deficient performance and that, regardless, Oglesby could not have been prejudiced by counsel's failure to request that all his sentences be run concurrently. State v. Oglesby, 278 N.C.App. 564, 2021-NCCOA-354, ¶ 52.

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¶ 3 We agree with the majority below that, under the circumstances of this case, Oglesby cannot show prejudice because "the [resentencing] court heard thorough arguments from both parties regarding a range of mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the serious nature of Defendant's offenses . . . [and] chose not to consolidate the two sentences that were before it . . . instead exercising its discretion to keep these sentences consecutive." Id. ¶¶ 51-52. Oglesby has not advanced any basis to support his assertion that, notwithstanding the resentencing court's choice to run his first-degree murder sentence consecutively with his first-degree kidnapping sentence, there is a reasonable probability that the court would have chosen to run his first-degree murder sentence consecutively with either or both of his robbery sentences.

¶ 4 However, the majority below erred when it characterized Oglesby's argument that the resentencing court possessed the authority to run all of his sentences concurrently as "speculative and untested." Id. ¶ 49. Rather, under N.C. G.S. § 15A-1354(a), the resentencing court possessed the authority to run any and all of Oglesby's sentences imposed at the same time either concurrently or consecutively. Accordingly, we reject the reasoning of the decision below to the extent that it incorrectly suggested that the resentencing court lacked authority to run Oglesby's first-degree murder sentence concurrently with his robbery with a dangerous weapon sentences; otherwise, we affirm.

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I. Background

¶ 5 On 7 and 8 September 2002, Oglesby and a group of accomplices entered two separate convenience stores and robbed each store's cashier at gunpoint. Two days later, Oglesby and three other individuals abducted a man named Scott Jester from a restaurant in Winston-Salem. After pulling over on the side of I-40, Oglesby "made Jester get out of the car, Jester pled for his life and told [Oglesby] he had a young child, and [Oglesby] shot Jester three times in the back of the head." State v. Oglesby, 174 N.C.App. 658, 660 (2005), aff'd in part, vacated in part, 361 N.C. 550 (2007). Oglesby, who was sixteen years old at the time, was later arrested and confessed his involvement in both sets of crimes during an interrogation that lasted for twenty-six hours without a parent or guardian present. Id.

¶ 6 Oglesby pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon in relation to the convenience store incidents. After a trial, he was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon in connection with Jester's killing. On 28 May 2004, Oglesby was sentenced to the following active terms of imprisonment:

File Number

Offense

Sentence

02 CRS 60325 (51)

Robbery with a dangerous weapon

95 to 123 months

02 CRS 60325 (52)

Robbery with a dangerous weapon

95 to 123 months

02 CRS 60369 (52)

First-degree murder

Life without parole (mandatory)

02 CRS 60369 (51)

First-degree kidnapping

29 to 44 months

02 CRS 60369 (53)

Attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon

77 to 102 months.

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The trial court ordered all of Oglesby's sentences to be run consecutively. On direct appeal, the Court of Appeals ordered the trial court to arrest judgment on either Oglesby's conviction for attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon or his conviction for first-degree kidnapping to avoid a double jeopardy violation, State v. Oglesby, 174 N.C.App. 658, 665 (2005), and we did not disturb that order, see 361 N.C. 550, 556 (2007). The trial court ultimately arrested judgment on his attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon conviction.

¶ 7 On 4 April 2013, Oglesby filed an MAR seeking resentencing in light of the United State Supreme Court's decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), which held mandatory life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. After the United States Supreme Court held that Miller's substantive Eighth Amendment rule was retroactively applicable in state criminal post-conviction proceedings, see Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. 190, 212 (2016), Oglesby filed an amended MAR seeking "a resentencing hearing in which his unconstitutional life without parole sentence is converted to a life with parole sentence" and to be "sentenced to one consolidated sentence of life with parole or to have all his sentences in 02-CRS60369 [murder, kidnapping and attempted robbery] and 02-CRS-60325 [two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon] run concurrently because the original sentencing judge did not

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have the guidance of Miller and Montgomery." On 19 May 2017, Resident Superior Court Judge Richard S. Gottlieb entered an order allowing Oglesby's MAR. The order allowed the MAR without limitation, but in its initial findings referred only to Oglesby's sentences for first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and first-degree kidnapping.

¶ 8 Oglesby's resentencing hearing occurred on 13 April 2021, with Judge William A. Wood presiding. At the hearing, the court informed the parties that the original sentencing judge had already arrested judgment on Oglesby's 77-month minimum sentence for attempted armed robbery. In addition, the State did not contest Oglesby's assertion that he was entitled to be resentenced to life with parole for his murder conviction pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 15A-1340.19B(a)(1), which applies when "the sole basis for conviction of a count or each count of first[-]degree murder was the felony murder rule." The only disputed issue at Oglesby's resentencing hearing was whether his remaining sentences should be run concurrently or consecutively.

¶ 9 In support of his argument that the convictions should be run concurrently, Oglesby's attorney presented mitigating evidence including Oglesby's age at the time of his crimes, that he was the youngest of his co-defendants, that he suffered from untreated bipolar disorder and borderline intellectual impairment when he was arrested, and that he had developed and submitted a proposal for a program to assist at-risk youth while he was incarcerated. In support of its argument that the

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convictions should be run consecutively, the State noted the factual underpinnings of Oglesby's convictions and his lengthy disciplinary record while incarcerated, including serious disciplinary incidents near to the time of the resentencing hearing, which the State contended indicated that Oglesby had not been "reformed."

¶ 10 In the middle of the hearing, the court sought clarification from Oglesby's counsel regarding his outstanding sentences and the scope of the court's resentencing authority:

THE COURT: Just to make sure I understand.... First, there are two consecutive armed robbery sentences that the defendant has already served.
DEFENSE COUNSEL: It depends how DOC [the Department of Corrections] actually would calculate that. However, they are not at issue here because they are
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