State v. Oldroyd, 051920 NCCA, COA19-595

Docket Nº:COA19-595
Opinion Judge:MURPHY, JUDGE
Party Name:STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. MARC PETERSON OLDROYD, Defendant.
Attorney:Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Sherri H. Lawrence, for the State. Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender Emily Holmes Davis, for defendant-appellant.
Judge Panel:Judge STROUD concurs. Judge BRYANT dissents with a separate opinion. BRYANT, Judge, dissenting.
Case Date:May 19, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

v.

MARC PETERSON OLDROYD, Defendant.

No. COA19-595

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 19, 2020

Heard in the Court of Appeals 3 March 2020.

Appeal by Defendant from order entered 9 March 2017 by Judge Michael D. Duncan in Yadkin County No. 13 CRS 000060-62 Superior Court.

Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Sherri H. Lawrence, for the State.

Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender Emily Holmes Davis, for defendant-appellant.

MURPHY, JUDGE

Indictments must state all essential and necessary elements of an offense in order to bestow the trial court with jurisdiction. Armed robbery is a statutory enhancement of the common law offense of robbery, and under the common law robbery is a crime against the person. Indictments for crimes against the person must specifically state the name of the victim. As a result, an indictment for attempted armed robbery must name the victim, and failure to do so renders the indictment fatally defective. Where an indictment for attempted armed robbery is fatally defective for failing to name any victim, we must vacate the judgment based upon that indictment. Further, where part of a plea agreement is repudiated, the entirety of the plea must be vacated.

Here, pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, attempted armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery for which he received a consolidated sentenced of 120 to 153 months. Defendant later claimed, in his Motion for Appropriate Relief, that the indictment for attempted armed robbery was fatally defective in failing to name any victim. The trial court entered an order denying this claim, which we now reverse. Defendant's indictment for attempted armed robbery must have named a victim and was fatally defective in not doing so. We vacate the judgment for attempted armed robbery based on this indictment. Additionally, because the judgment entered on attempted armed robbery was pursuant to a plea agreement with the State, we vacate the entirety of the underlying plea agreement and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

On 5 October 1996, Defendant, Marc Peterson Oldroyd, along with Brian Whitaker ("Whitaker") and Scott Sica ("Sica"), planned to rob a Huddle House in Jonesville, using two weapons, a .9mm Beretta and a .357 Magnum. Whitaker and Sica used a stolen truck for the robbery while Defendant was waiting in a separate get-away vehicle owned by Whitaker. Whitaker and Sica drove the stolen truck to the back entrance of the Huddle House and Sica, armed with a .9mm Beretta, attempted to enter via the back entrance. This entrance was locked so Whitaker and Sica left. At the time of Sica's attempted entrance, Defendant was in an adjacent parking lot where he could see Whitaker and Sica. Shortly after leaving, a police officer stopped Whitaker and Sica's vehicle on the highway, asked them to step out of the car, and was given permission to search the vehicle.

While Whitaker and Sica were pulled over, Defendant drove by them and circled back around. When it became clear the police officer was going to find the materials they planned to use for the robbery, Sica shot and killed the police officer. Defendant again drove by the location and saw there were now four police cars where Whitaker and Sica had been pulled over and Whitaker and Sica's vehicle was no longer there. Defendant then drove to a relative's apartment where Whitaker and Sica later joined him.

Sixteen years later, Defendant was indicted for first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The indictment for attempted armed robbery with a dangerous weapon stated: The jurors for the State upon their oath present that on or about [5 October 1996] and in [Yadkin County] [Defendant] unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did attempt to steal, take and carry away another's personal property, United States currency, from the person and presence of employees of the Huddle House located at 1538 NC Highway 67, Jonesville, North Carolina. [Defendant] committed this act by having in possession and with the use and threatened use of a firearm, a 9mm handgun, whereby the life [sic] of the Huddle House employees was [sic] threatened and endangered.

On 2 June 2014, pursuant to a plea agreement with the State, Defendant pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, attempted armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Pursuant to the plea agreement, all three convictions were consolidated and Defendant was sentenced to an active term of 120 to 153 months.

On 9 June 2015, Defendant filed a motion for appropriate relief ("MAR") in which he argued, inter alia, that the indictment for attempted armed robbery with a dangerous weapon was "fatally flawed in that it does not name a victim." Defendant argued this flaw meant "the State failed to establish subject matter jurisdiction over all counts. If the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action, the judgment in the action is void." On 9 March 2017, the trial court found "as a matter of law there [were] no fatal defects in the indictments" and denied the MAR. On 26 November 2018, Defendant filed a petition for writ of certiorari requesting our review of the trial court's denial of his MAR. The State did not file a response. A panel of this Court issued a writ of certiorari for the limited "purpose of reviewing the conclusion [in the order denying Defendant's MAR] that 'there are no fatal defects in [Defendant's] indictments' in the order of [the trial court] entered 9 March 2017."

ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

"When a trial court's findings on a motion for appropriate relief are reviewed, these findings [of fact] are binding if they are supported by competent evidence and may be disturbed only upon a showing of manifest abuse of discretion. However, the trial court's conclusions [of law] are fully reviewable on appeal." State v. Lutz, 177 N.C.App. 140, 142, 628 S.E.2d 34, 35 (2006) (quoting State v. Wilkins, 131 N.C.App. 220, 223, 506 S.E.2d 274, 276 (1998)). We apply the law governing indictments to Defendant's indictment for attempted armed robbery "anew and freely substitute[] [our] own judgment for that of the lower tribunal." State v. Williams, 362 N.C. 628, 632-33, 669 S.E.2d 290, 294 (2008) (internal marks omitted).

Defendant argues the indictment for attempted armed robbery was defective and the trial court had no jurisdiction to enter the plea for this offense. "[W]here an indictment is alleged to be invalid on its face, thereby depriving the trial court of its jurisdiction, a challenge to that indictment may be made at any time, even if it was not contested in the trial court." State v. Wallace, 351 N.C. 481, 503, 528 S.E.2d 326, 341. "The sufficiency of an indictment is a question of law reviewed de novo." State v. White, 372 N.C. 248, 250, 827 S.E.2d 80, 82 (2019).

B. Sufficiency of Indictments

Our Supreme Court has clearly outlined the requirements for a sufficient indictment: Generally, an indictment is fatally...

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