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North Carolina v. Crabb

Filed: December 15, 1981.

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
JOSEPH DONALD CRABB



Appeal by defendant from Rousseau, Judge. Judgment entered 4 February 1981 in Superior Court, Guilford County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 10 November 1981.

Hedrick, Judge. Judges Clark and Martin (Harry C.) concur.

Hedrick

In his first assignment of error, defendant contends that the court erred in denying his motion to dismiss and submitting the charge of involuntary manslaughter to the jury. He presents a two-fold argument: that the State failed to prove that defendant's driving was the proximate cause of Mitchell's death and that there was insufficient evidence presented that the driving was done in a culpably negligent manner.

Involuntary manslaughter is the

unlawful and unintentional killing of another human being without malice and which proximately results from the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony or not naturally dangerous to human life, or from the commission of some act done in an unlawful or culpably negligent manner, or from the culpable omission to perform some legal duty.

State v. Everhart, 291 N.C. 700, 702, 231 S.E.2d 604, 606 (1977).

In ruling upon a motion for nonsuit, the trial judge considers the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and gives every reasonable inference in favor of the State. State v. Everhart, supra. The motion must be denied if there is evidence -- direct, circumstantial, or a combination of both -- from which the jury can find that the charge contained in the bill of indictment or warrant was committed by the defendant. State v. Marr, 26 N.C. App. 286, 215 S.E.2d 866, cert. denied and appeal dismissed, 288 N.C. 248, 217 S.E.2d 673 (1975).

In the case at hand the following evidence, viewed most favorably to the State, was presented: At approximately midnight, defendant was driving on a curvy road at such a speed that other occupants of the car were screaming and begging him to slow down. The road was posted with traffic signs warning of curves. Defendant had been drinking. The car driven by defendant ran off the road and collided with a tree. At the site of the

accident were found a torn-up earth embankment, skid marks totaling 141 feet 3 inches, one partially uprooted tree, bark removed from several other trees, and a car which had been extensively damaged. The deceased was not found in the car immediately after the accident. The body of the deceased was found twenty-six feet from the car soon after the accident occurred and the cause of death was determined to be a fractured skull.

We find the above evidence sufficient to permit the inference that the fatal injury to Tony Mitchell was a proximate result of the automobile accident which occurred due to the culpably negligent driving of defendant. The motion for nonsuit was properly denied.

In his next assignment of error defendant argues that the court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the charge of failure to render assistance after an automobile accident, a violation of G.S. ยง 20-166. Again, we hold the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the State, sufficient to have been submitted to the jury. Defendant himself testified that "I figured that [Tony Mitchell] was knocked out or something. . . . I did not tell the [occupants of the house] that there might be a man injured nor did I tell them I wanted to call the police or an ambulance." Defendant stated that he knowingly lied about hitchhiking, rather than disclose the accident, because he was scared. This evidence alone is competent to provide the inference that defendant knew that Tony Mitchell was injured and willfully failed to render assistance. This assignment of error is overruled.

Defendant next contends the court committed prejudicial error in its summary of the evidence and statement of defendant's contentions by placing before the jury a defense to excuse any wrongful driving by defendant, when in fact he has steadfastly alleged that he was never behind the wheel of the ...


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