Appeal by defendant from Kirby, Judge in No. 8128SC525. Judgments entered 5 December 1980 in Superior Court, Buncombe County. Appeal by defendant from Thornburg, Judge in No. 8128SC618. Order revoking defendant's appearance bond entered 24 March 1981 in Superior Court, Buncombe County. Both cases heard in the Court of Appeals 11 November 1981.
Becton, Judge. Chief Judge Morris and Judge Arnold concur.
During July and August 1980 the Asheville Police Vice Squad conducted an investigation of Classic Escort Service, a business owned and operated by defendant. During this period, Vice Squad detectives observed females employed by defendant leaving the business with males and accompanying them to motel rooms. Later four of these employees pleaded guilty to prostitution.
Detective Vance Smith testified that he initially went to defendant's place of business on 22 July 1980 to investigate a complaint of vandalism. At that time defendant asked him if he had any information regarding an investigation of her business. She informed Smith that such information "would be worth a dinner or something of that nature." Smith discussed this conversation with his supervisor and began tape-recording his subsequent conversations with defendant. On 8 August 1980 defendant told Smith she would pay him $200 a month for the information. Four days later defendant met with Smith in his van and paid him the $200 in cash. She was arrested upon leaving the van.
Defendant testified that she has known Smith since 1973 and had sexual relations with him at least six times in 1979 and 1980. She testified that she met with Smith in July 1980 to discuss his coming to work for her as a security guard for $200 a month and that Smith was the one who suggested the idea of his receiving money in exchange for information. Defendant denied having any knowledge that her employees were prostitutes.
In her prostitution and bribery cases, defendant brings forward five assignments of error. We have examined each one and deem Assignment of Error No. 2 to be dispositive on appeal. Therein defendant assigned error to the admission into evidence of various tape recordings of alleged conversations between her and Smith during August 1980. She alleged that the tapes were played to the jury over her objections and before any proper foundation was laid. Prior to their admission into evidence, Smith
testified about his conversations with defendant from 4 August until 12 August 1980. He then informed the jury that six of these conversations had been recorded. The State proceeded to play tapes of conversations between defendant and Smith which allegedly occurred on 6, 8, 11 and 12 August. The record on appeal indicates that portions of each tape were inaudible, and that the court reporter made no attempt to transcribe any of the tapes.
We agree with defendant that this evidence constituted prejudicial and reversible error. In State v. Lynch, 279 N.C. 1, 181 S.E.2d 561 (1971), our Supreme Court emphasized that taperecorded evidence must be properly authenticated before it is admissible. The trial court must, therefore, conduct a voir dire hearing to determine the tapes' admissibility upon objection to their ...