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North Carolina v. Black

Filed: May 4, 1982.

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
HOWARD BLACK



Appeal by the defendant from Judge Charles T. Kivett, presiding at the 14 September 1981 Criminal Session of Forsyth Superior Court.

Mitchell, Justice. Justice Exum dissenting.

Mitchell

In this appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court erroneously allowed the district attorney to cross-examine and impeach a State's witness and erroneously admitted incompetent evidence. For the reasons enunciated herein, we hold that the defendant had a fair trial free from prejudicial error.

On the evening of 16 April 1981, Artemus Peterson, then eight years old, and his brother Monte Peterson, seven years old, were approached by a man as they walked down a street near their home in Winston-Salem. The man asked if they knew where someone named Ronnie lived. Acting pursuant to standing instructions from their mother, the boys feigned ignorance although they in fact knew where Ronnie lived.

The man grabbed the boys by the napes of their necks and threw them into the front seat of his 1970 Impala. He drove them to a house and parked in the driveway. They remained in the car, playing pattycake, while he went inside. When he returned, he drove by a convenience store and bought some red wine and a bag of Cheese Doodles. He finally took them to Winston Lake Park, parked and told them the car was out of gas.

He tried to make them drink the wine, but they repeatedly spit it out without swallowing. Monte eventually went to sleep in the back seat of the car, and the man took Artemus into some woods near the lake. After getting a drink of water, Artemus went to sleep on a park bench. When he awakened, his pants and underpants were off and his shirt was pulled up.

The man, naked from the waist down, approached the boy and according to Artemus, he "made me suck his weenie." The man later attempted anal sex and hit the victim in the crotch with his fist.

Meanwhile, Officer J. A. Berry of the Winston-Salem Police Department discovered the Impala in the parking area. He awakened Monte, learned his identity, and took him home.

After warning Artemus to keep quiet or the KKK would throw him in the lake, the man drove him to a street corner near his home. Artemus arrived home shortly after the police took Monte there. The boys then related the evening's events.

The police ascertained an address by means of the license plate number of the Impala. Upon their arrival at the address, the door was answered by the defendant, Howard Black. When the defendant told them he was the only one who used the car, the officers asked him to come to police headquarters.

After the defendant was advised of his constitutional rights and he signed a rights waiver form, officers confronted him with the boys' story. He denied any involvement. When the officers asked him to submit to having his photograph placed in a lineup with other photographs, he refused and instead demanded an immediate confrontation with his accusers. The boys were in fact brought to the police station and identified the defendant as the perpetrator.

The defendant first assigns that the trial court erroneously allowed the district attorney to lead one of the State's witnesses. In questioning Steve Jones about the defendant Howard Black, the following exchange took place:

Q. (Mr. Tisdale) Does he walk with a limp?

A. Walk with a what?

Q. A limp.

A. I walk with a limp?

Q. Yes.

A. Yeah, walk with a stick.

Q. No, I'm talking about Howard Black.

A. No, not to my memory.

Q. Do you know whether he was ever in an automobile accident?

A. No, I do not. I do not.

Q. Does he walk with a limp?

Mr. Liner: Objection. He has already asked that.

The Court: Objection overruled. Go ahead and answer the question.

Exception No. 2

Q. (Mr. Tisdale) Does he walk ...


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