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North Carolina v. Monroe

Filed: January 31, 1992.

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
CASEY JACK MONROE



Appeal of right by defendant pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-27(a) from a judgment imposing a sentence of death entered by Ellis, J., at the 24 March 1986 Criminal Session of Superior Court, Scotland County, upon a jury verdict finding defendant guilty of first-degree murder.

Whichard

Whichard

WHICHARD, Justice.

Defendant was tried capitally on an indictment charging him with the first-degree murder of Karen Gibson Monroe. The jury returned a guilty verdict and recommended that defendant be sentenced to death. Defendant contends that the trial court committed reversible error by conducting unrecorded conferences with jurors in the absence of defendant and his attorneys. We agree and hold that defendant is entitled to a new trial. Although defendant brings forth numerous other assignments of error, their resolution is unnecessary to the Disposition of this appeal.

A complete presentation of the evidence also is unnecessary to an understanding of the legal issue involved in this case. In summary, the State presented evidence tending to show that on the day of the murder defendant was seen in his car following the victim, who was in her car. Later that day, police found the victim's car abandoned on the side of the road. Defendant's palm print was on the left doorpost of the car. Several days after finding the car, investigators discovered the victim's body in a wooded area just over a mile from the plant where defendant worked. Witnesses for the State testified that defendant carried a twenty-gauge shotgun in the trunk of his car. The victim's autopsy revealed that she died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the head. There were thirteen entrance and seven exit wounds in the victim's head and five buckshot-type projectiles were recovered during the autopsy.

On the day of the murder defendant, who later told investigators he did not know the victim, cashed a personal check drawn on the victim's account, made payable to his order, for $126.75. Once paid, this check left a balance of $2.89 in the victim's account. Police seized from defendant's residence a current bank statement showing a zero balance as of the date of the murder, yet witnesses testified that defendant made change for a fifty-dollar bill later that day.

Lottie Gamble, acting as a police informant, gained defendant's confidence and testified at trial regarding defendant's statements to her admitting responsibility for killing the victim. Glenn Locklear, who was incarcerated in the same cell as defendant, also ...


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