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State v. Goins

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

February 18, 2014

STATE of North Carolina
Harold GOINS, Jr.

Heard in the Court of Appeals 21 January 2014.

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Appeal by Defendant from judgments entered 11 April 2013 by Judge Arnold O. Jones, II in Superior Court, New Hanover County.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney General K.D. Sturgis, for the State.

Ryan McKaig, for Defendant.

McGEE, Judge.

Harold Goins, Jr. (" Defendant" ) appeals from his convictions for first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, three counts of first-degree sexual offense, assault with a deadly weapon, communicating threats, and being a violent habitual felon. At trial, the State's witnesses included Johnathan Stevens (" Mr. Stevens" ), who testified that he drove Defendant to the apartment of Jacquelyn Goins (" Ms. Goins" ) on 21 July 2010. Ms. Goins testified that Defendant is her cousin and that Defendant came to her apartment with his brother, Mr. Stevens. She testified that Mr. Stevens left the apartment after about twenty minutes, and Defendant subsequently attacked her. The facts relevant to the issues on appeal are discussed in greater detail in the analysis section of this opinion.

I. Speedy Trial

Defendant first argues the trial court " abused its discretion when it denied [Defendant's] motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy

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trial." To determine whether a defendant's right to a speedy trial has been infringed, we consider four factors: " (1) the length of delay, (2) the reason for the delay, (3) the defendant's assertion of his right to a speedy trial, and (4) prejudice to the defendant resulting from the delay." State v. McBride, 187 N.C.App. 496, 498, 653 S.E.2d 218, 220 (2007); see also Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101, 117 (1972).

A. Length of Delay

For speedy trial analysis, the relevant period of delay begins at indictment. State v. Friend, __ N.C.App. __, __, 724 S.E.2d 85, 90, disc. review denied, 366 N.C. 402, 735 S.E.2d 188 (2012). In the present case, the relevant period began 18 January 2011 and ended upon Defendant's trial, on 1 April 2013. Thus, the relevant period for the first Barker factor is approximately twenty-seven months, from 18 January 2011 to 1 April 2013.

B. Reason for the Delay

As to the reason for the delay, Defendant bears the burden of " offering prima facie evidence showing that the delay was caused by the neglect or willfulness of the prosecution[.]" State v. Washington, 192 N.C.App. 277, 283, 665 S.E.2d 799, 804 (2008). Only after the defendant has carried his burden " must the State offer evidence fully explaining the reasons for the delay and sufficient to rebut the prima facie evidence." Id. The " constitutional guarantee does not outlaw good-faith delays which are reasonably necessary for the State to prepare and present its case." Id.

Defendant failed to carry this burden. In his brief to this Court, Defendant concedes there is no " deliberate delay in an attempt to hamper the defense" by the State. In his motion for a speedy trial, Defendant offered no evidence showing that the State's neglect or willfulness caused a delay. Furthermore, in arguing to the trial court that the charges should be dismissed for speedy trial violations, defense counsel alleged merely that " the defense has never, to my knowledge, made a motion to continue, joined in any motion to continue, asked for any continuance or delay for this trial." Defendant made no allegations as to neglect or willfulness of the State.

Nevertheless, the State offered reasons to explain the delay. Defendant contends the State's reasons— a backlog at the State Bureau of Investigation (" SBI" ) crime lab, the SBI's failure to fully analyze the rape kit, other cases on the docket, the need to have an out-of-county judge, and Defendant's motion for a change of venue— " were entirely caused by or under the control of the [S]tate to rectify."

In State v. Tann, 302 N.C. 89, 93, 273 S.E.2d 720, 723 (1981), a speedy trial case, the defendant moved for an examination to determine competency. Further delay resulted when defense counsel withdrew. The case was calendared for trial " one or more times" but not reached due to the length of the calendar. Id. at 95, 273 S.E.2d at 724. Our Supreme Court held that " [a]ll such reasons have been recognized consistently as valid justification for delay." Id. " Inherent in every criminal prosecution is the probability of some delay ... and for that reason the right to a speedy trial is necessarily relative." Id. at 94, 273 S.E.2d at 724.

As in Tann, there is no indication in the present case that the State either negligently or purposefully underutilized court resources. Accordingly, we conclude the delay was caused by neutral factors. Defendant failed to carry his burden to show that delay was caused by the State's neglect or willfulness. This factor weighs against Defendant's speedy trial claim.

C. Assertion of the Right to a Speedy Trial

Defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial in November 2011. " Defendant's failure to assert his right to a speedy trial, or his failure to assert his right sooner in the process, does not foreclose his speedy trial claim, but does weigh against his contention[.]" State v. Grooms, 353 N.C. 50, 63, 540 S.E.2d 713, 722 (2000). In Grooms, the defendant's assertion came ...

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