Heard in the Court of Appeals: September 23, 2014.
Appeal by Defendant from judgments entered 10 July
2013 by Judge Reuben F. Young in Wake County Superior Court, No. 12 CRS 204285,
206010, 12 CRS 003090, 13 CRS 003100, 003101.
Attorney General Roy A. Cooper, III, by Assistant Attorney General Melissa H. Taylor, for the State.
Appellate Defendant Staples Hughes, by Assistant Appellate Defendant John F. Carella, for Defendant-appellant.
DILLON, Judge. Judge HUNTER, Robert C. and Judge DAVIS concur.
Jaired Antonio Jones (" Defendant" ) appeals from convictions for interfering with a witness, assault on a female, habitual misdemeanor assault, five counts of habitual violation of a domestic violence protective order (" DVPO" ), and attaining the status of habitual felon. For the following reasons, we find no error in part, vacate three of Defendant's convictions for habitual violation of a DVPO and the conviction for assault on a female, and remand for resentencing on these judgments.
Defendant was indicted on a number of charges arising from his " on-and-off-again," five-year relationship with Ms. Smith, the mother of his child. On 21 February 2012, Ms. Smith took out a temporary restraining order against Defendant due to a pattern of violent behavior he had exhibited towards her. The next day, Defendant confronted Ms. Smith as she attempted to deliver Defendant's personal items that were in her home to his father's apartment. During the confrontation, Defendant became physically violent
towards Ms. Smith. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Defendant.
Defendant was subsequently served the restraining order while in jail. In spite of the restraining order, Defendant contacted Ms. Smith at least twice by telephone. After Ms. Smith had the protective order extended to a full year, Defendant sent Ms. Smith three letters between 23 March 2012 to 18 June 2012 asking her to drop the charges and not come to court.
Defendant was tried by a jury and found guilty of assault on a female, five counts of habitual violation of a DVPO (for the two phone calls and three letters), and interfering with a witness (for the three letters). Defendant pled guilty to attaining the status of habitual felon based on past felonies unrelated to his relationship with Ms. Smith.
The trial court entered three separate judgments: (1) a judgment sentencing Defendant as a habitual felon to a term of 127 to 165 months of imprisonment for the interfering with a witness conviction; (2) a consolidated judgment for the assault on a female conviction, which was upgraded to habitual misdemeanor assault, and sentenced Defendant as a habitual felon to a consecutive term of 128 to 166 months imprisonment; and (3) a consolidated judgment for the five habitual violation of DVPO convictions, sentencing Defendant as a habitual felon to a consecutive term of 128 to 166 months imprisonment. Defendant filed timely notice of appeal from the trial court's judgments.
Defendant makes three arguments on appeal, which we address in turn.
A. Habitual Violation of DVPO and Interfering with Witness
In his first argument, Defendant contends that the trial court erred in sentencing him for three of the five habitual violation of DVPO counts. Specifically, he argues that he should not have been sentenced on the three counts which were based on his three letters to Ms. Smith since these communications ...