Heard in the Court of Appeals December 4, 2014
Attorney General Roy Cooper by Assistant Attorney General Ryan C. Zellar for the State.
Ryan McKaig for defendant-appellant.
STEELMAN, Judge. Judges GEER and STEPHENS concur.
Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 7 January 2014 by Judge Reuben F. Young in Wayne County Superior Court, No. 12 CRS 52591.
The trial court did not err by denying defendant's request for an instruction on duress or necessity as a defense to possession of a firearm by a felon.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
Officers Anthony Ravine and Cornelius Crittendon of the Goldsboro Police Department were on duty on 24 May 2012. At about 6:00 p.m., they observed Jamel Edwards (defendant) standing with other persons in a vacant lot on the corner of Swan and E. John Streets in Goldsboro. When defendant saw the officers, he " hurriedly started walking away" and " reached into his waistband and pulled out a silver item which [the officers] immediately saw was a handgun[.]" " [Defendant] dropped the handgun" and " was walking away, but when he saw Officer Crittenden he turned and came back[.]" At that time, the officers placed defendant under arrest and took possession of the weapon, a 9 mm. " Smith & Wesson semiautomatic handgun." Following his arrest, defendant executed a written waiver of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), and was interviewed by Officer Crittendon. Defendant's statement to Officer Crittendon is discussed below.
Defendant was indicted for possession of a firearm by a felon on 4 December 2012. This matter came on for trial at the 7 January 2014 criminal session of Superior Court in Wayne County. In addition to the testimony of Officers Ravine and Crittendon, the State presented evidence that defendant had been convicted of a felony prior to the date of his arrest. On 7 January 2014 the jury returned a verdict finding defendant guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon. The trial court imposed an active sentence of 14 to 26 months imprisonment.
II. Instruction on Defense of Duress or Necessity
In his sole argument on appeal, defendant asserts that the trial court erred by denying his request for a jury instruction on duress or necessity as a defense to the charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. We disagree.
A. Standard of Review
" In North Carolina, requests for special jury instructions are allowable under N.C.G.S. § 1-181 and 1A-1, Rule 51(b) of the North Carolina General Statues. N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 1-181, 1A-1, Rule 51(b) [(2013)]. It is well settled that the trial court must give the instructions requested, at least in substance, if they are proper and supported by the evidence. 'The proffered instruction must . . . contain a correct legal request and be pertinent to the evidence and the issues of the case.'" State v. Craig, 167 N.C.App. 793, 795, 606 S.E.2d 387, 388 (2005) (citing Robert ...