Heard in the Court of Appeals January 7, 2015
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney General Richard L. Harrison, for the State.
David L. Neal for defendant.
TYSON, Judge. Judges ELMORE and DAVIS concur.
Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 5 September 2013 by Judge James G. Bell in Cumberland County Superior Court,
No. 09 CRS 62270.
Defendant appeals from his conviction of second degree murder. We find no error.
Defendant and Ronnell Wright were next-door neighbors. An altercation between defendant and Wright ended when defendant fatally stabbed Wright in the chest. On the evening of 29 August 2009, defendant's half-brother, Ronald Jackson, accused Wright of breaking his sliding glass door. An argument ensued between Jackson and Wright. Wright called the police. Fayetteville police officers arrived at the residence, spoke with Jackson and Wright, and left about twenty minutes later.
Defendant was in the company of his friends, Marqui Gerald and James Williams, when his mother called and told him to come home. Someone had tried to break in the house. Defendant drove home and parked in the driveway. Gerald and Williams arrived in a separate vehicle and parked at Gerald's aunt's house across the street.
Wright was standing in his driveway with his fiancé e, his mother, and his two-year old son. Defendant and Wright began shouting at each other. A physical altercation ensued between the two men in Wright's yard. Wright's mother, Aurelia Wright, and his fiancé e, Shonda Cromartie, both witnessed the fight. They testified the fight began by defendant punching Wright. According to Ms. Wright and Ms. Cromartie, Wright's two year-old son came near him while he was fighting with defendant. Wright turned away from defendant to move his son out of the way. He picked up the child and moved him one or two feet. As Wright turned back toward defendant, defendant stabbed him in the chest with a knife. Wright did not possess a weapon during the fight.
Defendant is smaller in height and weight than Wright. According to the medical examiner, Wright was five feet, nine inches tall and weighed 164 pounds. Defendant's mother testified that defendant's height is five feet, two inches tall and he weighs about 120 pounds.
James Williams witnessed the fight and testified on behalf of defendant. Because of the size difference between Wright and defendant, Williams testified that it looked as though Wright was fighting with a " kid." He stated that Wright grabbed defendant and defendant's feet were dangling " like a cartoon character." Williams further testified that he was unsure whether Wright and defendant were " locked up" together when defendant stabbed Wright. Williams realized Wright had been stabbed when he lifted up his arm and stated that defendant had stabbed him.
Defendant's half-brother, Ronald Jackson, also witnessed the fight. Jackson testified Wright had punched defendant first and initiated the fight. Wright held defendant in a headlock and the two wrestled. They bounced off a tree, disengaged, and Jackson saw that Wright had been stabbed. Marqui Gerald was inside his aunt's house and did not witness the fight. He testified that defendant always carried a pocketknife on his belt. He believed the knife had a folding blade four inches long.
Defendant put forth evidence of a dispute that occurred a few days before the fight between Wright and Jackson. A group of people, including Wright and Jackson, were socializing under Wright's carport. Before
the day was over, Wright's fiancée's cell phone went missing. Wright went next door to Jackson's house and demanded that Jackson tell his friend, " Squid," to return the phone. He told Jackson there were " going to be some problems." Wright went to the high school that Jackson and Squid attended and told Squid he was going to " beat his ass."
Defendant ran from the scene immediately after he stabbed Wright. Wright walked towards the house and his mother called 911. When police officers arrived, Wright was bleeding badly and losing consciousness. The officers were able to speak briefly with Wright. He told them that he had been involved in an altercation with the neighbor and the neighbor had stabbed him. Wright told the officers that the neighbor said he was going to kill him. Soon thereafter, Wright died of a single stab wound to the left chest.
Defendant was apprehended three days later during a traffic stop in South Carolina. Several firearms were found inside the car. Defendant possessed a passport bearing the name of Shamsiddeen Muhammmand Rasheed in his pocket. A piece of paper was also found ...