in the Court of Appeals 22 August 2016.
by Defendant from judgments entered 1 May 2015 by Judge W.
Allen Cobb Jr. in Superior Court, Duplin County No. 12 CRS
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Special Deputy Attorney
General Sandra Wallace-Smith, for the State.
Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate
Defender Daniel Shatz, for Defendant.
Lee Stroud ("Defendant") appeals from judgments
entered after a jury found him guilty of first-degree felony
murder, larceny, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and
possession of stolen goods.
body of Henry Lionel Bouyer, Jr. ("Bouyer") was
discovered in a shallow ditch on the side of Carrolls Road in
Warsaw, North Carolina, in the early morning hours of 21
August 2012. Dr. Anuradha Arcot ("Dr. Arcot"), the
forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified
Bouyer died from three shots fired from a shotgun at close
range - one to his neck, a second to his back, and a third
near his groin. Dr. Arcot was unable to determine a specific
time of death, and could only say that Bouyer died sometime
within the twenty-four hours prior to the discovery of his
body. The State presented a timeline of the events
surrounding Bouyer's death.
days prior to the discovery of Bouyer's body, Defendant
and his stepson, Jeremy Stephens ("Stephens"),
visited the home of Travis Jones ("Jones"), a
mechanic. Defendant and Stephens asked Jones what alterations
he could make to the appearance of a motorcycle. Jones
replied that if he was provided the necessary parts and was
paid for his labor, he could make any modifications they
desired. Defendant and Stephens did not have a motorcycle
with them on that day.
6:00 p.m. on 20 August 2012, Bouyer drove his motorcycle to a
BP station in Warsaw to buy a lottery ticket. Bouyer's
motorcycle, a Suzuki GSXR 1000, was a distinctive black and
yellow color with a Joker emblem painted on its side. From
the BP station, Bouyer drove to a barbershop for a haircut,
arriving around 6:45 p.m. While receiving his haircut, Bouyer
made and received between five and ten phone calls, annoying
his barber and friend, Martin Batts ("Batts").
Bouyer paid Batts with cash from his wallet, and left on his
motorcycle between 7:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
was next seen at the Small Towns Convenience Mart
("Small Towns") in nearby Magnolia, North Carolina.
Ivey Chestnutt ("Chestnutt"), a clerk at Small
Towns, saw Bouyer enter the store around 7:30 p.m. Chestnutt
and Bouyer began a conversation, during which Bouyer received
a number of phone calls. After finishing one of his phone
calls, Bouyer told Chestnutt he had "a guy that wants to
buy my motorcycle." Bouyer explained that he "ran
it out to him for a couple days, and right now he wants to
keep bugging me, wanting [me] to rent the motorcycle out to
him or wanting to buy it." Bouyer added that if the
unnamed person would pay him $5, 000.00, he would sell that
person the motorcycle. Bouyer received one more phone call,
said goodbye to Chestnutt, and left.
rode his motorcycle back to the BP station in Warsaw to meet
with Defendant and Stephens. Dedra McGowan
("McGowan"), a clerk at the BP station, saw Bouyer
enter the BP station first, followed by the Defendant shortly
thereafter. After speaking inside the BP station for only a
moment, Bouyer and Defendant left the station and continued
talking in the parking lot with Bouyer sitting on his
motorcycle, and Defendant and Stephens sitting in
Defendant's Jeep Cherokee ("the Jeep"). McGowan
testified that the three "looked comfortable, " and
"looked like they knew each other already."
Surveillance footage from the BP station confirmed
McGowan's testimony, showing Bouyer and Defendant inside
the BP station for a short period of time, and also Bouyer,
Defendant, and Stephens talking in the parking lot for about
four minutes. Following this conversation, Defendant and
Stephens left the parking lot at 8:59 p.m. in Defendant's
Jeep, and Bouyer headed in the same direction on his
motorcycle seventeen seconds later. No testimony presented at
trial tended to show Bouyer's whereabouts after 8:59 p.m.
on 20 August 2012.
same night, Defendant visited the home of his friend, Ellie
Graham ("Graham"), in Rose Hill, North Carolina.
Graham initially testified that "it was a little after
9:00 [p.m.] when [Defendant] came to my house[, ]" but
later testified that Defendant arrived "somewhere
between 9:00 [p.m.] and 11:00 [p.m.]" Graham testified
that during a thirty minute visit, Defendant "wasn't
himself that day" because he was crying, and was
generally distraught about marital problems he was having
with his wife. Graham testified that other than Defendant
having red eyes associated with crying, he did not notice
anything different about Defendant's physical appearance.
Graham testified that Defendant was alone, and that Defendant
stated he needed to borrow some money so he could pick
Stephens up from work that night.
following day, Defendant and Stephens returned to Jones'
house around 4:00 p.m. with a motorcycle, later identified as
Bouyer's. Defendant and Stephens told Jones they would
like the motorcycle to be stretched out and lowered, and
would like a mural to be painted on its side. Jones told them
that he could not start work on the motorcycle until they
either purchased the required parts or paid him so he could
order the parts himself. Defendant and Stephens did not have
any money with them at the time, so the motorcycle was parked
in a field adjacent to Jones' house.
days later, Defendant and Stephens returned to Jones'
house to ask whether he could sell the bike or otherwise
"get rid of it for them." Jones responded that he
would be unable to find a buyer without the proper paperwork,
but if he was provided with the title to the motorcycle, he
would attempt to find a buyer. During that visit, Jones asked
Defendant and Stephens whether they "finally [got their]
money problem straightened out." Jones testified that
Defendant responded "that any problem that they had, any
money - any problem that they had had been taken care of, and
then [Defendant] looked at [Stephens], and [Stephens] smiled,
and that was the end of that conversation."
Law Enforcement Investigation
body was discovered the morning of 21 August 2012 around 7:30
a.m. Among the evidence collected at the scene by law
enforcement was: a motorcycle helmet, later identified as
Bouyer's; a broken cell phone; a pear; and a spent
9-millimeter shell casing, found one hundred yards from the
body. Deputy George Garner ("Deputy Garner"), of
the Duplin County Sheriff's Office, was asked to assist
in identifying the phone number for the phone that was found
at the scene. After identifying the phone number, a subpoena
was issued for the subscriber information on the number,
which in turn allowed Deputy Garner to determine that the
phone belonged to Bouyer. The Duplin County Sheriff's
Office also requested and received cell phone records of
Defendant and Stephens, among others.
from the cell phones of Defendant, Stephens, and Bouyer
provided information regarding phone calls and text messages
between Stephens and Bouyer, and the relative locations of
the three phones on the night of 20 August 2012. First, the
call detail records from the phones of Bouyer, Stephens, and
Defendant confirmed that many of the phone calls Bouyer
placed and received on 20 August 2012 were to and from the
cell phone number identified as belonging to Stephens. That
day, Bouyer called Stephens four times, and Stephens called
Bouyer eleven times. The call detail records show that
Defendant's phone was never used to call, and did not
receive a call from, Bouyer's phone on 20 August 2012.
the text detail records show multiple text messages between
Stephens and Bouyer regarding, presumably, the purchase of
Bouyer's motorcycle. Stephens texted Bouyer at 7:29 p.m.
on 20 August 2012 that they would "[m]eet . . . at Small
Towns, " and two minutes later, texted Bouyer that
"[w]e are buying it today, ill [sic] let u [sic] use my
card [sic] to get back tour [sic] crib." The call detail
records also show that Defendant's phone was never used
to send a message to, nor did it ever receive a message from,
the call detail records, through the use of historical cell
site analysis, also provided some evidence of the relative
location of the phones of Bouyer, Defendant, and Stephens on
the night of 20 August 2012. At trial, Agent William Williams
("Agent Williams"), of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, testified that the last two phone calls made
to Bouyer's phone that resulted in location data being
collected were made at 8:20 p.m. and 8:36 p.m. on 20 August
2012. When those calls were received, Bouyer's cell phone
utilized a specific cell tower and sector: tower 4c4, sector
2. Agent Williams testified that both the BP station and
Bouyer's residence were within the "footprint"
of tower 4c4, sector 2, meaning calls made from those
locations would likely be routed through that tower and
sector. Regarding Stephens' phone, Agent Williams
testified that at 8:36 p.m. and 8:39 p.m. on 20 August 2012,
Stephens' phone utilized that same tower and sector,
which indicated that his phone and Bouyer's phone
"would have been within the footprint of this particular
tower, " meaning that they "were relatively close
together." Stephens' phone then utilized the same
tower, but a different sector, sector 3, five times on 20
August 2012, at 9:15 p.m., 9:17 p.m., 9:19 p.m., 9:20 p.m.,
and 9:55 p.m. According to Agent Williams, tower 4c4, sector
3 was significant because it was the sector in which
Bouyer's body was discovered the next morning.
Defendant's phone, Agent Williams testified that it
utilized tower 4c4, sector 1 four times between 9:39 p.m. and
9:48 p.m. Three of those calls - at 9:43 p.m., 9:45 p.m., and
9:48 p.m. - were between Stephens' and Defendant's
phones. Agent Williams explained that tower 4c4, sector 1,
"points" to the northeast, towards Warsaw.
Defendant's phone then utilized a different tower, tower
4bf, sector 1, near Rose Hill, at 11:04 p.m. Though
Defendant's phone made and received a total of
eighty-nine calls on 20 August 2012, it never utilized tower
4c4, sector 3 on that date.
Michael Stevens ("Lt. Stevens"), an investigator
with the Duplin County Sheriff's Office, retrieved the
security footage from the BP station. Lt. Stevens, who was a
friend of Bouyer, knew Bouyer worked as a truck driver and
would often park his truck in the BP station parking lot when
it was not in use. While at the BP station retrieving the
surveillance footage, Lt. Stevens noticed Bouyer's truck
in the parking lot. In searching the truck, the title to
Bouyer's Suzuki motorcycle was located.
reviewing the call detail records and viewing the BP
surveillance footage, law enforcement deemed Stephens a
suspect and began surveillance of him on 24 August 2012.
During the surveillance, officers observed Stephens leave the
Subway restaurant in Rose Hill, North Carolina where he
worked, in Defendant's Jeep. Following him from the
Subway, officers observed Defendant and Stephens make stops
at several locations, and eventually followed the pair to