in the Court of Appeals 24 January 2017.
by Defendant from judgment entered 29 February 2016 by Judge
Stanley L. Allen in Rockingham County, No. 10CRS231 Superior
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Special Deputy Attorney
General Jonathan P. Babb, for the State.
Phillips Black Project, by John R. Mills, for
HUNTER, JR., Robert N., Judge.
D. Jefferson ("Defendant") appeals his sentence of
life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after a term
of twenty-five years, alleging the statute mandating his
sentence violates the Eighth Amendment of the United States
Constitution pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 132
S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012). After review, we
Facts and Background
January 2010, Defendant-then fifteen years old-was charged by
petition with first-degree murder in Rockingham County
Juvenile Court. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2200,
which requires the juvenile court to transfer any defendant
accused of a Class A felony to superior court, the case was
transferred to Rockingham County Superior Court. On 8
February 2010, Defendant was indicted for the first-degree
murder of Timothy Seay. The case was brought to trial on 29
May 2012. This Court summarized the facts as presented at
trial in State v. Jefferson, No. 13-668, 2014
N.C.App. LEXIS 256 ( N.C. Ct. App. Mar. 4, 2014)
On the night of 6 November 2009, defendant, Travis Brown,
Shaquan Beamer ("Beamer"), and defendant's
older cousin, Shavon Reid ("Shavon"), went to the
Icehouse, a bar in Eden, North Carolina. Defendant was
fifteen years old at this time and had been living with
Shavon in Martinsville, Virginia. Prior to the night in
question, defendant had begun carrying a pistol for
protection. He brought the gun with him to the Icehouse but
left it in the car when the group went inside.
At the Icehouse, defendant encountered Jason Gallant
("Gallant"), Timothy Seay ("Seay"), and
Terris Dandridge ("Dandridge"). After about an hour
in the bar, a fistfight broke out. Defendant, Dandridge, and
Gallant were all involved; defendant and Dandridge were seen
pushing each other. The fight was quickly broken up by bar
security, and both groups were forced to go outside.
Defendant left the bar and retrieved his gun from the car.
Once the crowd had moved into the street, Seay's group
began taunting defendant's group. Defendant testified
that he heard a gunshot during the encounter. He then fired
his gun in the direction of the group of people where he
thought the shot had come from until he ran out of bullets.
Devin Turner, a witness to the incident, testified that the
only people he saw firing were defendant and Shavon.
Ultimately, two people were injured and one was killed as a
result of the shooting. Gallant and Dandridge were wounded by
gunshots to the wrist and leg, respectively. Seay was killed
by a gunshot wound to the head and was also shot one time in
the chest, with the bullet getting lodged in his shoulder.
Police later recovered two types of shell casings from the
scene - .40 caliber and .380. Expert testimony established
that the nine .380 casings found at the scene and the bullet
in Seay's shoulder were fired from defendant's gun.
Jefferson, 2014 N.C.App. LEXIS 256 at *2-3. At
trial, the medical examiner testified Seay was killed by the
gunshot wound to his head, which involved a larger caliber
bullet than the gunshot wound to his chest. The jury found
Defendant guilty of first-degree murder under the
felony-murder rule. On 8 June 2012, under then-applicable
state law, the trial court sentenced Defendant to a mandatory
term of life without the possibility of parole.
the pendency of Defendant's appeal, the United States
Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, holding
"mandatory life without parole for those under the age
of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth
Amendment's prohibition on 'cruel and unusual
punishments.'" 132 S.Ct. at 2460, 183 L.Ed.2d 407,
414-15. In response, the General Assembly enacted N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 15A-1340.19B, which provided, inter
alia, the sentence for a defendant found guilty of
first-degree murder solely under the felony murder rule shall
be life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.19B(a)(1) (2015).
Jefferson, 2014 N.C.App. LEXIS 256 at *6-7. A
defendant sentenced under this act must serve a minimum of
twenty-five years before becoming eligible for parole. N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.19A (2015).
result, this Court overturned Defendant's sentence on
appeal and remanded to the trial court for resentencing
pursuant to § 15A-1340.19B. Jefferson, 2014
N.C.App. LEXIS 256 at *6-7. On 29 February 2016, the trial
court held resentencing proceedings, and imposed a sentence
of life with the ...