in the Court of Appeals 23 February 2017.
by defendant from judgments entered 14 March 2016 by Judge
Kendra D. Hill in Wake County Nos. 15 CRS 215729, 215731-33
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Special Deputy Attorney
General David P. Brenskelle, for the State.
Rawls for defendant-appellant.
Bradford ("Defendant") appeals from his convictions
for (1) two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with
intent to kill inflicting serious injury; (2) two counts of
discharging a firearm into occupied property; and (3) assault
with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. On appeal, he
contends that the trial court erred by providing an
instruction to the jury on flight. Specifically, he asserts
that because he was a passenger - not the driver - of the
vehicle that fled the scene while he shot at a crowded car,
the State failed to present sufficient evidence at trial to
merit such an instruction.
also contends that several clerical errors were made by the
trial court necessitating remand. Specifically, he asserts
that the incorrect file numbers were recorded on the verdict
sheets, final judgment forms, and appellate entries. After
careful review, we conclude that Defendant received a fair
trial free from error, however, we remand for the limited
purpose of correcting the clerical errors present on the face
of the final judgment forms and related documents.
approximately 5:00 p.m. on 14 July 2015, Najee Cunningham
("Najee") and his brother, James Cunningham
("James"), drove in Najee's silver Buick to the
Exxon station at the intersection of New Bern Avenue and
Trawick Road in Raleigh, North Carolina after picking up
Najee's one year old son, N.D.,  from daycare. After pulling
into the station and parking at one of the gas pumps, Najee
went inside to buy gas leaving N.D. in the backseat of the
car. While Najee was paying, James began fueling the Buick.
James was pumping gas, he noticed a burgundy Volkswagen
Passat parked in front of Najee's car at another pump.
The front passenger-side window of the Passat was open and
James saw Defendant staring out of it at him with a
"crazy look." James asked Defendant, "[w]hat
the F were you looking at?" Defendant responded by
pointing a black handgun out of the car window at James.
thereafter, Najee returned to his car. James told Najee that
Defendant had pointed a gun at him, and Najee proceeded to
get out of the Buick and yell at Defendant and the driver of
the Passat, William Holden ("Holden"), that his son
was in the backseat of the car. He then returned to the Buick
at which point both James and Holden began driving their
respective vehicles toward the station exit.
reached the station exit, Holden's Passat was positioned
directly in front of Najee's Buick. Suddenly, the Passat
accelerated causing its tires to "squall" as it
pulled out of the gas station and onto New Bern Avenue. As
the Passat was turning, Defendant leaned out of the open
passenger-side window, and fired his gun multiple times back
towards the Buick and the station. One of the bullets went
through Najee's front passenger door, hitting Najee - who
was seated in the front passenger seat just feet from one
year old N.D. - in his buttocks. Another bullet went through
the wall of the nearby Microtel Inn and Suites hotel hitting
Wylie Mendicino ("Mendicino") - who was staying at
the hotel and laying in bed at the time with his girlfriend
Logan Ardrey - in his right thigh. The Passat continued down
New Bern Avenue at a high rate of speed. Both Mendicino and
Najee were taken to WakeMed and treated for their gunshot
wounds shortly thereafter.
speeding away from the Exxon station, Defendant told Holden
to stop the Passat at Rodgers Lane. He then abandoned Holden
and the vehicle and left the area on foot. Shortly
thereafter, he disposed of his handgun in an unknown
examining surveillance video footage from the Exxon station,
detectives with the Raleigh Police Department determined
Holden's identity based on the Passats' license plate
number. Detectives contacted Holden's father who was the
registered owner of the Passat. Holden's mother then
called Holden, who came to his parent's house where he
was interviewed about the shooting. During the interview,
Holden identified Defendant as the shooter. Defendant was
subsequently located and arrested.
August 2015, Defendant was indicted on charges of (1)
assaulting Najee with a deadly weapon with intent to kill
inflicting serious injury; (2) conspiracy to commit assault
with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious
injury; (3) assaulting N.D. with a deadly weapon
with intent to kill; (4) assaulting James with a deadly
weapon with intent to kill; (5) two counts of discharging a
firearm into occupied property; and (6) assaulting Wylie
Mendicino with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting
serious injury. A jury trial was held in Wake County Superior
Court beginning on 7 March 2016 before the Honorable Kendra
trial, the State proffered the testimony of James, who stated
that neither he nor Najee were armed with a gun during the
gas station incident. He further testified that he did not
provoke Defendant into shooting at them in any way. The State
additionally introduced the testimony of Najee who also
stated that he and James were unarmed that day.
addition, the State introduced the testimony of the driver,
Holden, who stated the following during direct examination:
Q. Did you at any point see the [D]efendant shooting or hear
him shooting from your vehicle back towards the gas station?
A. As I started to leave.
Q. Okay. So how soon after you get onto New Bern Avenue do
you hear or see gunfire?
A. Maybe five seconds. I'm not sure. About five seconds.
Q. Could you tell where the gray Buick was when the shots
A. In my mirror.
Q. In your mirror? In your mirror back at the exit or
actually out on New Bern Avenue?
A. Out on New Bern.
Q. Out on New Bern. Okay. About how much distance between the
two of you? Between the two cars, I should say.
A. I'm not exactly sure.
Q. Do you recall hearing or seeing any gunfire come from that