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State v. Rice

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

April 4, 2017

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
TREVON DEANDRE RICE, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 23 February 2017.

         Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 24 February 2016 by Judge Alma L. Hinton in Edgecombe County, Nos. 14 CRS 51350, 52372 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Jason R. Rosser, for the State.

          Mary McCullers Reece for defendant-appellant.

          MURPHY, Judge.

         Trevon Deandre ("Defendant") appeals from his convictions for two counts of possession of stolen goods in violation of N.C. G.S. § 14-71.1 (2015). On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying his motions to dismiss the charges on the ground that the State failed to offer sufficient evidence that he constructively possessed two stolen firearms that were found in a van he had rented. After careful review, we reject Defendant's arguments and conclude that he received a fair trial free from error.

          Factual Background

         The State presented evidence at trial tending to establish the following facts: On 26 April 2014, Ronald Bryant called the Rocky Mount Police Department to report that his home had been broken into and that various items of his personal property, including his .9 millimeter Smith & Wesson handgun ("the Smith & Wesson"), had been stolen. Eleven days later on 7 May 2014, Christian Boswell's home in Rocky Mount was broken into and, among other items of personal property, Boswell's .380 millimeter Kel-Tec semi-automatic pistol ("the Kel-Tec") was stolen.

         On the same day Boswell's home was robbed, Terry Reeves ("Reeves") was driving by Brandy Braswell's house in Rocky Mount and noticed that a van was parked in the driveway. He returned and observed that the van's rear doors were open and he saw two men walking around the house. Upon seeing Reeves, the two men ran back to the van, pulled onto Flood Store Road, and took off. Reeves was, however, able to get the van's license plate number before he lost sight of it.

         Detective Jack Sewell ("Detective Sewell") with the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office was assigned as the lead investigator on the case. Upon looking into the license plate number of the van, Detective Sewell determined that it was owned by H & J Auto Sales Company ("H & J"). Detective Sewell drove to H & J and spoke with the owner who informed him that the van in question had been rented to Shirelanda Clark ("Clark").

          Detective Sewell reached out to Clark who informed him that she, in turn, had rented the van to Defendant and Dezmon Bullock ("Bullock"). She stated that Defendant had paid her $35.00 to use the van and that he was going to return it to her on 8 May 2014. Detective Sewell asked Clark to call him if Bullock or Defendant contacted her again.

         On 8 May 2014, Clark reached out to Detective Sewell and told him that Defendant had called her and asked to rent the van for a few more days and that he had arranged to meet her close to the car lot shortly. Detective Sewell drove to the lot to meet with Clark and called Officer Jill Tyson ("Officer Tyson") to assist him as backup.

         Defendant arrived and parked the van around the corner from the car lot and walked over to Clark while Bullock, who had accompanied Defendant, remained in the vehicle. Officer Tyson parked her patrol vehicle behind the van while Detective Sewell confronted Defendant in the parking lot.

         Detective Sewell, Clark, and Defendant walked over to the van, and while they were approaching, Bullock exited the vehicle. Defendant, Clark, and Bullock all gave Detective Sewell and Officer Tyson permission to search the van. Detective Sewell and Officer Tyson began searching the vehicle and discovered, among other items, a new basketball goal still in its box which Defendant claimed ownership of, for which he said he had lost the receipt.

          After claiming ownership of the basketball goal, Defendant suddenly and abruptly stated that he had an appointment and had to leave. Defendant then left the area leaving his ...


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