in the Supreme Court on 11 April 2017.
discretionary review pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-31 of a
unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, __ N.C.App. __,
786 S.E.2d 328 (2016), finding prejudicial error in a
judgment entered on 27 April 2015 by Judge Donald W. Stephens
in Superior Court, Wake County, and awarding defendant a new
H. Stein, Attorney General, by Joseph L. Hyde, Assistant
Attorney General, for the State-appellant.
Gerding, Appellate Defender, by Amanda S. Zimmer, Assistant
Appellate Defender, for defendant-appellee.
issue before this Court is whether the Court of Appeals erred
by determining that the trial court committed prejudicial
error in the course of instructing the jury concerning the
right of self-defense. After carefully considering the record
in light of the applicable law, we hold that the trial
court's self-defense instructions were not erroneous,
reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals to the contrary,
and remand this case to the Court of Appeals for
consideration of defendant's remaining challenge to the
trial court's judgment.
the early morning hours of 1 January 2014, defendant Joshua
Earl Holloman shot Darryl Anthony Bobbitt a number of times
using a .45 caliber handgun at the corner of Rock Quarry Road
and Martin Luther King Boulevard in Raleigh. According to Mr.
Bobbitt, he and Mariah Mann, whom he believed to be his
girlfriend, went to a bar to celebrate the imminent arrival
of the New Year on the evening of 31 December 2013. Shortly
after midnight, Mr. Bobbitt decided to wait in his vehicle
until the time that the bar closed and Ms. Mann was ready to
leave given that relations between the two of them had become
strained during the course of the evening. After Ms. Mann
left the bar, the two of them returned to Mr. Bobbitt's
home, where they began to argue. Eventually, Ms. Mann left
Mr. Bobbitt's home on foot. After his mother and
stepfather failed to induce Ms. Mann to return to the family
home, Mr. Bobbitt began searching for Ms. Mann and eventually
located her near some woods along Martin Luther King
Boulevard in Raleigh.
locating Ms. Mann, Mr. Bobbitt exited his car and crossed the
road for the purpose of attempting to persuade Ms. Mann to
enter his vehicle. In view of the fact that Ms. Mann appeared
to be adhering to his request, Mr. Bobbitt reversed course
and began walking back to his vehicle. As he did so, Mr.
Bobbitt heard someone say, "Oh, you put your hands on
her." According to Mr. Bobbitt:
Once I heard that, I turned around. I looked back, saw the
gun, so of course I had my gun. I turned back around, reached
for my gun, and once I turned back around, I was already
I got shot, stumbled. Next thing I know, I'm looking at
the pavement, and I just see somebody standing over me.
Bobbitt denied having fired any shots from his own weapon.
Mr. Bobbitt sustained four gunshot wounds, two of which
entered his stomach, one of which entered his left leg, and
one of which pierced his right arm.
confirming Mr. Bobbitt's account of the events leading up
to the confrontation, Ms. Mann testified that, while Mr.
Bobbitt was trying to get her to enter his car, she was
attempting to call defendant, with whom she had also been
romantically involved and with whom she had been in contact
earlier in the evening for the purpose of requesting that he
come get her. As she attempted to contact defendant, Mr.
Bobbitt took her phone out of her hand. Upon arriving at the
location at which Ms. Mann and Mr. Bobbitt were standing,
defendant parked his car, got out of his vehicle, and told
Ms. Mann to get inside. After complying with defendant's
request, Ms. Mann lowered her head and began crying. As she
wept, Ms. Mann heard defendant ask Mr. Bobbitt if "he
[had] put his hands on [Ms. Mann]" before hearing the
firing of several gunshots. After the firing of these
gunshots, defendant returned to the car, told Ms. Mann that
he thought that he had shot Mr. Bobbitt, and drove away.
Dajui was driving her daughter, Roxana, home from a New
Year's Eve party when a vehicle sped in front of them and
stopped in the middle of the street. At that point, the
Dajuis saw the driver of the vehicle get out of the car,
reach for a firearm, and begin shooting at a second
individual who was standing at the intersection of Rock
Quarry Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard. After the man
fired several shots, the Dajuis saw the second man lying in
Sergeant Jennings Bunch of the Raleigh Police Department was
patrolling in the area and happened to be at the intersection
of Rock Quarry Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard at the
time that the shooting occurred. Like the Dajuis, Sergeant
Bunch saw the driver emerging from a vehicle that had stopped
at the intersection. After hearing angry voices and a series
of gunshots, Sergeant Bunch saw the driver of the stopped
vehicle standing over and pointing a handgun at a second man,
who was lying on the ground. Upon making these observations,
Sergeant Bunch fired several shots into the air, an action
that caused the driver of the vehicle to leave the scene.
other hand, defendant testified that in the early morning
hours of 1 January 2014, he received a voice mail and a phone
call from Ms. Mann, who appeared to be in a distressed
condition, asking defendant to pick her up on Martin Luther
King Boulevard. After arriving at the indicated location,
defendant observed Ms. Mann walking on the sidewalk while
being followed by another individual. Upon reaching Ms.
Mann's location, defendant stopped his vehicle beside
her, exited his vehicle while holding his gun by his side,
and told Ms. Mann to get into his vehicle. When he noticed
that Ms. Mann was crying and that there was blood on her
face, defendant asked the man walking behind her whether
"he [had] put his hands on her, " stepped closer to
the man after failing to hear any response, and repeated his
question. By the time that he stepped toward the man, that
individual turned around towards him and "open[ed]
fire" upon defendant. In light of the fact that he
feared for his life, defendant fired his weapon "[m]aybe
three to five times" in an attempt to defend himself.
After the man fell to the ground, defendant stood over him
for a brief period of time. Upon hearing gunfire, defendant
left the scene and went to the residence of his mother, where
he was apprehended later that morning.
January 2014, an arrest warrant charging defendant with
assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and
inflicting serious injury was issued. On 24 February 2014,
the Wake County grand jury returned a bill of indictment
charging defendant with assault with a deadly weapon with the
intent to kill and inflicting serious injury. The charge
against defendant came on for trial before the trial court
and a jury at the 20 April 2015 criminal session of the
Superior Court, Wake County.
jury instruction conference, defendant's trial counsel
requested the trial court to instruct the jury concerning the
law of self-defense and defense of another, among other
subjects. More specifically, defendant requested the
trial court to instruct the jury that:
The defendant would be excused of assault with a deadly
weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury on the
ground of self-defense if: First, it appeared to the
defendant and the defendant believed it to be necessary to
assault the victim in ...