in the Court of Appeals 8 August 2017.
by defendant from judgment entered 9 May 2016 by Judge A.
Graham Shirley in Wake County Superior Court No. 14 CRS
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Elizabeth N. Strickland, for the State.
Montgomery for the defendant-appellant.
an expert witness's testimony did not constitute improper
vouching, the trial court did not err in admitting the
testimony. Furthermore, defendant did not receive ineffective
assistance of counsel where defendant's trial counsel
failed to object to testimony that was admissible.
minor victim in this case, originally lived with his mother,
father, sister Nancy,  and other siblings in New York. When the
family split up, Perry, Nancy, and two other siblings moved
to North Carolina to live with their aunt, cousins, and
grandmother. After a while, his mother came to North Carolina
and Perry and his siblings moved in with her.
Perry was thirteen years old, his mother brought defendant
Timothy Neal Prince into their home in Raleigh. According to
Perry, defendant and his mother were in a relationship for
about six months. At first, Perry thought defendant was
"cool, " but after a few days, defendant got upset
and punched Perry's mother in the stomach and then
punched Perry in the face. The next night, defendant got
upset again and hit Perry's mother and threw a night
stand at her. Perry was hit by the night stand when he tried
to grab it. Perry was beaten by defendant on several other
occasions, at least three times while trying to defend his
occasion, defendant took Perry and his family to a cookout
party. Defendant was drinking. At some point during the
party, defendant asked Perry and defendant's niece to
come outside. Defendant told Perry to hit his niece, which
Perry refused to do. Defendant then told his niece to hit
Perry, which she did. Then, defendant punched Perry in the
face. Perry began crying and told a relative that defendant
"remind[ed] [him] of [his] father." When defendant
heard what Perry had said (Perry's father was abusive),
defendant became angry and told Perry, Perry's mother,
and Nancy to get in his truck.
point on the way home, defendant stopped at a highway exit
and told Perry to get out of the truck. Defendant pulled
Perry out of the truck and hit him with a bat several times.
Perry took off running, and defendant tried to run Perry down
with his truck. Eventually, defendant cornered Perry between
the woods and the truck and said, "if you don't come
out, I will hit you with this bat." Perry's mother
was able to convince Perry to walk back and get in the truck.
As they got close to home, defendant stopped the truck again,
got out of the truck, and hit Perry with the bat. Then,
defendant took a metal flashlight and hit Perry three times
on the head. The third blow split Perry's "head
open, " and Perry had to wrap his head in his
mother's shirt to avoid getting blood in defendant's
home, defendant told Perry, "I am going to shoot you
through the head if this gets out[, ]" presumably
referring to the abuse he inflicted on Perry. Defendant also
told Perry, "if anyone asks you, just say you fell off
the bed, the bunk bed." At trial, Nancy testified that
"we all lied. We lied to survive."
next day, Perry's head was still bleeding and aching, and
he was limping because of a hurt knee. When later asked why
he had not told anyone at school, Perry said, "[b]ecause
he, the defendant, had previously been to school and he said
no matter where [he] was, if [Perry] told anyone about this,
it didn't matter where [he] was, [defendant] would come
and find [him] and do it again." Later, when Perry's
mother took Perry to the emergency room, defendant was also
present either in the treatment room or just outside the
door, so Perry was afraid to tell the truth about how his
injuries were sustained. Due to the injuries, staples were
put in his head and his knee. Perry also had a cast put on
his arm for a fracture to the elbow area, which was on for
six weeks, followed by another cast.
mother also testified about a choking incident involving
defendant and Perry. The mother did not observe the incident,
but heard Perry cry out. According to Perry, defendant
wrapped his arm around Perry's neck and choked him, such
that Perry was unable to "really breathe" and he
was "gasping for air." There was no injury
Perry's mother could easily see, but the next morning
Perry's eyes looked funny-the blood vessels in his eye
were "popped open and bleeding"-so the mother took
Perry to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a form of
Perry's maternal aunt came over to the house shortly
after Perry's ER visit where his arm was put in a cast,
she continued to ask what happened until Perry finally told
her that defendant had hit him with a bat. After consulting
with family members, Perry's aunt called Child Protective
Services ("CPS") that evening.
when a social worker came to the home, Perry's mother and
sisters denied that anything had happened; defendant was
present in the room during the social worker's visit.
Eventually, however, Nancy told one social worker about what
happened because she "couldn't deal with it anymore
and [she] didn't want to see nobody hurt." Shortly
thereafter, Perry and his siblings were removed from the
home. At the time of trial, Perry was residing in a
controlled facility in South Carolina receiving treatment
for, several conditions, including PTSD and depression.
January 2014, an arrest warrant was issued for defendant for
the offenses of (1) feloniously and intentionally inflicting
serious bodily injury (broken arm and head and leg
lacerations) on a child (Perry) who was under sixteen years
old; and (2) unlawfully and willfully and feloniously
assaulting the child and inflicting personal injury (causing
subconjunctival hemorrhages by strangulation by placing an
arm around Perry's neck and squeezing), in violation of
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-318.4(a3) and 14-32.4(B). On 27
October 2014, an indictment was returned against defendant