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State v. Wilkes

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

November 7, 2017

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
JERMAINE WILKES

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 21 August 2017.

         Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 15 August 2016 by Judge Robert T. Sumner in Catawba County Superior Court Nos. 12 CRS 53973-74.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Special Deputy Attorney General Daniel P. O'Brien, for the State.

          Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender Kathryn L. VandenBerg, for defendant.

          DIETZ, JUDGE.

         This case began when law enforcement discovered an abandoned, burned car with a woman's body inside. Officers arrested Defendant Jermaine Wilkes and, during questioning after his arrest, Wilkes implicated himself in the woman's murder.

         Wilkes later moved to suppress those incriminating statements on the ground that law enforcement lacked probable cause to arrest him. The trial court denied the motion to suppress and Wilkes challenges that denial on appeal.

         As explained below, we reject Wilkes's arguments. At the time law enforcement arrested Wilkes, they had already visited the victim's home and found a knife on a chair near a window with a cut screen. Later, when officers questioned the victim's boyfriend, he admitted that he was with Wilkes at the victim's home on the night of the murder and that, after the victim locked the two men out of her house, the boyfriend cut the screen, entered the house through the window, unlocked the front door from the inside, and let Wilkes back in.

         These facts and circumstances constituted sufficient, reasonably trustworthy information from which a reasonable officer could believe that Wilkes had committed a breaking and entering. Thus, regardless of whether the officers had probable cause to arrest Wilkes for murder, we agree with the trial court that the officers had probable cause to arrest Wilkes for that lesser crime. Accordingly, we reject Wilkes's arguments and affirm the trial court's judgments.

         Facts and Procedural History

         Jermaine Wilkes is the cousin of Antoine Reid. On the evening of 6 June 2012, Wilkes and Reid arrived at the home of the victim, Brianne Ginty, to have drinks and to play cards. Reid was Ms. Ginty's boyfriend.

         Ms. Ginty and Reid argued throughout the evening and, after one argument, Reid and Wilkes left the house. Once outside, Reid tried to go back in but discovered that Ms. Ginty had locked the door behind them. Reid used a knife and a chair located on the porch to cut out a window screen and pry open a window on the side of the house. He then climbed through the window and opened the front door so Wilkes could enter as well.

         Once he was back inside, Reid continued to argue with Ms. Ginty until he finally decided to walk home, leaving Wilkes behind. Wilkes and Ms. Ginty then followed Reid home in Ms. Ginty's car, offering to give Reid a ride home. Reid initially agreed, but when he and Ms. Ginty continued to argue, Reid decided to resume his walk home instead.

         Reid got out of the car sometime between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. and claims that this was the last time he saw Ms. Ginty alive. Reid's mother ...


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