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State v. Dick

Supreme Court of North Carolina

December 8, 2017

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
QUENTON LEE DICK

          Heard in the Supreme Court on 10 October 2017.

         On discretionary review pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-31 of a unanimous, unpublished decision of the Court of Appeals, __ N.C.App. __, 791 S.E.2d 873 (2016), vacating defendant's conviction after appeal from a judgment entered on 18 June 2015 by Judge Susan E. Bray in Superior Court, Guilford County.

          Joshua H. Stein, Attorney General, by James M. Stanley, Jr., Special Deputy Attorney General, for the State-appellant.

          Mark Montgomery for defendant-appellee.

          MORGAN, Justice.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         In this appeal we consider whether a jury was properly instructed on the theory that Quenton Lee Dick (defendant) committed a first-degree sexual offense by being aided and abetted by another individual in the commission of the sexual act. The Court of Appeals concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to submit the instruction to the jury. We hold that, based upon our enunciated test used to establish the principle of aiding and abetting, the evidence was sufficient to allow the jury to be instructed on the theory of aiding and abetting.

         The State presented evidence at trial tending to show that at around 2:00 a.m. on 4 December 2013, E.M.[1] was studying in her apartment for an examination and conversing with three of her friends, all of whom were college students. Those in the apartment included E.M.'s roommate. They were all getting ready for bed when there was a knock at the door, and E.M.'s roommate answered it because she was expecting a guest. The person at the door asked for someone who did not live in the apartment.

         A short time later, there was another knock on the door and when the door was opened, a man wearing a bandanna on his face walked into the kitchen of the apartment, looked around, and walked back out. E.M. and her friends were under the impression that someone was playing a trick on them. E.M.'s roommate tried to push the door to close it, but four men prevented her from doing so by charging into the apartment. All of the men were wearing bandannas across their faces and hoods on their heads. At least two of the men had handguns. Three of the men headed to the back of the apartment and started to ransack it. The last man stayed in the living room with E.M. and the other students. E.M. and her friends were ordered to go into their rooms and bring back everything they had. The men took several items, including cell phones, laptop computers, and a television.

         Next, the four college students were ordered to sit back down on the couch in the living room. The intruders duct taped the students' hands behind their backs. The man in the living room ordered E.M. to get up from the couch and walk into one of the bedrooms in the back of the apartment. Three of the men were walking in the bedroom. E.M. attempted to step into the bathroom that was connected to the bedroom, but one of the men grabbed her and told her to go into the bedroom. E.M. started crying and begged the men not to rape her. One of the men replied, "Shut up, bitch. We're not going to rape you." In response, E.M. "kept crying and saying stuff." One of the men responded, "Well, I see we're going to have to . . . tape her mouth because she won't shut up." He then taped shut E.M.'s mouth. Another of the men left the room at that time in order to tape shut the other students' mouths.

         E.M. had been left in the bedroom with two of the intruders, one of whom was defendant. The two men took off E.M.'s pants, lifted her shirt and began touching her inappropriately. A third man stepped into the room and said something indicating "that maybe they ha[d] to go or they need[ed] to hurry up or something." All of the men then departed, leaving E.M. in the bedroom alone; however, defendant quickly returned to the room, ripped off the tape from E.M.'s mouth, and forced her to perform oral sex on him. E.M. could see a gun in defendant's pocket while performing the sexual act. During this time, E.M.'s shirt had been lifted and she was not wearing any underwear. E.M.'s hands were still duct taped behind her back. The sexual act lasted about thirty seconds. Defendant ejaculated on E.M.'s face and shirt. Subsequently, he ran out of the apartment.

         E.M. and her friends went to her neighbor's apartment and called the police. Law enforcement officers arrived and questioned the victims. They then took E.M. to a local hospital, where she completed a rape kit. Defendant's DNA profile was later determined to match the semen on E.M.'s shirt.

         On 3 February 2014, defendant was indicted on four counts of first-degree kidnapping, one count of first-degree burglary and four counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon. Defendant was also charged with conspiracy to commit robbery with a firearm, but that charge was subsequently dismissed by the State. On 2 June 2014, defendant was indicted on one count of first-degree sexual offense. After all of the evidence was presented at trial, defendant moved to dismiss all charges for insufficiency of the evidence. These motions were denied. A jury returned unanimous verdicts of guilty on all the charges. The four robbery with a firearm convictions and the four kidnapping convictions were consolidated for judgment, with defendant being sentenced to four consecutive terms of 83 to 112 months each followed by a term of 276 to 392 months on the sexual offense charge and another consecutive term of 73 to 100 months on the first-degree burglary conviction. Defendant gave written notice of appeal.

         At the Court of Appeals, defendant argued that the trial court erred by improperly instructing the jury on the first-degree sexual offense charge. The jury was given a disjunctive instruction at trial, allowing it to find defendant guilty of first-degree sexual offense if defendant "employed a dangerous and deadly weapon or was aided and abetted by another person or persons" when he committed the sexual act. In considering this issue and ultimately finding error by the trial court, the Court of Appeals reasoned that when a jury is given instructions at trial indicating that a defendant can be found guilty of a crime under two separate theories, there must be sufficient evidence to find such a defendant guilty under both theories. State v. Dick, __ N.C.App. __, 791 S.E.2d 873, 2016 WL 5746395 (2016) (unpublished). The Court of Appeals noted in the instant case that defendant did not dispute that there was sufficient evidence to properly allow the jury to consider whether he had employed a dangerous or deadly weapon in the commission of the sexual offense, Dick, 2016 WL 5746395, at *3; on the other hand, however, the Court of Appeals held that there was not sufficient evidence presented that defendant was aided or abetted by another individual during the act ...


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