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State v. Webb

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

March 6, 2018

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
MAURICE JASON WEBB, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 13 November 2017.

         Appeal by Defendant from judgments entered 25 January 2017 by Judge Ebern T. Watson III in New Hanover County No. 15 CRS 60753 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Randolph, for the State.

          Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender Anne M. Gomez, for defendant-appellant.

          MURPHY, JUDGE.

         The issue underlying Maurice Jason Webb-Sholar's[1] (Defendant) arguments on appeal is whether the State put forth sufficient substantial evidence that he personally committed the crimes appealed herein. For the reasons that follow, we hold that this case is analogous to State v. Ethridge, 168 N.C.App. 359, 607 S.E.2d 325 (2005), and, thus, there was sufficient evidence that Defendant perpetrated the crimes to support a jury finding, of each essential element of the offense charged, and of Defendant being the perpetrator of each offense.

         Defendant argues that: (1) there was insufficient evidence that Defendant personally committed the offenses of felony breaking or entering, felony larceny, and misdemeanor injury to real property, and, thus, it was error for the trial court to deny Defendant's motion to dismiss; and (2) as a result of this error, the trial court plainly erred in its jury instructions on felonious larceny. We disagree, and analyze each argument in turn.

         Background

         During Fall 2015, Defendant introduced himself to Lasonia Melvin as "Jason Young." The two dated "casually" for about one month. Defendant visited her apartment several times throughout the relationship, which was located on the ground floor of an apartment complex in Wilmington.

         Defendant asked Melvin about her plans for Thanksgiving. Melvin told Defendant that she and her daughter were traveling out of town. When Defendant asked to accompany Melvin on this trip, she declined. Shortly thereafter, Melvin ended the relationship because Defendant was always asking for money, although Defendant told Melvin he had a job.

         The day before Thanksgiving, Melvin and her daughter left her apartment at approximately 5:00 p.m. for their trip out of town. Melvin locked the apartment door when she left, and asked a neighbor, Henrietta McKoy, to watch her apartment. McKoy lived across the parking lot from Melvin. Between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., McKoy saw a dark blue or black vehicle backed into the parking space where Melvin parks. At the time, McKoy thought the car belonged to Melvin. McKoy went outside a second time, approximately 30 minutes after first seeing the vehicle, and the vehicle was still parked in the same space.

         Around the same time, another neighbor, Matthew Lofty (Lofty), sat outside on his porch, directly above Melvin's apartment. Throughout the night, Lofty saw a four-door, dark blue Hyundai parked and backed into Melvin's parking spot, with the trunk facing Melvin's apartment. Lofty saw Defendant and another unidentified male near Melvin's apartment. Lofty observed Defendant twice that evening: first standing in the parking lot, and second, standing directly in front of Melvin's apartment door. Lofty also noted he saw the unidentified male in the area each time he looked down from the porch. Lofty told police that he saw the unidentified male and Defendant going in and out of the apartment.[2] Lofty also stated that, sometime during the night, he saw a flat screen television in the open trunk of the dark blue Hyundai.

         Heather Wilson (Wilson), who lived with Lofty, exchanged brief pleasantries with Defendant as she smoked on the upstairs porch. Wilson thought Defendant seemed nervous during this exchange. Wilson claimed the sunroof and trunk were open on the vehicle, and that she saw "stuff" in the trunk on at least one occasion.

         Over the course of roughly three hours, Lofty observed Defendant and the unidentified male went to and from Melvin's residence four to five times in the dark blue Hyundai. During one of these visits, as Lofty and Wilson watched, Defendant noticed he was being observed, appeared "startled, " slammed the trunk closed, entered the passenger side of the vehicle, and slowly pulled out of the parking lot. Both Lofty and Wilson heard a lot of noise throughout the night and would look outside, but could not identify its source.

         The next day Wilson and Lofty noticed the door to Melvin's apartment was open, and alerted McKoy, who called the police. When Officer Carly Tate of the Wilmington Police Department arrived on scene, she noticed Melvin's door frame was broken and appeared to have been pried open. Officer Tate entered the apartment and noticed several items were missing or had been "disturbed." Melvin later determined that three TVs (one of which was an older, 55-inch model), a sapphire diamond bracelet, a microwave, two laptops (including her work laptop), an Amazon Fire Stick, several DVDs, and $900 dollars in cash were missing. Melvin's insurance company valued her stolen items at approximately $4, ...


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