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State v. Hines

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 1, 2018

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
DAVID HINES, JR.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 3 April 2018.

          Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 16 March 2017 by Judge W. Douglas Parsons in Johnston County Nos. 16CRS052218-19 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General William H. Harkins, Jr., for the State.

          William D. Spence for defendant-appellant.

          BRYANT, Judge.

         Where defendant's admitted that he was the driver of the vehicle, and the State presented sufficient independent corroborating evidence that defendant was the driver of the vehicle, the corpus delicti rule is satisfied and the State did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss the charges against him. We find no error in the judgments of the trial court.

         Around 10:00 p.m. on 9 April 2016, volunteer firefighter Brent Driver ("Brent") was off duty when he saw an unknown female standing in the middle of the road waving her arms back and forth on Princeton Kenly Road in Johnston County. Brent stopped, and the woman told him that a wreck had occurred, and that she had already called 911. Brent's passenger, another firefighter, went and checked the car-a white Rodeo SUV which was nose-down in a ditch on the side of the road-"to see if there was [sic] any fluids leaking from the vehicle, gas or anything like that." Brent then observed defendant David Hines, Jr., leaning against the back of the white Rodeo. Brent testified that defendant "smelled [of a] real high odor of alcohol and couldn't maintain his balance or anything." Brent asked defendant to come and sit in the back of Brent's truck "so [defendant] didn't fall and hurt himself."

         Brent noted that defendant was wearing only one white shoe. An identical white shoe was found in the driver's side floorboard of the white Rodeo. Brent also observed a cut on defendant's forehead.

         Trooper Chris Bell with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to the scene of the accident. He first spoke with Brent, who told him that the driver of the white Rodeo-defendant-was sitting in the tailgate of his truck. As Trooper Bell approached defendant, he noticed that defendant had "a distinct sway, " "bloodshot" and "glassy eyes, " and he also "[d]etected a very strong odor of alcohol."

         Trooper Bell asked defendant for his driver's license, and defendant responded that he did not have one. Instead, he provided Trooper Bell with an ID card containing defendant's picture, name, and date of birth. When Trooper Bell asked about the accident, defendant told him he was not familiar with the area, he was the only person present in the vehicle at the time of the accident, and that he "hit the ditch" when he ran a stop sign driving approximately sixty miles per hour.

         Trooper Bell then asked defendant to fill out a standard witness statement form, which he handed to defendant as he sat on the tailgate of Brent's truck. Trooper Bell stepped away to call a tow truck, and when he returned to retrieve the witness statement from defendant about ten to fifteen minutes later, he discovered defendant "laying in the bed of the truck, passed out."

         Trooper Bell retrieved the witness statement form, noting that defendant had only signed and dated the form without providing a statement. Based on the information given him by defendant, Trooper Bell proceeded to fill out the witness statement in his own handwriting.

         At some point, Trooper Bell asked defendant to submit to a portable breath test, and defendant refused. Defendant was then arrested for driving while impaired ("DWI"), handcuffed, placed in the front passenger seat of Trooper Bell's patrol car, and driven to the Johnston County courthouse's Intoximeter room. Once there, defendant was read his rights but refused to provide "any kind of sample" for analysis and also refused standardized field sobriety testing later at the jail. Trooper Bell obtained a warrant for defendant's blood sample, and defendant was transported to Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield. Defendant's blood was drawn, and the sample was submitted to the State crime lab for analysis.

         On 9 April 2016, defendant was charged with DWI, driving while license revoked ("DWLR"), and careless and reckless driving. The case was called for trial before the Honorable W. Douglas Parsons, Judge presiding, during the 13 March 2017 Criminal Session of Johnston County Superior Court. The trial court denied ...


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