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State v. Solomon

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 1, 2018

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
QUINCY JEROME SOLOMON, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 5 October 2017.

          Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 18 October 2016 by Judge Eric L. Levinson in Davidson County Superior Nos. 14CRS052802, 052862 Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General John W. Congleton, for the State.

          Glover & Petersen, P.A., by James R. Glover, for defendant-appellant.

          BERGER, Judge.

         On October 18, 2016, a Davidson County jury found Quincy Jerome Solomon ("Defendant") guilty of second degree murder and fleeing to elude arrest. Defendant appeals contending the trial court erred by excluding testimony regarding Defendant's purported diagnosed mental disorders. We disagree.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On the night of May 28, 2014, Defendant transported a group of his friends in his Mitsubishi Eclipse from Thomasville, North Carolina to a friend's home in High Point, North Carolina. Defendant was never issued a driver's license, and his privilege to drive was suspended in October 2013 due to a conviction for driving by a person less than twenty-one years old after consuming alcohol or drugs. Defendant's vehicle had no insurance, registration, or license plate.

         After staying in Thomasville for approximately one hour, Defendant attempted to return to High Point with Keith Sheffield ("the victim") sitting in the front-passenger seat and Justin Walker ("Justin") sitting on the rear floor as there were no seats in the back of Defendant's vehicle. At that time, the Thomasville Police Department had established a license check station on National Highway. Around 1:00 a.m. on May 29, 2014, Sergeant Jason Annas observed Defendant's vehicle travel towards the license check station, crest over a hill, and make an illegal U-turn. Defendant traveled away from the license check station at a high rate of speed with a rear taillight out.

         Officer Dustin Gallimore activated the lights and siren on his marked patrol car and pursued Defendant's vehicle heading northeast on National Highway. Officer Gallimore's patrol car reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour in a forty-five mile-per-hour zone in his effort to apprehend Defendant. During the seven-mile pursuit, Defendant: (1) drove his vehicle between fifteen and fifty-five miles per hour over the speed limit while driving through multiple residential areas where he passed both pedestrians and vehicles parked on narrow streets; (2) drove into a private driveway, turned around, and then drove towards the oncoming officer's patrol car while revving his engine; (3) drove left of the center lane and straddled the middle double yellow lines; (4) lost control of his vehicle on a curve in the road and went off of the road; (5) traveled at speeds of seventy to eighty miles per hour; (6) avoided stop sticks deployed by law enforcement; and (7) failed to stop at five stop signs during the pursuit. Defendant ultimately lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a ravine.

         Officers arrived on scene shortly thereafter to find the vehicle upside down in the ravine, Justin standing behind the vehicle with a laceration to his arm, and Defendant on the ground holding the victim's head in his hands. Defendant told officers on scene, "This is all my fault. They were telling me to slow down and stop. I did not. I was driving. These other guys did not have anything to do with this. They were telling me to slow down and stop." The victim died on May 31, 2014 from injuries sustained in the crash.

         On June 2, 2014, Defendant was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for second degree murder, speeding to elude arrest, and attempted assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer. The charge of attempted assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer was dismissed.

         At trial, Defendant attempted to testify to his cognitive impairments and behavioral problems on direct examination. The State objected to Defendant's testimony, arguing that Defendant had failed to provide notice of an insanity or diminished capacity defense, and he had failed to provide an expert witness or medical documentation for any of the purported conditions. On voir dire, Defendant testified that he suffered from several mental disorder including Attention Deficit Disorder ("ADD"), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD"), Pediatric Bipolar Disorder ("PBD"), and Oppositional Defiant Disorder ("ODD"). Defendant's counsel stated they were not offering the testimony as a defense, but instead "offering it so the jury would be aware of [Defendant's] condition and state of mind."

         The trial court determined that lay testimony from Defendant regarding his various purported mental disorders would not be allowed because it was not relevant pursuant to Rule 401 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence. However, the trial court did allow Defendant to testify to his general behavioral issues and academic performance.

         On October 18, 2016, the jury found Defendant guilty of second degree murder and fleeing to elude arrest. Defendant was sentenced to 162 to 207 months in prison for the second degree murder offense, and the trial court arrested judgment on the fleeing to elude arrest offense. Defendant gave notice of appeal in open court upon entry of final judgment.

         Analysis

         Defendant contends on appeal that the trial court erred by excluding Defendant's testimony concerning his purported medical diagnoses as irrelevant under ...


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