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State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

June 19, 2018

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA,
v.
EDWARD EARL JONES, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 23 August 2017.

          Appeal by defendant from judgment entered on or about 1 August 2016 by Judge Ola M. Lewis in Superior Court, Brunswick County, No. 15 CRS 055648

          Attorney General Joshua H Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Jeremy D. Lindsley, for the State.

          New Hanover County Public Defender Jennifer Harjo, by Assistant Public Defender Brendan O'Donnell, for defendant.

          STROUD, JUDGE.

         Defendant Edward Earl Jones ("defendant") appeals from his conviction of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. On appeal, defendant contends that he was denied his fundamental right to effective assistance of counsel and contends that his defense counsel failed to argue self-defense on his behalf. But the record indicates that counsel did stipulate to the State's admission of evidence of self-defense and argued self-defense in the closing argument. We therefore hold that defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel and find no error with the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         On 15 November 2015, Brunswick County 911 operators received three phone calls from a male, later identified as defendant, who stated that he had stabbed his wife, she was bleeding badly, and he had left their home in Southport, North Carolina. Defendant's wife, Mary, [1] also called 911 and reported that she had been stabbed in her chest and arm by her husband. Mary told the 911 operator that defendant had left their home and may be driving a black Chrysler 200 vehicle. An officer received a radio call describing the vehicle and realized that he had just passed a vehicle fitting that description, so he turned around and stopped the vehicle. Defendant, the driver of the vehicle, put his hands up and told the officer he was on his way to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office to turn himself in after stabbing his wife during an argument that morning.

         Defendant was arrested and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. He voluntarily submitted to an interview with police. Defendant explained his version of events during that interview with police, stating that just prior to the incident, he received a call from his daughter claiming that Mary had just told her not bring her daughter -- defendant's granddaughter -- to the house that day for defendant to watch because he was going to be arrested. Defendant said that when he confronted Mary in the bedroom about the phone call, she threatened him and produced a kitchen knife, so he removed his pocketknife from his pocket and stabbed Mary at least once to get her to drop the knife.

         Defendant was indicted on or about 7 December 2015. Defendant waived his right to a jury trial, and the matter proceeded to a bench trial on 28 and 29 July 2016 and concluded on 1 August 2016. Mary testified at defendant's trial that defendant entered the bedroom and said " 'Bitch, . . . I'm going to kill you. You turned against me for everybody else.' " He stabbed her with the kitchen knife, said " 'You're going to die[, ]' " and then stabbed her again with his pocketknife. She could not remember the third stabbing, but afterward he stabbed her in the chest, she started hollering " 'I'm dying.' " The trial court found defendant guilty as charged and entered a judgment on or about 1 August 2016. Defendant timely filed notice of appeal to this Court.

         Defendant's MAR

         Defendant contemporaneously filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief ("MAR") with his direct appeal. Defendant's MAR includes an attachment of an affidavit from his trial attorney. We would only consider granting defendant's MAR if we could not address his claims on the face of the record on direct appeal; and if that were the case, we would have to remand the matter to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing. See, e.g., State v. Fair, 354 N.C. 131, 166, 557 S.E.2d 500, 524-25 (2001) ("IAC claims brought on direct review will be decided on the merits when the cold record reveals that no further investigation is required, i.e., claims that may be developed and argued without such ancillary procedures as the appointment of investigators or an evidentiary hearing. This rule is consistent with the general principle that, on direct appeal, the reviewing court ordinarily limits its review to material included in the record on appeal and the verbatim transcript of proceedings, if one is designated." (Citations and quotation marks omitted)). Because we can resolve this issue on direct appeal, remanding for a hearing on defendant's MAR is unnecessary. We deny defendant's MAR.

         Direct Appeal: IAC Claim

         Defendant's sole argument on appeal is that he was denied his fundamental right to effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel "inexplicably" failed ...


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