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State v. Cozart

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

June 19, 2018


          Heard in the Court of Appeals 2 November 2017.

          Appeal by defendant from an order entered 8 September 2016 by Judge Paul C. Ridgeway in Wake County Superior Court Nos. 14CRS222806, 222866-67.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Sherri H. Lawrence, for the State.

          Paul F. Herzog for defendant-appellant.

          BERGER, JUDGE.

         On September 8, 2016, a Wake County jury found Brandon Marquis Cozart ("Defendant") guilty of three counts of statutory rape and two counts of indecent liberties with a child. Defendant appeals, contending the trial court failed to conduct a Grady hearing prior to imposing lifetime satellite-based monitoring ("SBM"), failed to substitute court appointed counsel upon his request, and he received ineffective assistance of counsel ("IAC"). We hold that Defendant failed to properly appeal the imposition of SBM. Further, we deny his petition for writ of certiorari, find no error regarding the trial court's inquiry concerning discharge of counsel, and dismiss his IAC claim without prejudice.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In 2014, Defendant, along with his fiancée and infant son, moved into the home of his friend, Montrail Alexander ("Alexander"). Fourteen year old Mary[1] lived across the street with her mother, siblings, and grandparents. Mary would frequently visit Alexander's house for sleepovers and family events because Mary's mother was close friends with Alexander. Mary regarded Alexander as a "big brother, " and had been visiting him for seven or eight years.

         Mary met Defendant at Alexander's house for the first time in February 2014. Mary and her siblings would visit Alexander's house three to four times a week, and sleep over every other weekend. Defendant made remarks to Mary and her younger sister about their appearance that made them uncomfortable, and, as a result, their visits to Alexander's house became less frequent.

         Mary testified that in March or mid-April of 2014, she decided to spend the night at Alexander's house with her two younger sisters and two step-brothers, despite feeling uneasy. That night, Alexander's family slept in their own bedroom, Defendant slept in his bedroom with his family, and the children all slept in the living room, with Mary on the couch. Mary heard Defendant go to the bathroom, and when he came out, he approached her, put his hand over her mouth, and told her to be quiet. Defendant forcibly undressed Mary and made her have unprotected vaginal intercourse with him. Mary testified there was blood in her underwear and she did not know what to do because she was scared. Mary returned to her home the next morning and did not tell anyone what happened.

         A few weeks later, Mary went over to Alexander's house again to see his newborn baby. Defendant was the only adult in the house. After she entered, Defendant forced Mary against the living room couch while she said "no" repeatedly. Defendant then made Mary go into the hallway where he forcibly removed her pants and underwear and engaged in sexual intercourse with her. Defendant stopped after Mary told him her stomach was hurting. When Alexander's girlfriend came home, Mary left. After this incident, Mary was bleeding heavily and had semen in her vagina. Mary did not tell her mother about the specific encounters because she was afraid her family would not believe her.

         Defendant moved out of Alexander's house in June 2014, and Mary had no further sexual encounters with him. In late June, Mary found out that she was pregnant after taking two pregnancy tests, and messaged Defendant on Facebook regarding the pregnancy.

         After reporting the incident to law enforcement, the Garner Police Department started an investigation. Investigators obtained DNA samples from Mary, Defendant, and Mary's child who was born in January 2015. DNA analysis showed there was a 99.9999 percent probability that Defendant was the father of Mary's child. On September 30, 2014, the Garner Police Department arrested Defendant for two counts of felony statutory rape of a person thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen years old.

         On September 25, 2014, prior to Defendant's arrest, Chelsea, a fifteen-year-old runaway, met Defendant on the street at Moore Square in downtown Raleigh. Defendant approached Chelsea and initiated a conversation. Defendant told her about his son's birthday party at a local hotel. Chelsea went with Defendant to the hotel, thinking that it would be a birthday party. Defendant initiated a sexual encounter with Chelsea. Chelsea testified that she did not want Defendant to ...

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