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State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

June 4, 2019

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
REGINALD LEE JONES, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 16 January 2019.

          Appeal by Defendant from judgment entered 22 March 2018 by Judge Ebern T. Watson III in Onslow County No. 14 CRS 54309-10 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Oliver G. Wheeler, IV, for the State.

          The Epstein Law Firm, PLLC, by Drew Nelson, for defendant-appellant.

          MURPHY, Judge.

         Defendant argues the trial court erred in three ways regarding his prosecution and conviction for discharging a weapon into an occupied dwelling, but fails to show that the trial court erred (1) in entering its judgment against him for that offense, (2) proceeding based on the State's indictment, or (3) in failing to dismiss the charge for insufficient evidence. We find no error in the trial court's decisions relating to these three issues.

         However, although not properly preserved for appeal, we invoke Rule 2 of our Rules of Appellate Procedure in order to prevent manifest injustice and vacate Defendant's conviction for assault by pointing a gun.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant, Reginald Lee Jones, was found guilty of (1) discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, (2) assault with a deadly weapon, and (3) assault by pointing a gun. In a separate judgment, Defendant was found guilty of fleeing to elude arrest, but does not appeal any issues related thereto. The charges stem from an incident where Defendant fired multiple gunshots in the direction of an individual and his house.

         On the evening of 6 July 2014, Defendant was seen slowly driving by and looking at a residence in Onslow County. Eventually, Defendant got out of his car and started yelling at an individual standing near the residence, "Teekay," and "calling out" the individuals inside the house, challenging them to come outside. The exchange escalated to the point where Defendant pulled out a handgun and fired two shots at Teekay. At least one of the two shots went into the exterior wall of the house, at which point the homeowner, Antonio Holley ("Holley"), went to the doorway and yelled that Defendant "ain't doing nothing" but firing shots into the air. Defendant responded by firing two shots at Holley, who was still standing in the doorway of his house, one of which hit him in the arm. Shortly thereafter, a second man inside the house returned fire in Defendant's direction, and Defendant drove away. Upon investigating the scene, police noted damage to Holley's house and the surrounding area.

         Defendant was indicted by a Grand Jury for (1) littering, (2) fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, (3) assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury, (4) assault by intentionally pointing a gun at a person without legal justification, and (5) discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling. At trial, the State abandoned the littering charge. The jury returned guilty verdicts on the charges of fleeing to elude arrest, assault with a deadly weapon, assault by pointing a gun, and discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, and the trial court entered judgment accordingly. Defendant timely appeals and presents four arguments for our consideration.

         ANALYSIS

         A. The Trial Court's Judgment

         Defendant first argues the trial court's judgment finding him guilty of Class D discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling is inconsistent with the jury verdict finding him guilty of ...


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