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State v. Canady

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

September 3, 2019

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA,
v.
AMANDA KAY CANADY, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 9 April 2019.

          Appeal by defendant from judgments entered 28 March 2018 by Judge Douglas B. Sasser in Columbus County Nos. 14CRS050013, 14CRS000008-9 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by General Counsel W. Swain Wood, for the State.

          Michael E. Casterline for defendant-appellant.

          BERGER, JUDGE.

         On March 28, 2018, Amanda Kay Canady ("Defendant") was convicted of first degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and attempted first degree murder. Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted several crime scene photographs into evidence. Defendant claims the photographs were more prejudicial than probative, and argues that, but for this error, there is a reasonable possibility that a different result would have occurred at trial. We disagree, and find no error.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On December 31, 2013, Keshia Ward ("Ward") and her fiancé, Johnny Lee Tyler ("Tyler"), hosted a New Year's Eve cookout at their home. After the cookout and subsequent party had mostly concluded, in the early morning hours of January 1, 2014, a dispute arose over a cellular telephone. The cell phone was owned by Derrick Pierce ("Pierce") and had been left in Tyler's truck. Pierce, who was at the party with his associate Antwan Johnson ("Johnson"), had previously sold drugs to Tyler. Tyler initially claimed that he did not know where the cell phone was, but he eventually admitted that he had sold the phone.

         This confession led Johnson to grab Tyler and take him into the home. Pierce and Johnson began beating Tyler once inside, with Johnson holding Tyler while Pierce struck him in the face. Ward attempted to stop the beating of her fiancé, at which point Defendant entered the home. Pierce instructed Defendant to "get her ass, too."

         Defendant then grabbed a baseball bat and began to beat Ward, continuing her assault even as Ward fell to the floor. Defendant also swung the bat at Tyler, striking him in the head. After several minutes of continuous beating, Tyler and Ward were instructed to strip naked and perform sexual acts on one another. Throughout this time, Tyler and Ward's children were hiding in the back bedroom of the home. The eldest, Delanee Chavis ("Chavis"), heard male voices instruct Defendant to "go check on the kids." Chavis then saw Defendant open the bedroom door, enter the room holding a wooden leg of a barstool in her hand, look around, and then exit the room closing the door behind her.

         The noise from the beatings eventually stopped, and Tyler heard someone say, "They're dead. Come on, let's go." Chavis heard someone say, "If y'all tell anybody, I'll kill y'all." Chavis awoke later that morning to find Tyler naked, badly injured, and asking for help. Chavis also saw Ward, her mother, naked and lying on the floor, covered with a blanket. Tyler spent nearly three weeks in the hospital recovering from his severe injuries. Ward died as a result of the injuries she had sustained during the beating.

         Deputies from the Columbus County Sheriff's Department responded to the house the next day after Chavis had called family members seeking help. Deputy Joseph Graham ("Deputy Graham") found Tyler in the living room and Ward in a bedroom near the front of the house. Deputy Graham observed blood on the walls, floor, furniture, and throughout the house. The Chief Medical Examiner for the State of North Carolina determined that Ward's death was the result of blunt trauma injuries to the head, chest, abdomen and extremities.

         That same day, Johnson showed one of his associates, Antonio Murdock ("Murdock"), a video of the assault that he had recorded with his cell phone. In the fifteen second video, Defendant, who was known to Murdock and recognized by him, was sitting on top of another woman and swinging something at her head.

         In January 2017, Johnson pleaded guilty to second degree murder and attempted first degree murder, and he agreed to testify at Defendant's trial on behalf of the ...


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