in the Court of Appeals 9 April 2019.
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.
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.
and Procedural Background
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
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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 ...