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State v. McDougall

Supreme Court of North Carolina
Apr 1, 1983
308 N.C. 1 (N.C. 1983)

Summary

In McDougall, the court was attempting to establish uniformity in sentencing based on North Carolina's applicable statute. It was not setting forth a federal constitutional standard.

Summary of this case from McDougall v. Dixon

Opinion

No. 86A81

Filed 5 April 1983

1. Criminal Law 55 — blood analysis — testimony by expert The trial court properly permitted testimony by an expert who analyzed during trial a blood sample taken from defendant shortly after his arrest some nine months earlier that an initial screening test showed a positive reaction for the presence of cocaine but that a more sophisticated analysis indicated that there were no signs of cocaine or its metabolites in the blood where the blood sample was not willfully concealed in bad faith by the district attorney but was simply overlooked until it was inadvertently discovered during the trial; defendant was permitted to select an expert for the purpose of analyzing the blood sample; and the witness was qualified to perform the tests in question, they were performed in accordance with scientifically approved procedures, and the procedures used were scientifically reliable.

2. Constitutional Law 58; Criminal Law 126 — right to unanimous jury verdict — felony murder — use of disjunctive for underlying felonies Defendant was not denied his right to a unanimous verdict in a felony murder prosecution by the trial court's submission of the underlying felonies of kidnapping and attempted rape in the disjunctive where it is obvious, when the charge is read as a whole, that the court conveyed to the jury that its verdict must be unanimous as to each element of the offenses which were submitted to it.

3. Homicide 21.6 — first degree murder — perpetration of rape and kidnapping — sufficiency of evidence The State's evidence was sufficient to support conviction of defendant of first degree murder on the theory that the murder was committed in the perpetration of a rape and on the theory that it was committed in the perpetration of a kidnapping where it tended to show that defendant removed the victim from her home at knifepoint and dragged her to an automobile in the driveway; defendant stated that he intended to put the victim and her roommate in the trunk of the car and drive them to some undisclosed place; when the roommate threw the car keys to the ground, defendant threw her to the ground and began stabbing her; defendant prevented the victim from escaping from his control by catching her as she began to run across the yard; after he caught the victim, defendant stabbed her until she bled to death; the victim was found on her back with her legs spread wide, her feet nearly up to her buttocks, knees raised and apart, and her nightgown drawn up to her upper chest, exposing her left breast; many of the wounds were inflicted upon the victim while she was in a supine position; an examination of the victim's nightgown indicated that it had been pulled up before some of the stab wounds were inflicted; and when defendant crawled out of the bushes near the victim's body, he had blood smeared upon his shirt and pants consistent with the blood type of the victim.

4. Criminal Law 135.4 — first degree murder — sentencing hearing — prior felony as aggravating factor — proof of use of threat or violence In order for a felony involving the use or threat of violence to be used as an aggravating factor pursuant to G.S. 15A-2000 (e)(3) in imposing a sentence for first degree murder, the use or threat of violence to the person need not be an element of the offense. Furthermore, the involvement of the use of threat or violence to the person in the commission of the prior felony may be proven or rebutted by the testimony of witnesses notwithstanding defendant's stipulation of the record of conviction.

5. Criminal Law 135.4 — first degree murder — sentencing hearing — failure to include mitigating circumstances on verdict form While it would be the better practice for the trial court to include on the verdict form all mitigating circumstances which are to be submitted to the jury, the trial court did not err in listing only the statutory mitigating circumstances on the verdict form and failing to list thereon the additional mitigating circumstances submitted to the jury where defendant failed to request that the mitigating circumstances be listed on the written verdict form.

6. Criminal Law 135.4 — first degree murder — sentencing hearing — instruction on mitigating circumstances The trial court's instruction that "[t]he law in North Carolina specifies the mitigating circumstances which might be considered by you, and only those circumstances created by statute . . . may be considered by you" was not erroneous when the phrase "only those circumstances created by statute" is interpreted to include "any other circumstances arising from the evidence which the jury deems to have mitigating value" pursuant to G.S. 15A-2000(f)(9). Moreover, such instruction was not erroneous when considered with the court's submission of ten mitigating circumstances under G.S. 15A-2000(f)(9) and the court's repeated instructions that the jury could find any mitigating circumstance supported by the evidence.

7. Criminal Law 135.4 — first degree murder — sentencing hearing — instruction on duty to recommend death penalty The trial court did not err in instructing the jury that it had a duty to recommend a sentence of execution if it found (1) one or more aggravating circumstances existed, (2) that mitigating circumstances found by it were insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances and (3) that the aggravating circumstances were sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty.

8. Criminal Law 135.4 — first degree murder — sentencing hearing — form and instructions on fourth issue The form of and instructions on the fourth issue submitted to the jury as to whether the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstance or circumstances it found was or were sufficiently substantial to call for the death penalty were not erroneous where the jury was adequately instructed that before recommending the death sentence it must be satisfied that the sentence was justified and appropriate upon considering the totality of the aggravating circumstances with the totality of the mitigating circumstances found by it. G.S. 15A-2000.

9. Criminal Law 135.4 — first degree murder — sentencing hearing — order and form of issues The order and form of the issues to be submitted to the jury in a sentencing hearing in a capital case should be substantially as follows: (1) Do you find from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of one or more of the following aggravating circumstances? (2) Do you find from the evidence the existence of one or more of the following mitigating circumstances? (3) Do you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigating circumstance or circumstances you have found is, or are, insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances you have found? (4) Do you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstance or circumstances found by you is, or are, sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty when considered with the mitigating circumstance or circumstances found by you?

10. Criminal Law 135.4 — death sentence — excessive or disproportionate to penalty in similar cases — pool of cases to be used The pool of cases to be used in determining whether a sentence of death is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases is to be composed of all capital cases tried after the effective date of our capital punishment statute, 1 June 1977, in which there were convictions of murder in the first degree, regardless of the sentences imposed, and which have been reviewed on appeal by the N.C. Supreme Court.

11. Criminal Law 135.4 — death penalty not disproportionate A sentence of death imposed upon defendant for a first degree murder committed in the perpetration of a rape and kidnapping was not disproportionate when compared with the pool of similar cases.

APPEAL by defendant from judgments entered by Ferrell, J., at the 9 June 1980 Session of Superior Court, MECKLENBURG County.

Rufus L. Edmisten, Attorney General, by Joan H. Byers, Assistant Attorney General, for the State.

Chambers, Ferguson, Watt, Wallas, Adkins Fuller, by James C. Fuller, Jr., for defendant.


Justice FRYE took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Justice EXUM dissenting as to sentence.


Defendant was convicted by a jury of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, kidnapping, and murder in the first degree. For his conviction of murder in the first degree, defendant was sentenced to death. He was also sentenced to consecutive prison terms of twenty years on the conviction of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and life imprisonment on the charge of kidnapping. Defendant appeals to this Court as a matter of right from judgments entered with respect to his convictions of murder in the first degree and kidnapping. Defendant's motion to bypass the Court of Appeals for review of the judgment entered with respect to his conviction of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury was allowed by this Court 5 March 1982.


I.

Evidence for the state tended to show that at approximately 2:30 a.m. on the morning of 21 August 1979, Officer W. K. Crisler saw a flatbed truck at the intersection of Fairview Road and Sardis Road in the city of Charlotte. The flatbed truck was stopped at a traffic light and was headed away from Charlotte. The police car also was stopped at the intersection, headed in the opposite direction. Because in the mind of the officer it was unusual for such a truck to be driven at that time of night, he observed the truck closely. It was being operated in a normal manner. As the two vehicles passed each other, the officer had ample opportunity to observe the driver of the truck and later identified him as the defendant, Michael McDougall.

The intersection where Officer Crisler observed McDougall was located some one and one-half to two miles from 1420 Blueberry Lane in the city of Charlotte. Vicki Dunno and Diane Parker lived together in a house at 1420 Blueberry Lane. Approximately fifteen minutes after Officer Crisler had observed the flatbed truck, Vicki and Diane were wakened by the ringing of their front doorbell. They went to the front door and heard a male begging to be admitted into the house. This person stated that his wife had cut her leg "real bad," that he needed alcohol and bandages for her, and that he needed to call a doctor. He continued to beg for help. Diane went to the bathroom and got alcohol and bandages which she put outside the back door. She then came back to the front of the house. When the person began calling Diane by name, saying that he needed to talk to her, that he needed help, that his wife was hurt, Diane answered for the first time. He said that he was her neighbor Mike, that his wife was hurt "real badly," and that he needed help. After he continued pleading and begging to get into the house, Diane Parker finally opened the door and let him in. The person was Michael McDougall.

The three persons went into the kitchen where Vicki Dunno got the telephone directory off the refrigerator for the purpose of calling a doctor. While Vicki was looking up a number, the defendant walked from the kitchen into the den and began to "check out the house." Diane then took the telephone book from Vicki and started to dial for help. McDougall came back from the den into the kitchen, walked over behind Diane to the corner where there was a cutting board, and picked up a butcher knife. Vicki told Diane to look out, that McDougall had a knife. Defendant grabbed Diane by the arm, put the knife up in front of her face, and told her to put down the phone. Diane tried to get away from him and in the struggle the two knocked over one of the kitchen stools and the phone was knocked out of Diane's hand. They fell to the floor. Diane told Vicki to go next door and get help. Vicki ran out the front door. When she got to the grass, it was wet and she slipped, fell to her hands and knees, and her glasses flew off. She was searching in the grass for her glasses when the defendant came running out of the house, grabbed her by the arm, and told her that she wasn't going anywhere. Diane then came out of the house and was standing in the driveway. She had a knife in her hand and told McDougall that if he hurt Vicki she would kill him. McDougall realized that Diane had a knife. He let go of Vicki, then went over and started struggling with Diane and got her down in the grassy area beside the bushes. Vicki screamed and pleaded with Diane not to fight because she knew that McDougall had a knife. Vicki heard one of the knives thrown down the driveway. Diane then stopped struggling and McDougall grabbed her and Vicki by the back of the hair and dragged both of them back into the house. When the three got back into the house, Diane was bleeding from her forehead and nose. McDougall was a big man, weighing about two hundred and twenty pounds and standing six feet two inches tall. Vicki was twenty-five years old, five feet ten inches tall, and weighed one hundred and thirty pounds. Diane was twenty-seven years old, five feet two inches tall, and weighed one hundred and twenty-five pounds.

McDougall demanded that Vicki get her car keys. They went to her bedroom; Vicki got the keys and gave them to him. He was still holding Diane and took the two women back outside to the car. He gave the keys to Vicki and asked her which key was the trunk key. He said that he was going to put the women into the trunk until he got where he was going and he would then let them out. Diane told Vicki not to give him the keys, and Vicki threw them away. McDougall was very angry and threw Vicki to the ground and started stabbing her. She screamed to Diane, and Diane ran in the direction of a neighbor's house. McDougall left Vicki and ran after Diane and caught her. Vicki, in the meantime, got up and went into the house where she closed and locked the front door and went into the kitchen to call for help on the telephone. She dialed the emergency number, 911, and reported the incidents. Lynda McDougall, the wife of the defendant, then telephoned and asked Vicki what was happening. Vicki told her that she had been stabbed and that her roommate was outside with the assailant.

When the police arrived they found Diane Parker's body sprawled in front of 1400 Blueberry Lane, Michael McDougall's home. Vicki Dunno gave a description of the defendant to the officers and told them what had happened. An ambulance arrived and Vicki Dunno was taken to the hospital, where she remained in intensive care for some time. Her condition required surgery, and she has been left with permanent scarring as a result of being stabbed some nine times.

Diane Parker's body was clothed only with a nightgown, which had been pulled up to her chest, exposing her pubic area and one breast. Her knees were pulled up and her legs parted wide. Her genitalia appeared to have some liquid upon it. Diane had been stabbed some twenty-two times. She also had other contusions about her body. Any one of several of the stab wounds could have caused her death. At least two of the stab wounds entered her heart. Most of the wounds had been inflicted while she was in a prone position. She had cuts across the palm of her hand which a doctor who testified characterized as defensive type wounds. She had lost approximately half of the volume of her blood. Several of the wounds were from four to six inches deep. The medical examiner testified that in his opinion the butcher knife which was found at the scene of the crime and which was offered into evidence could have caused the wounds to Diane Parker.

The officers brought in searchlights to aid in the investigation, and once these lights were operating the defendant came out from behind some bushes, saying "I give up. Okay, I give up." There was blood smeared on his person, shirt, and pants. A blood analysis later showed that the blood on McDougall matched Diane Parker's blood type.

For two weeks during trial the defendant put on extensive evidence indicating that he suffered from a cocaine induced psychosis, as well as underlying depression and organic brain damage. This evidence showed that he had suffered severe and traumatic experiences as a child. For example, his grandfather committed suicide in his presence. Defendant's evidence indicated that he had injected nearly five grams of cocaine before he came to the Dunno residence. On the night of the arrest a sample of defendant's blood was taken; however, this blood was not analyzed until some nine or ten months after it had been obtained. Evidently the blood sample had become misplaced or overlooked and no one knew of its existence until some envelopes were being opened during the process of the trial. On defendant's motion the blood was sent to an expert selected by the defendant for the purpose of analysis, and upon an initial basic screening test, the analysis showed that the blood contained a residue of cocaine. However, upon a more sophisticated analysis of the blood the results indicated that there were no signs of cocaine or its metabolites in the blood.

Defendant for some time suffered from amnesia concerning the events in question but eventually was able to provide his psychiatrist with sufficient information for the psychiatrist to testify that at the time defendant was stabbing Vicki Dunno and Diane Parker, he thought that he was fighting and stabbing his mother who was beating him with an automobile antenna. The defendant did not testify at trial.

Other evidence relevant to the decision will be discussed below.

II. GUILT OR INNOCENCE PHASE

The first issue in defendant's brief refers to the alleged denial of his constitutional rights by the trial judge's denial of his motion to continue the trial. Defendant's counsel at oral argument before this Court expressly waived this issue, stating that the issue was not one of substance and therefore was being waived.

A.

Defendant contends next that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence of the expert who analyzed defendant's blood for the purpose of determining whether it contained a residue of cocaine. This blood sample had been taken from the defendant shortly after he was arrested; however, it was not analyzed until during the trial, some nine to ten months after it had been obtained. There is no evidence to indicate, and indeed no contention is made by defendant, that the evidence was willfully concealed in bad faith by the district attorney. All of the evidence indicates that the blood sample was simply overlooked until it was inadvertently discovered during the trial upon the opening of some of the evidence envelopes. On defendant's motion he was allowed to select an expert for the purpose of analyzing the blood sample to determine if cocaine or a residue of cocaine was in the sample. This examination was done by an expert in Salt Lake City who was flown to Charlotte for the purpose of testifying at the trial. A voir dire was held on defendant's motion to suppress the testimony of the witness. Afterwards the court denied defendant's motion to suppress all of the testimony. The defendant did not object to this ruling, nor did he ask that he be allowed a continuing objection to the questions asked in the presence of the jury. Rather, the defendant made individual objections to the testimony of the witness Peat during his examination. Defendant's counsel lodged some twelve objections during the direct examination of the witness Peat. The court passed upon the various objections as they were made in the presence of the jury. The following questions were asked in the presence of the jury of the witness Michael Peat, the examiner who was qualified as an expert in the field of chemistry and toxicology for the purpose of testifying in this case:

Q: Now you said the mass spectrometer would determine or show if there were cocaine or its metabolites in the sample that you tested. Is that correct?

A: That is correct.

Q: And in this particular instance of testing this blood sample, what results did you get on the mass spectrometer?

A: We did not detect cocaine or its metabolites in this blood sample.

The defendant did not object to this crucial testimony.

Generally, a defendant's failure to enter an appropriate and timely motion or objection results in a waiver of his right to assert the alleged error upon appeal. E.g., N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1446 (b) (1978); State v. Hill, 294 N.C. 320, 240 S.E.2d 794 (1978); State v. Montgomery, 291 N.C. 91, 229 S.E.2d 572 (1976). However, in State v. Mems, 281 N.C. 658, 190 S.E.2d 164 (1972), this Court held that where a voir dire was held by the court and thereafter the court ruled that the evidence sought to be excluded was admissible and the defendant excepted to the ruling, it was not necessary for the defendant to renew his objection upon the presentation of the testimony before the jury, although that would have been the better practice. Here, this principle is inapplicable because the defendant did not lodge an exception to the adverse ruling of the court upon his motion to suppress at the conclusion of the voir dire hearing. Nevertheless, in our discretion we have reviewed the testimony challenged by the defendant and find that it was competent and that the court did not commit error in admitting it.

Michael Peat, the witness, was qualified as an expert in the field of chemistry and toxicology for the purpose of testifying in this trial. He conducted two tests upon the defendant's blood sample which involved the use of accepted scientific procedures — radioimmunoassay, gas chromatography, and mass spectrometry. The witness was qualified to perform the tests in question, they were performed in accordance with scientifically approved procedures, and the procedures used were scientifically reliable. Therefore, the test results were properly admissible into evidence. State v. Gray, 292 N.C. 270, 233 S.E.2d 905 (1977); State v. Crowder, 285 N.C. 42, 203 S.E.2d 38 (1974), death sentence vacated, 428 U.S. 903, 49 L.Ed.2d 1207 (1976). Moreover, the initial screening test which was testified to before the jury showed a positive reaction for the presence of cocaine, which was favorable to the defendant. The second test failed to reveal the presence of cocaine or its metabolites in the blood sample. Mr. Peat also testified that once ingested, cocaine and its metabolites are quickly broken down and excreted from the human system. There was also before the jury the testimony of Dr. Peter Jatlow of the Yale University School of Medicine, who was a clinical pathologist. He was qualified as an expert in the analysis of blood and urine samples for the presence of various chemicals and has specialized in the study of such drugs as cocaine. He has also done extensive research on the breakdown of cocaine in the bloodstream. Dr. Jatlow's testimony corroborated the defendant's contention that defendant had ingested cocaine at the time in question. We find no prejudicial error in the court's admitting the testimony of the witness Michael Peat.

B.

Defendant next contends that there was not sufficient evidence to support the finding of a felony upon which the jury could base its determination of guilt of felony murder in the first degree. Defendant also contends that the underlying felonies relied upon by the state are kidnapping and attempted rape and that because they were presented to the jury in the disjunctive this raises a question of the unanimity of the verdict. The underlying felonies on the felony murder instructions were submitted in the disjunctive; however, a reading of the entire charge shows that Judge Ferrell clearly instructed the jury that its verdict must be unanimous as to every essential element of the offenses charged. Early in its instructions the court charged the jury that "your answers must be unanimous as to each issue and sub-part thereof which you shall come to consider." Later in his instructions, after his final mandate, Judge Ferrell charged:

Again, I remind you that each of these charges and any lesser-included offense about which I have instructed you is a separate charge and you should consider them at all times as separate in your deliberations.

Finally, as to any verdict which you reach in each charge, your verdict, to be a verdict, must be unanimous.

There can be no question but that the jury fully understood that its verdict must be unanimous as to each element of the offenses which were submitted to it.

We conclude that the law as stated by Justice Carlton in State v. Jordan, 305 N.C. 274, 279, 287 S.E.2d 827, 830-31 (1982), is equally applicable to the facts of this case:

Defendant also alleges error in the trial court's instructions on first degree burglary. He contends that by instructing the jury that defendant must have intended "to commit rape and/or first degree sexual offense" at the time of the breaking and entering, the trial court denied defendant his constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict.

The North Carolina Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant the right to a unanimous verdict. N.C. Const. art. I, 24; accord, State v. Williams, 286 N.C. 422, 212 S.E.2d 113 (1975). To convict a defendant, the jurors must unanimously agree that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt each and every essential element of the crime charged. See In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970). Defendant contends that the use of the disjunctive in describing the requisite intent for burglary created the possibility that less than all the jurors could agree which felony the defendant intended to commit although they might all agree that defendant did have the intent to commit one of the felonies and convict him of burglary.

While defendant's argument is not unreasonable, we are not persuaded. The trial court repeatedly instructed the jury that its verdict must be unanimous. When the charge is read as a whole, as it must be, it is obvious that the trial court conveyed to the jury that the verdicts must be unanimous as to every essential element and that the instruction containing the disjunctive was a shorthand statement that the jurors must all find that defendant had the intent to commit rape or that they must all agree that defendant had the intent to commit a first degree sexual offense. While defendant is correct as to the technical meaning of the instruction, this Court must neither forget nor discount the common sense and understanding of the trial court and the jurors. From our examination of the charge we are satisfied that defendant was not deprived of his constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict.

We find no prejudicial error in the court's instructions to the Jury.

Turning now to defendant's contention as to the insufficiency of the evidence, we find plenary evidence in the record to sustain both the charge of kidnapping Diane Parker and the charge of attempting to commit rape upon Diane Parker. Diane Parker was found on her back with her legs spread wide, her feet nearly up to her buttocks, knees raised and apart, and her nightgown drawn up to her upper chest, exposing her left breast. Many of the wounds were inflicted upon Diane Parker while she was in a prone position. An examination of Diane's nightgown indicated that it had been pulled up before some of the stab wounds were inflicted. When defendant crawled out of the bushes near Diane Parker's body, he had blood smeared upon his shirt and pants consistent with the blood type of Diane Parker. These facts support a reasonable inference that McDougall caught Diane Parker in the yard, knocked or threw her to the ground on her back, pulled her nightgown up over her chest, and parted her legs in an effort to rape her. She resisted and fought back, and McDougall stabbed her to death. The evidence is sufficient to survive a motion for nonsuit on the theory of murder during an attempted rape. State v. Knight, 248 N.C. 384, 103 S.E.2d 452 (1958); State v. Norman, 14 N.C. App. 394, 188 S.E.2d 667 (1972).

Moreover, the evidence is amply sufficient to find the defendant guilty of kidnapping Diane Parker and thus to support a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree upon that felony. N.C.G.S. 14-39 (a)(3) states that:

(a) Any person who shall unlawfully confine, restrain, or remove from one place to another, any other person 16 years of age or over without the consent of such person, or any other person under the age of 16 years without the consent of a parent or legal custodian of such person, shall be guilty of kidnapping if such confinement, restraint or removal is for the purpose of:

. . . .

(3) Doing serious bodily harm to or terrorizing the person so confined, restrained or removed or any other person.

The evidence is clear that there was a removal and restraint of Diane Parker which was more than an inherent inevitable part of the commission of the murder. State v. Irwin, 304 N.C. 93, 282 S.E.2d 439 (1981). The evidence shows that once McDougall grabbed the butcher knife in Diane and Vicki's kitchen, he continuously confined, removed, or restrained the two women until he crawled into the bushes after stabbing Diane to death. Clearly defendant removed Diane from her home at knife point and dragged her to an automobile in the driveway. There defendant stated that he intended to put her and Vicki in the trunk of the car and drive them to some undisclosed place. This removal was not inherent in the felony of murder or attempted rape. It was more than a technical asportation inherent in the commission of another felony. State v. Fulcher, 34 N.C. App. 233, 237 S.E.2d 909 (1977), aff'd, 294 N.C. 503, 243 S.E.2d 338 (1978). When Vicki threw the car keys to the ground, defendant threw her to the ground and began stabbing her. The two women were terrorized. Defendant prevented Diane from escaping from his control by catching her as she began to run across the yard. Whereas Vicki managed to lock herself in her house and call for help, Diane never escaped from her kidnapper. After he caught Diane, defendant stabbed her until she bled to death. The evidence thus supports a jury's finding that defendant was guilty of the felony of kidnapping Diane and that he murdered her in the perpetration of this felony.

While it is true that the jury found McDougall not guilty of the offense of kidnapping Vicki Dunno, this does not invalidate the finding that McDougall was guilty of kidnapping Diane Parker. Consistency of verdicts is not a necessity. A verdict of guilty on one count and not guilty on the other when the same act results in both offenses will not be disturbed. State v. Davis, 214 N.C. 787, 1 S.E.2d 104 (1938); State v. Rosser, 54 N.C. App. 660, 284 S.E.2d 130 (1981); 4 Strong's N.C. Index 3d Criminal Law 124.5 (1976). The verdict of kidnapping Diane Parker was fully supported by the evidence and supports the verdict of guilty with respect to felony murder. We find no prejudicial error in the determination of the guilt of defendant of murder in the first degree.

III. SENTENCING HEARING

During the sentencing hearing the state proposed to offer evidence of a previous conviction of defendant for a felony involving the use or threat of violence. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (e)(3) (Cum. Supp. 1981). The prior conviction was on a charge of rape in the state of Georgia in 1974. Defendant opposed the use of the 1974 rape conviction and first argued that it was not a final conviction because defendant had filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus moving that the conviction be set aside. This petition was filed during the current trial. It was only after this motion to suppress the use of the Georgia rape conviction was denied that defendant stipulated the certified record of the conviction could be introduced. Defendant, however, never stipulated that the Georgia rape conviction involved the use or threatened use of violence to the person.

The state further offered the testimony of Mary Huff, the victim in the Georgia rape case, for the purpose of showing that the crime involved the use or threat of violence. After extensive argument, the court allowed this witness to testify. Mary Huff testified that in 1973 she lived next door to defendant's sister and that prior to her rape she had seen defendant but had never talked to him. About 4:00 a.m. on 21 November 1973, she wakened, turned on her light, and saw defendant standing in her bedroom doorway. She ordered defendant to leave and began to telephone the police when he refused. Defendant pulled out a butcher knife, held it to her face, and threatened to kill her and her child unless she removed her nightgown. She complied, and defendant raped her upon her bed. Defendant threatened to kill her if she told his sister about the rape. After defendant left, Ms. Huff called the police. This testimony occupies seven pages of the transcript. Defendant cross-examined Mary Huff extensively, for eighteen pages of the transcript. Defendant attacked the credibility of the witness Huff and established that he was eighteen years of age at the time of the rape and had entered a plea of guilty to the charge.

During the sentencing hearing defendant also produced evidence from several expert witnesses concerning his emotional, mental, and psychological condition. McDougall testified in his own behalf, relating many experiences he had as a child, particularly those concerning his being beaten by his mother with pots, pans, golf clubs, and a car antenna. His grandfather committed suicide in McDougall's presence by shooting himself with a shotgun. McDougall's father was killed as the victim of an armed robbery.

McDougall testified that between dusk and midnight or one o'clock in the morning on the night of the crimes, he and a friend injected six grams of cocaine. He said his vision was fuzzy and he couldn't focus well as he drove home in the early morning hours. He parked outside his home in Blueberry Lane, but he didn't want to go inside because his arms were bleeding from the needle marks and he feared an argument with his wife. He decided to ask his neighbors for alcohol to clean his arms.

McDougall knocked on the door of the victims' house, said that he was "Lynda's husband from next door," and asked for alcohol. When Diane Parker asked if he wanted her to call a doctor, he said he didn't know why but he said yes. Someone opened the door and he went inside, where Diane Parker picked up the phone to call. At that point McDougall said he "lost everything," "could no longer think," and was "very, very scared." He picked up a knife he saw, grabbed the phone, and asked for car keys. He said the next thing he knew he was outside, and when he looked at Diane Parker, he saw his mother, who was hitting him with a car antenna. He said something happened inside him like an explosion in his chest, and he jumped at her and stabbed her. He saw her running, chased her, pulled her down, and started stabbing her again. He did that for a long time until he felt "the thing that had been inside" of him leaving. He stopped, sat on his knees, and couldn't hear or focus. He wanted to get away, but his legs wouldn't work, so he crawled under some nearby bushes. The next thing he knew there were many people around, including policemen. He thought they were after him for drugs so he came out and said, "I give up." The police questioned him about a woman who was dead, but he didn't remember what had happened and didn't believe them.

The jury found the following aggravating circumstances:

1. The defendant had previously been convicted of a felony involving the use of violence to the person. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (e)(3) (Cum. Supp. 1981).

2. The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (e)(9).

3. The murder was part of a course of conduct by the defendant which included the commission by defendant of another crime of violence against another person. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (e)(11).

The jury found the following mitigating circumstances:

1. The murder was committed while defendant was under the influence of mental or emotional disturbance. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (f)(2).

2. Defendant's capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or his capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law was impaired. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (f)(6).

3. There are other circumstances arising from the evidence that have mitigating value. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (f)(9).

The jury then answered the following issues:

3. Do you find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the mitigating circumstance or circumstances you have found is or are insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances you have found?

ANSWER: Yes.

4. Do you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstance or circumstances you have found is or are sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty?

ANSWER: Yes.

Whereupon the jury recommended that defendant be sentenced to death, which sentence the court imposed.

A.

Defendant first argues that by allowing Mary Huff to testify during the sentencing hearing the trial court committed prejudicial error. During the hearing the state sought to elicit testimony from Ms. Huff relevant to the following aggravating circumstance:

The defendant had been previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000(e)(3) (Cum. Supp. 1981).

Defendant had been previously convicted of feloniously raping Ms. Huff and feloniously burglarizing her home. Before Ms. Huff took the stand, the state contended at the bench that the facts of these prior convictions showed that each was a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person. Defendant responded by arguing that under N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (e)(3) the phrase "felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person" must be limited to a felony in which the use or threat of violence to the person was an element of the offense. Defendant contended that a prior felony conviction cannot be used as an aggravating circumstance unless the use or threat of violence to the person is an element of the offense, even though the facts show that the commission of the offense did involve the use or threat of violence to the person. Because the use or threat of violence to the person was not an element of the offense of burglary, the defendant argued that burglary is not a felony within the meaning of N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (e)(3). Therefore, defendant argued, evidence of the burglary was not admissible during the sentencing hearing for the purpose of establishing the aggravating circumstance listed in N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (e)(3).

The trial court resolved this question in favor of defendant. Although the state did not except to this ruling, we have examined the issue in our discretion because it is likely to arise again. We find the trial court's ruling to have been erroneous. The statute does not state that the jury may only consider as an aggravating circumstance those felonies in which the use or threat of violence to the person is an element of the offense. The statute contains the word "involving," which indicates an interpretation much more expansive than one restricting the jury to consider only felonies having the use or threat of violence to the person as an element. Crimes that do not have violence as an element may be committed by the use or threat of violence. By using "involving" instead of language delimiting consideration to the narrow class of felonies in which violence is an element of the offense, we find the legislature intended the prior felony in N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (e)(3) to include any felony whose commission involved the use or threat of violence to the person. Thus we hold that for purposes of N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (e)(3), a prior felony can be either one which has as an element the involvement of the use or threat of violence to the person, such as rape or armed robbery, State v. Hamlette, 302 N.C. 490, 276 S.E.2d 338 (1981), or a felony which does not have the use or threat of violence to the person as an element, but the use or threat of violence to the person was involved in its commission.

For example, a defendant could commit armed robbery, yet, for reasons satisfactory to the district attorney, only be charged with felonious larceny. A conviction the larceny charge could be an aggravating circumstance if the state at the sentencing hearing proved that its commission involved the use or threatened use of violence to the person. The testimony of witnesses would be proper to prove or rebut the involvement of violence. Likewise, a defendant could be convicted of rape in the second degree by engaging in vaginal intercourse with a victim who is mentally defective. N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-27.3 (a)(2) (1981). Violence is not an element of the offense. If the use or threat of violence to the person was involved, this could be shown by witnesses to establish the conviction as an aggravating circumstance. Forgery, N.C.G.S. 14-119 (1981), a nonviolent crime, may be committed by a defendant who forces another at gunpoint to forge a signature on a check.

Defendant's objection before this Court concerns Mary Huff's testimony regarding defendant's prior conviction for raping her. We note that rape is a felony which has as an element the "use or threat of violence to the person." N.C.G.S. 14-27.2 reads in part as follows: 14-27.2. First degree rape.

(a) A person is guilty of rape in the first degree if the person engages in vaginal intercourse:

. . . .

(2) With another person by force and against the will of the other person, and:

a. Employs or displays a dangerous or deadly weapon.

Defendant was convicted of raping Ms. Huff in Georgia, where the same general principle applies: "A person commits the offense of rape when he has carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will . . . ." Ga. Code Ann. 16-6-1 (a) (1982).

Defendant stipulated to the admissibility of the certified record of his prior conviction of the felony of rape. When the state sought to introduce testimony of Ms. Huff concerning the rape, defendant objected on grounds that his stipulation foreclosed the state from offering testimony to establish the prior conviction and the fact that it involved the use or threat of violence to the person. The trial court ruled that Ms. Huff could testify during the sentencing hearing concerning the prior rape. When she took the stand, she stated that McDougall had raped her at knife point, threatening to kill her and her young daughter.

Although defendant argued that the felony of rape in Georgia involved the use or threat of violence as a matter of law, he did not so stipulate with respect to this prior conviction.

Defendant states that as a result of allowing the testimony of Mary Huff concerning the prior rape conviction, the sentencing hearing turned into a "mini-trial" of the prior offense. He relies upon State v. Silhan, 302 N.C. 223, 275 S.E.2d 450 (1981). At the outset we note that this case was tried at the 9 June 1980 session of superior court in Mecklenburg County and that Silhan was not decided until 4 March 1981. Therefore Judge Ferrell did not have the benefit of Silhan. Moreover we do not find that Silhan supports defendant's argument. In Silhan we find:

If this aspect of the hearing did become a "raucous mini-trial," it was due largely to the efforts of defendant's counsel, Jerry Paul, during his free-swinging, wide-ranging cross-examination of Ms. Huff. Defendant cannot be heard now to complain about the results of his own overzealous actions.

We note in this regard that the most appropriate way to show the "prior felony" aggravating circumstance would be to offer duly authenticated court records. Testimony of the victims themselves should not ordinarily be offered unless such testimony is necessary to show that the crime for which defendant was convicted involved the use or threat of violence to the person. There should be no "mini-Trial" at the sentencing hearing on the questions of whether the prior felony occurred, the circumstances and details surrounding it, and who was the perpetrator. Whether a defendant has, in fact, been convicted of a prior felony involving the use or threat of violence to a person would seem to be a fact which ordinarily is beyond dispute. It should be a matter of public record. If, of course, defendant denies that he was the defendant shown on the conviction record, the occurrence of the conviction, or that the crime involved the use or threat of violence to the person, then the state should be permitted to offer such evidence as it has to overcome defendant's denials.

302 N.C. at 272, 275 S.E.2d at 484 (emphasis added).

The above statement by this Court in Silhan may properly be referred to as obiter dictum. In State v. Taylor, 304 N.C. 249, 283 S.E.2d 761 (1981) (decided eight months after Silhan), this Court was faced directly with the question whether the state could introduce evidence concerning a prior murder when the defendant had stipulated that he had been found guilty of the charge. This Court found no error in allowing such testimony.

The objection made by defendant is that, as he had stipulated the fact of his prior conviction, the State should not have been allowed to introduce testimony concerning the murder. The State argues that when proving as an aggravating circumstance that defendant was previously convicted of a capital felony or of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person (G.S. 15A-2000 (e)(2) and (3) ), the State should not be limited to admission of the court record of conviction.

We think the better rule here is to allow both sides to introduce evidence in support of aggravating and mitigating circumstances which have been admitted into evidence by stipulation. If the capital felony of which defendant has previously been convicted was a particularly shocking or heinous crime, the jury should be so informed. Conversely, it could be to defendant's advantage that he be allowed to offer additional evidence in support of possible mitigating circumstances, instead of being bound by the State's stipulation.

In Elledge v. State, 346 So.2d 998 (Fla. 1977), the Supreme Court of Florida addressed the same question. There, as here, appellant's counsel stipulated to the admissibility of a prior conviction of defendant for murder. At the sentencing hearing, the widow of the victim was nonetheless allowed to testify in detail about events surrounding the crime. In deeming the testimony properly admitted, the court said:

This is so because we believe the purpose for considering aggravating and mitigating circumstances is to engage in a character analysis of the defendant to ascertain whether the ultimate penalty is called for in his or her particular case. Propensity to commit violent crimes surely must be a valid consideration for the jury and the judge. It is matter that can contribute to decisions as to sentence which will lead to uniform treatment and help eliminate `total arbitrariness and capriciousness in [the] imposition' of the death penalty. (Citation omitted.)

Id. at 1001.

304 N.C. at 279-80, 283 S.E.2d at 780-81.

Although Justice Exum, the author of Silhan, dissented in part in Taylor, he did not dissent from this holding of the Court.

In Taylor the prior felony, murder, involved violence as an element of the offense. The holding in Taylor is in accord with the general rule that every circumstance calculated to throw light upon the alleged crime is admissible. State v. Covington, 290 N.C. 313, 226 S.E.2d 629 (1976); State v. Sneeden, 274 N.C. 498, 164 S.E.2d 190 (1968); State v. Hamilton, 264 N.C. 277, 141 S.E.2d 506 (1965), cert. denied, 384 U.S. 1020 (1966).

The trial judge has ample authority to control the state's presentation of evidence in proving that the prior felony involved the use or threat of violence to the person. It is the duty of the trial judge to supervise and control the trial to prevent injustice to either party. GreeT v. Whittington, 251 N.C. 630, 111 S.E.2d 912 (1960). The court has the power and duty to control the examination and cross-examination of the witnesses. State v. Arnold, 284 N.C. 41, 199 S.E.2d 423 (1973); Greer, supra. The trial judge may ban unduly repetitious and argumentative questions as well as inquiry into matters of tenuous relevance. State v. Satterfield, 300 N.C. 621, 268 S.E.2d 510 (1980); State v. Vestal, 278 N.C. 561, 180 S.E.2d 755 (1971), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 874 (1973). The extent of cross-examination with respect to collateral matters is largely within the discretion of the trial judge. State v. McLean, 294 N.C. 623, 242 S.E.2d 814 (1978); Ingle v. Transfer Corp., 271 N.C. 276, 156 S.E.2d 265 (1967). The proper exercise of this authority will prevent the determination of this aggravating circumstance from becoming a "mini-trial" of the previous charge.

Defendant here argues that the state should be limited to introducing the authenticated record of the conviction to prove a prior felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person. Only if defendant then challenges the involvement of the use or threat of violence to the person with respect to the offense would the state be allowed to rebut this contention by the use of witnesses. This argument overlooks the state's duty to prove each aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (c)(1) (Cum. Supp. 1981). Although the introduction of the record of the prior conviction establishes a prima facie case where the prior felony has the use or threat of violence as an element and could support a peremptory instruction, it is not conclusive upon the jury. Where violence is not an element of the felonious offense, the introduction of the record of conviction would not create a prima facie case. In either event, the state cannot be deprived of an opportunity to carry its burden of proof by the use of competent, relevant evidence.

We find the rule in Taylor to be dispositive with respect to this question, and we hold that the involvement of the use or threat of violence to the person in the commission of the prior felony may be proven or rebutted by the testimony of witnesses and that the state may initiate the introduction of this evidence notwithstanding defendant's stipulation of the record of conviction.

This ruling is consistent with the opinions of the United States Supreme Court. In Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978), we find:

And where sentencing discretion is granted, it generally has been agreed that the sentencing judge's "possession of the fullest information possible concerning the defendant's life and characteristics" is "[h]ighly relevant — if not essential — [to the] selection of an appropriate sentence . . . ." Williams v. New York, supra [337 U.S.], at 247 [ 93 L.Ed. 1337, 69 S.Ct. 1079] (emphasis added).

Id. at 602-03, 57 L.Ed.2d at 988-89.

The plurality concluded, in the course of invalidating North Carolina's mandatory death penalty statute, that the sentencing process must permit consideration of the "character and record of the individual offender and the circumstances of the particular offense as a constitutionally indispensable part of the process of inflicting the penalty of death." Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U.S. at 304 [ 49 L.Ed.2d 944, 96 S.Ct. 2978] in order to ensure the reliability, under Eighth Amendment standards, of the determination that "death is the appropriate punishment in a specific case."

Id. at 601, 57 L.Ed.2d at 988 (citations omitted).

"in capital cases the fundamental respect for humanity underlying the Eighth Amendment . . . requires consideration of the character and record of the individual offender and the circumstances of the particular offense as a constitutionally indispensable part of the process of inflicting the penalty of death."

Id. at 604, 57 L.Ed.2d at 989 (quoting Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U.S. at 304, 49 L.Ed.2d at 961).

While Lockett dealt with an Ohio statute that limited the mitigating circumstances available to a defendant, its reasoning applies equally to the prosecution. In order to prevent an arbitrary or erratic imposition of the death penalty, the state must be allowed to present, by competent relevant evidence, any aspect of a defendant's character or record and any of the circumstances of the offense that will substantially support the imposition of the death penalty. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (b)(3) (Cum. Supp. 1981).

The assignment of error is without merit.

B.

Defendant next argues that the trial court erred in failing to submit to the jury in writing all possible mitigating circumstances on the verdict sheet. We reject this argument and find no prejudicial error in this regard.

This Court in State v. Pinch, 306 N.C. 1, 292 S.E.2d 203, cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982), outlined the instructive guidelines established by this Court for the trial judges of our state to follow in the submission of mitigating circumstances. We commend them to the bench and bar. Defendant's assignment of error is governed by the rules in State v. Johnson, 298 N.C. 47, 257 S.E.2d 597 (1979). There it was held that if "a defendant makes a timely request for a listing in writing of possible mitigating circumstances . . . the trial judge must put such circumstances on the written list." Id. at 72, 257 S.E.2d at 617 (emphasis added). Absent a request to include possible mitigating circumstances on the written verdict form, the failure of the trial judge to so do is not error. Id.

Here defendant moved that the court submit to the jury three statutory mitigating circumstances, N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (f), and twelve additional mitigating circumstances, N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (f)(9). The court placed the three statutory circumstances on the verdict sheet. The additional circumstances were not placed on the verdict sheet. However, the following question was submitted to the jury on the verdict sheet: "Is there any other circumstance or circumstances arising from the evidence which you deem to have mitigating value?" The judge charged the jury on ten of the twelve mitigating circumstances requested under N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (f)(9). The jury answered this issue "yes."

Defendant failed to request, as required by Johnson, that the mitigating circumstances be listed on the written verdict form. The fact that the trial judge in his discretion listed the statutory mitigating circumstances on the verdict form does not make it error for him to fail to list the additional circumstances. See also State v. Rook, 304 N.C. 201, 283 S.E.2d 732 (1981), cert. denied 455 U.S. 1038, 72 L.Ed.2d 155 (1982) (there are no statutory or constitutional requirements of specific findings on the mitigating circumstances submitted to the jury).

We again repeat that it would be the better practice to include on the verdict form all mitigating circumstances that are to be submitted to the jury. Id. In so doing, however, the trial court must also submit the question of whether there exists "[a]ny other circumstance arising from the evidence which the jury deems to have mitigating value." N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (f)(9) (Cum. Supp. 1981). Otherwise, jurors may feel they are prohibited from considering additional mitigating circumstances not listed on the verdict sheet. Failure to submit this question could violate the constitutional principles enunciated in Lockett v. Ohio, supra 438 U.S. 586, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978).

In addressing this assignment of error, defendant urges that the trial court erred in the following instruction: "The law of North Carolina specifies the mitigating circumstances which might be considered by you, and only those circumstances created by statute, about which I shall instruct you, may be considered by you."

Standing alone this instruction is arguably erroneous unless the phrase "only those circumstances created by statute" is interpreted to include mitigating circumstances arising under N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (f)(9). Certainly this is a logical interpretation of the phrase, and we adopt it. Moreover, when we examine the court's charge in its entirety, as we are required to do, no error appears. State v. Silhan, supra, 302 N.C. 223, 275 S.E.2d 450 (1981), State v. Tomblin, 276 N.C. 273, 171 S.E.2d 901 (1970); State v. Hall, 267 N.C. 90, 147 S.E.2d 548 (1966). The court, after giving the quoted instruction, specifically charged the jury as to each mitigating circumstance relied upon by defendant. This included three mitigating circumstances specifically listed in the statute and ten circumstances under N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (f)(9). In this respect the court charged:

[Y]ou may consider any circumstance from the evidence which you are satisfied lessens the seriousness of the murder or suggests a lesser penalty than otherwise may be required, such as the defendant's character, education, environment, habits, mentality, propensities and record, and any other circumstances arising from the evidence which you deem to have mitigating value. . . . [The judge listed ten mitigating circumstances.]

So then, if you find from the evidence any one or more of the mitigating circumstances specifically enumerated in the preceding paragraph or any other mitigating circumstance arising from the evidence which you deem to have mitigating value, then it would be your duty to answer this sub-part (d) "Yes." Otherwise, "No."

So then, Members of the Jury, as to this second issue I instruct you that if you find one or more of the mitigating circumstances from the evidence, it would be your duty to answer the issue "Yes," . . . .

The trial court repeatedly instructed that the jury could find any mitigating circumstance supported by the evidence. We find no prejudicial error in the challenged instruction.

C.

Defendant argues that the trial court erred in charging that if the jury found that: (1) one or more aggravating circumstances existed, and (2) that mitigating circumstances found by it were insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances, and (3) the aggravating circumstances were sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty, it had a duty to recommend a sentence of execution. Defendant contends that even though the jury answers the issues in the manner required in order to impose the death sentence, it could still exercise its discretion and recommend a sentence of life imprisonment. This question has been resolved by this Court contrary to defendant's contention in State v. Pinch, supra, 306 N.C. 1, 292 S.E.2d 203, cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982); State v. Williams, 305 N.C. 656, 292 S.E.2d 243, cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982); and State v. Smith, 305 N.C. 691, 292 S.E.2d 264, cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982). Defendant requests us to reconsider these holdings. We decline to do so and reaffirm these decisions with respect to this issue. This assignment of error is meritless.

D.

Defendant argues that the form of and instructions on the fourth issue submitted to the jury were erroneous. The issue reads:

4. Do you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstance or circumstances you have found is or are sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty?

ANSWER: Yes.

This issue involves the requirement that in making the ultimate decision between life and death, the jury must consider any aggravating circumstances found along with any mitigating circumstances. The totality of the mitigating and aggravating circumstances must be considered by the jury in arriving at this decision. We review the court's instructions in their entirety in addressing this issue.

The court instructed the jury inter alia:

It is now your duty to recommend to the Court whether the defendant will be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Your recommendation will be binding upon the Court. If you unanimously recommend that the defendant be sentenced to death, the Court will be required to impose a sentence of death.

. . . . . .

A mitigating circumstance is that circumstance arising from the evidence which does not constitute a justification or excuse for a killing, or which reduces it to a lesser degree of crime than first-degree murder, but which nevertheless may be considered as extenuating or reducing the moral culpability of the killing, or which makes it less deserving of extreme punishment than other first-degree murders. . . .

The defendant has the burden of persuading you of the existence of any mitigating circumstance. The defendant must satisfy you from the evidence taken as a whole, not beyond a reasonable doubt, but merely to your satisfaction, of the existence of any mitigating circumstance.

. . . . . .

[Y]ou may consider any circumstance from the evidence which you are satisfied lessens the seriousness of the murder or suggests a lesser penalty than otherwise may be required, such as the defendant's character, education, environment, habits, mentality, propensities and record, and any other circumstances arising from the evidence which you deem to have mitigating value. . . .

. . . . . .

So then, if you find from the evidence any one or more of the mitigating circumstances specifically enumerated in the preceding paragraph or any other mitigating circumstance arising from the evidence which you deem to have mitigating value, then it would be your duty to answer this sub-part (d) "Yes." Otherwise, "No."

So then, Members of the Jury, as to this second issue I instruct you that if you find one or more of the mitigating circumstances from the evidence, it would be your duty to answer the issue "Yes". . . .

. . . . . .

The third issue for your consideration reads as follows:

3. Do you find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the mitigating circumstance or circumstances you have found is or are insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances you have found?

On this issue the burden is upon the State to prove to you from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigating circumstances you find are insufficient to outweigh any aggravating circumstances you may have found.

If you find from the evidence one or more mitigating circumstances, you must weigh the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating circumstances. In so doing, you are the sole judges of the weight to be given to any individual circumstance which you find, whether aggravating or mitigating. Your weighing should not consist of merely adding up the number of aggravating circumstances and mitigating circumstances. Rather, you must decide from all the evidence what value to give to each circumstance, and then weigh the aggravating circumstances, so valued, against the mitigating circumstances, so valued, and finally determine whether the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances.

So then, Members of the Jury, if the State has proven to you from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigating circumstances you find are insufficient to — that is, do not — outweigh the aggravating circumstances you find, it would then be your duty to answer this third issue "Yes." However, if you do not so find, or if you have a reasonable doubt, then it would be your duty to answer this issue "No."

. . . . . .

On this [Fourth] issue the burden is on the State to prove to you from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances found, if any, are sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty.

Substantial means having substance or weight, important, significant or momentous. Aggravating circumstances may exist in a particular case and still not be sufficiently substantial to call for the death penalty. Therefore, it is not enough for the State to prove from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of one or more aggravating circumstances. It must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that such aggravating circumstances are sufficiently substantial to call for the death penalty, and before you may answer "Yes," you must agree unanimously that they are.

If you unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt that any aggravating circumstance or circumstances found by you are sufficiently substantial to call for the death penalty, you would answer this issue "Yes." If you do not so find, or have a reasonable doubt, then you would answer this issue "No."

If you answer this issue "No," it would be your duty to recommend that the defendant be imprisoned for life.

So then, Members of the Jury, finally I instruct you for you to recommend that the defendant be sentenced to death, the State must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt, as I have defined that term, from the evidence:

FIRST, that one or more statutory aggravating circumstances existed; and,

SECOND, that the mitigating circumstances found by you are insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances, if any, found by you; and,

THIRD, that the aggravating circumstances, if any, found by you are sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty.

. . . .

. . . If the State has proven these three things to you beyond a reasonable doubt, and you unanimously so find, it would be your duty to recommend that the defendant be sentenced to death. If you do not so find, or if you have a reasonable doubt to one or more of these things, it would be your duty to recommend that the defendant be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Defendant contends that the form of the issue and the jury instructions allowed the jury to answer the issue "yes" without any consideration of the mitigating circumstances found by the jury.

The issues submitted are based upon the following portions of the statute:

After hearing the evidence, argument of counsel, and instructions of the court, the jury shall deliberate and render a sentence recommendation to the court, based upon the following matters:

(1) Whether any sufficient aggravating circumstance or circumstances as enumerated in subsection (e) exist;

(2) Whether any sufficient mitigating circumstance or circumstances as enumerated in subsection (f), which outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances found, exist; and

(3) Based on these considerations, whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or to imprisonment in the State's prison for life.

. . . .

(c) Findings in Support of Sentence of Death. — When the jury recommends a sentence of death, the foreman of the jury shall sign a writing on behalf of the jury which writing shall show:

(1) The statutory aggravating circumstance or circumstances which the jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt; and

(2) That the statutory aggravating circumstance or circumstances found by the jury are sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty; and,

(3) That the mitigating circumstance or circumstances are insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances found.

N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (b), (c) (Cum. Supp. 1981).

The fourth issue is not an isolated, independent question that may be answered without reference to the other issues and circumstances of the case. This is manifested by the language of the General Assembly — "[b]ased on these considerations" should the defendant be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (b)(3) (Cum. Supp. 1981). In deciding the fourth issue, the jury must consider the aggravating circumstances found, the mitigating circumstances found, and the degree to which the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances. The jury must compare the totality of the aggravating circumstances with the totality of the mitigating circumstances and be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the statutory aggravating circumstances found are sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty and that the death penalty is justified and appropriate.

When the charge is considered contextually, as we have done, no prejudicial error appears. State v. Tomblin, 276 N.C. 273, 171 S.E.2d 901 (1970). Although not a model charge, the jury was adequately instructed that before recommending the death sentence it must be satisfied that the sentence is justified and appropriate upon considering the totality of the aggravating circumstances with the totality of the mitigating circumstances found by the jury. The charge and the sentencing procedure satisfied the requirements of N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 and the holding in Lockett v. Ohio, supra, 438 U.S. 586, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978), that the death penalty should not be imposed where the sentencer may be prevented from considering all mitigating circumstances in making the ultimate life or death determination.

The jury is not required to assign a value to the aggravating circumstances, subtract from it the value of the mitigating circumstances, and then look to the remainder to determine if that value is sufficiently substantial to deserve the death penalty. We reject and disapprove such a mechanical mathematical approach to the decision of life or death.

The instructions given in this case are substantially the same as those approved by this Court in State v. Brown, 306 N.C. 151, 293 S.E.2d 569, cert. den., 459 U.S. 1080, 74 L.Ed.2d 642 (1982); State v. Pinch, 306 N.C. 1, 292 S.E.2d 203, cert den., 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982); State v. Williams, 305 N.C. 656, 292 S.E.2d 243, cert. den., 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982); State v. Rook, 304 N.C. 201, 283 S.E.2d 732 (1981), cert. den., 455 U.S. 1038, 72 L.Ed.2d 155 (1982); State v. Martin, 303 N.C. 246, 278 S.E.2d 214, cert. den., 454 U.S. 933, 70 L.Ed.2d 240 (1981); State v. Barfield, 298 N.C. 306, 259 S.E.2d 510 (1979), cert. den., 448 U.S. 907, 65 L.Ed.2d 1137 (1980).

As stated earlier, although the instructions are free from prejudicial error, they are not a model charge. The form of the fourth issue can also be more appropriately framed. We therefore urge the bench and bar to carefully consider the following with respect to this question.

We note that the order and form of the issues in capital trials have varied from case to case. The order and form of the issues to be submitted to the jury should be substantially as follows:

(1) Do you find from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of one or more of the following aggravating circumstances?

(2) Do you find from the evidence the existence of one or more of the following mitigating circumstances?

(3) Do you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigating circumstance or circumstances you have found is, or are, insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances you have found?

(4) Do you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstance or circumstances found by you is, or are, sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty when considered with the mitigating circumstance or circumstances found by you?

With respect to the fourth issue we find the following statement by the Utah Supreme Court in State v. Wood, 648 P.2d 71, 83 (Utah), cert. den., 459 U.S. 988, 74 L.Ed.2d 383 (1982), quoted by the United States Supreme Court in Smith v. North Carolina, 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982), to be instructive:

It is our conclusion that the appropriate standard to be followed by the sentencing authority — judge or jury — in a capital case is the following:

"After considering the totality of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, you must be persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that total aggravation outweighs total mitigation, and you must further be persuaded, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the imposition of the death penalty is justified and appropriate in the circumstances."

These standards require that the sentencing body compare the totality of the mitigating against the totality of the aggravating factors, not in terms of the relative numbers of the aggravating and the mitigating factors, but in terms of their respective substantiality and persuasiveness. Basically, what the sentencing authority must decide is how compelling or persuasive the totality of the mitigating factors are when compared against the totality of the aggravating factors. The sentencing body, in making the judgment that aggravating factors "outweigh," or are more compelling than, the mitigating factors, must have no reasonable doubt as to that conclusion, and as to the additional conclusion that the death penalty is justified and appropriate after considering all the circumstances.

The sentencing procedure in each capital case must assure reliability in the decision that death is the proper punishment. Lockett v. Ohio, supra, 438 U.S. 586, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978). Appropriate instructions on the fourth issue should be given to the jury substantially as follows:

"In deciding this issue, you are not to consider the aggravating circumstances standing alone. You must consider them in connection with any mitigating circumstances found by you. After considering the totality of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, you must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the imposition of the death penalty is justified and appropriate in this case before you can answer the issue `yes.' In so doing, you are not applying a mathematical formula. For example, three circumstances of one kind do not automatically and of necessity outweigh one circumstance of another kind. The number of circumstances found is only one consideration in determining which circumstances outweigh others. The jury may very properly emphasize one circumstance more than another in a particular case. You must consider the relative substantiality and persuasiveness of the existing aggravating and mitigating circumstances in making this determination. You, the jury, must determine how compelling and persuasive the totality of the aggravating circumstances are when compared with the totality of the mitigating circumstances found by you. After so doing, if you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances found by you are sufficiently substantial to call for the death penalty, it would be your duty to answer the issue `yes.' If you are not so satisfied or have a reasonable doubt, it would be your duty to answer the issue `no.'"

State v. Melton, 307 N.C. 370, 298 S.E.2d 673 (1983); State v. Davis, 58 N.C. App. 330, 293 S.E.2d 658, disc. rev. denied, 306 N.C. 745 (1982).

Smith v. North Carolina, 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982).

Cf. State v. Smith, 305 N.C. 691, 292 S.E.2d 264, cert. den. 459 U.S. 1056, 74 L.Ed.2d 622 (1982).

Bench and bar should note that the foregoing is not intended to be a complete charge on this issue.

In the event the jury fails to find the existence of any mitigating circumstances, the jury must still answer the fourth issue. In such case, the jury must determine whether the aggravating circumstances found by the jury are of such value, weight, importance, consequence, or significance as to be sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty. Substantial circumstances may be contrasted with circumstances that are tenuous, flimsy, abstract, imaginary, deceptive, or negligible.

We find no prejudicial error in the sentencing phase of defendant's trial.

IV.

Finally, we turn to the duties required of this Court in every capital case in which a sentence of death has been imposed. We are directed by N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 (d)(2), (Cum. Supp. 1981) to determine:

(1) Whether the record supports the jury's findings of any aggravating circumstance or circumstances upon which the sentencing court based its sentence of death;

(2) Whether the sentence was imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice or any other arbitrary factor; and

(3) Whether the sentence of death is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant.

We have thoroughly reviewed the transcript, record on appeal, briefs of the defendant and the State, as well as the recorded oral arguments of counsel before this Court. After so doing, we find that the record fully supports the aggravating circumstances found by the jury. We hold that the death sentence was not imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice or any other arbitrary factor. There is no indication in the transcript or record that any impermissible factor influenced the imposition of the death sentence.

We must next determine whether the sentence in this case is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases. In our opinion in State v. Douglas Williams, Jr. (No. 277A82, Edgecombe County, filed 5 April 1983), this Court set forth the pool of cases to be considered in proportionality review of sentences in capital cases. Williams also states the method of such review. The pool of cases for a proportionality review is composed of all capital cases tried after the effective date of our capital punishment statute, 1 June 1977, in which there were convictions of murder in the first degree, regardless of the sentences imposed, and which have been reviewed on appeal by this Court. In making this review, this Court will rely upon its own case reports of the pool of cases, together with the transcript, record and briefs when necessary. See, Williams, supra.

Upon review of the transcript, record, briefs and recorded oral arguments, we do not find the death sentence in this case disproportionate when compared with the pool of similar cases. In carrying out this review we have considered both the crime and the defendant. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (d)(2), (Cum. Supp. 1981). In so doing, we have complied with the constitutional requirement that individualized consideration be given to the defendant before the death sentence can be upheld. Lockett v. Ohio, supra, 438 U.S. 586, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978). In considering the defendant, we note that the jury found as statutory mitigating circumstances that defendant was under the influence of mental or emotional disturbance when he committed the murder, and that the defendant's capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform to the requirements of law was impaired. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (f)(2) and (6). While these findings are often persuasive on the jury in recommending life imprisonment, they are not conclusive. It is also apparent from the transcript and record that, although there is evidence to the contrary, these mitigating circumstances may have resulted from the defendant's voluntary injections of cocaine. The trial court instructed the jury that defendant could be under a mental or emotional disturbance as a result of the "consumption of drugs." Likewise, with respect to impaired capacity, the jury was instructed that this condition could be caused by "drug intoxication." In this case, although finding the existence of these two mitigating circumstances, the jury could have reasonably given them less weight in making the ultimate decision of life or death than did the juries in the cases cited in footnote 9.

See State v. Adcox, 303 N.C. 133, 277 S.E.2d 398 (1981); State v. King, 301 N.C. 186, 270 S.E.2d 98 (1980); State v. Myers, 299 N.C. 671, 263 S.E.2d 768 (1980); State v. Ferdinando, 298 N.C. 737, 260 S.E.2d 423 (1979); State v. Taylor, 298 N.C. 405, 259 S.E.2d 502 (1979); State v. Poole, 298 N.C. 254, 258 S.E.2d 339 (1979); State v. Crews, 296 N.C. 607, 252 S.E.2d 745 (1979).

State v. Rook, 304 N.C. 201, 283 S.E.2d 732 (1981), cert. den., 455 U.S. 1038, 72 L.Ed.2d 155 (1982); State v. Hutchins, 303 N.C. 321, 279 S.E.2d 788 (1981); State v. Johnson, 298 N.C. 47, 257 S.E.2d 597 (1979).

The jury found the existence of three aggravating circumstances: defendant had been previously convicted of a felony involving the use of violence to the person, the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, and the murder was part of a course of conduct which included a crime of violence by defendant against another person, Vicki Dunno. N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (e)(3), (9) and (11) (Cum. Supp. 1981). Two of these aggravating circumstances could not have been caused or influenced in any way by defendant's emotional state or diminished capacity. The transcript and record do not support the theory that this murder was the product of defendant's unfortunate childhood or a deficient personality exacerbated by the voluntary injection of cocaine.

After voluntarily injecting cocaine, defendant gained entry into the home of Diane Parker and Vicki Dunno by cunning, guile and misrepresentation. Once in their home, he commenced a campaign of terror against the two young women, cutting, stabbing and slashing them with a butcher knife. There is strong evidence that defendant killed Diane Parker while attempting to rape her. There is no reason to repeat here the gory details of the crime.

No duty of this Court is more serious or important than the review of a sentence of death. With this in mind, our careful comparison of this crime and this defendant with similar cases leads us to the conclusion that the death sentence imposed upon this defendant is not disproportionate or excessive. We find nothing in our review that would justify treating this defendant differently from those defendants who were given death sentences which this Court has upheld since 1 June 1977. Nor does our review of the life sentence cases in the pool of similar cases lead us to the conclusion that defendant should receive a life sentence. Our review discloses a meaningful basis for distinguishing this case from those in which life sentences were imposed. Lockett v. Ohio, supra, 438 U.S. 586, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978); Harris v. Pulley, 692 F.2d 1189 (9th Cir. 1982), cert. granted, 43 C.C.H. S.Ct. Bull. B1442 (21 March 1983). We do not find the death sentence in this case to be inappropriate as a matter of law. We decline to exercise our discretion to set aside the death sentence imposed.

Defendant was also convicted of assault on Vicki Dunno with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and kidnapping of Diane Parker. Although he gave notice of appeal of these convictions, defendant does not bring forward any assignments of error or make any argument with respect to these charges in his brief. We find no error in these convictions.

The result is:

No. 79CRS47734 — assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury — no error.

No. 79CRS67081 — kidnapping — no error.

No. 79CRS47697 — murder in the first degree — no error in guilt determination; no error in the sentencing phase.

Justice FRYE took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


Summaries of

State v. McDougall

Supreme Court of North Carolina
Apr 1, 1983
308 N.C. 1 (N.C. 1983)

In McDougall, the court was attempting to establish uniformity in sentencing based on North Carolina's applicable statute. It was not setting forth a federal constitutional standard.

Summary of this case from McDougall v. Dixon

following State v. Taylor, 304 N.C. 249, 279, 283 S.E.2d 761, 780, cert. denied, 463 U.S. 1213, 77 L. Ed. 2d 1398

Summary of this case from State v. Carter

In McDougall we noted "the state's duty [under N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000(c)(1)] to prove each aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt.... [T]he state cannot be deprived of an opportunity to carry its burden of proof by the use of competent, relevant evidence."

Summary of this case from State v. Thomas

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 865, 78 L.Ed.2d 173 (1983), we reaffirmed the rule in State v. Taylor, 304 N.C. 249, 283 S.E.2d 761 (1981), cert. denied, 463 U.S. 1213, 77 L.Ed.2d 1398 (1983), holding that the state may not be limited to the introduction of a record of prior conviction when attempting to prove a circumstance in aggravation, whether or not the defendant has stipulated to the record of conviction.

Summary of this case from State v. Thomas

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 865, 78 L.Ed.2d 173 (1983), for example, we affirmed a sentence of death.

Summary of this case from State v. Rouse

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, the Court held that where the State introduces the record of a defendant's prior conviction, if the prior crime has the use or threat of violence as an element, the trial court may peremptorily instruct on the existence of the aggravating circumstance in N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000(e)(3).

Summary of this case from State v. Jones

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 865, 78 L.Ed.2d 173 (1983), the defendant, after injecting cocaine, gained entry into the victim's home by guile, where he cut and stabbed the victim to death with a butcher knife.

Summary of this case from State v. Lee

underlying felonies stated disjunctively; unanimous jury verdict, as instructed, presumed as to both

Summary of this case from State v. Yelverton

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, this Court specifically concluded that instructions substantially similar to those given by the trial court in the case sub judice satisfied both the requirements of N.C.G.S. 15A-2000 and the holding in Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978).

Summary of this case from State v. Artis

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 865, 78 L.Ed.2d 173 (1983), we held that where a prior crime committed by the defendant has the use or threat of violence as an element, introduction of the record of the prior conviction can support a peremptory instruction on this aggravating circumstance.

Summary of this case from State v. McNeil

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 865, 78 L.Ed.2d 173 (1983), we reaffirmed the rule in State v. Taylor, 304 N.C. 249, 283 S.E.2d 761 (1981), cert. denied, 463 U.S. 1213, 77 L.Ed.2d 1398 (1983), holding that the state may not be limited to the introduction of a record of prior conviction when attempting to prove a circumstance in aggravation, whether or not the defendant has stipulated to the record of conviction.

Summary of this case from State v. Green

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 865, 78 L.Ed.2d 173 (1983), the defendant attacked the victim and her roommate with a knife, stabbing the victim twenty-two times.

Summary of this case from State v. Brown

In State v. McDougall (1983) 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed that, if questions (1) and (2) were answered "yes" and question (3) was answered "no," the jury had a duty to recommend death.

Summary of this case from People v. Brown

In State v. McDougall (1983) 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed that, if questions (1) and (2) were answered "yes" and question (3) was answered "no," the jury had a duty to recommend death.

Summary of this case from People v. Brown

reaching the same result under N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (e)

Summary of this case from State v. Graham

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308 (1983), State v. Williams, 308 N.C. 47, 301 S.E.2d 335 (1983), and State v. Kirkley, 308 N.C. 196, 302 S.E.2d 144 (1983), we held that instructions substantially similar to that given in instant case were free from prejudicial error, but were not model instructions.

Summary of this case from State v. Jerrett

In State v. McDougall, 308 N.C. 1, 301 S.E.2d 308 (1983), we addressed this issue in light of Justice Stevens' remarks in Pinch, and recommended a new instruction.

Summary of this case from State v. Oliver
Case details for

State v. McDougall

Case Details

Full title:STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. MICHAEL VAN McDOUGALL

Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina

Date published: Apr 1, 1983

Citations

308 N.C. 1 (N.C. 1983)
301 S.E.2d 308

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