In his final
assignment of error, defendant contends that the trial court erred
by allowing Alfred Pickett's pretrial statement into evidence as
corroboration of his testimony because the statement was
inconsistent with Pickett's in-court testimony. Alfred Pickett was a
key witness for the State. Over defendant's objection, Police
Detective Carol Lynch was permitted to read into evidence notes that
she had taken during an interrogation of Pickett prior to trial, as
corroboration of Pickett's testimony. Defendant argues that Lynch
should not have been allowed to read these notes because they
included significant contradictions and a material noncorroborative
addition to the testimony.
testimony and not tending to add weight or credibility to it are not
admissible as corroborative evidence. Additionally, the witness's
prior contradictory statements may not be admitted under the guise
of corroborating his testimony.'" Id. at 450, 368 S.E.2d at 632
(quoting State v. Ramey, 318 N.C. 457, 469, 349 S.E.2d 566, 573-74
(1986)) (emphasis in original).
maintains that there were two discrepancies between Pickett's
testimony and his pretrial statement to Officer Lynch. The first
concerned whether defendant handed Mason the murder weapon just
prior to the shooting. During direct examination and
cross-examination, Pickett testified that he did not see defendant
give Mason the gun prior to the shooting. However, Lynch's notes,
read at trial, indicated that Pickett stated Mason got the gun from
defendant, that defendant had the gun in his pants and then gave it
discrepancy concerned a comment made during an argument among Mason,
Pickett, and defendant on the day following the shooting. Pickett
testified that on 6 November 1992, he accused defendant of acting
wrongly on the previous day by telling Mason what to do. Pickett did
not testify that Mason had said anything to defendant on that date.
However, Lynch's notes indicated that Mason had said, "I shouldn't
have listened to you [defendant)." Defendant argues that this was
significant because Pickett's testimony at trial did not indicate
that Mason had listened or responded to defendant, but the pretrial
statement indicates that Mason was responding to defendant's request
when shooting the victim.
We agree with
defendant that Alfred Pickett's pretrial statement contained
significant discrepancies from his testimony at trial and should not
have been admitted as corroborative evidence. However, we find that
the error was harmless. Prior to Pickett's corroborative statement
being read to the jury,
Date Printed: July 9, 1999
North Carolina Reports
Rodney Arnold had
testified that he saw defendant give Mason the gun during the
argument. Anthony Winchip, a witness for the State, had also
testified that defendant admitted giving the gun to Mason. As to the
second discrepancy complained of, there is overwhelming evidence
that Mason listened to or carried through on defendant's advice to
shoot Shammon Mattocks. Therefore, we conclude that there is no
reasonable possibility that, had the error not occurred, a different
result would have been reached at trial.
In conclusion, we
hold that there was no prejudicial error in defendant's conviction
for first-degree murder and in the imposition of the mandatory
sentence of life imprisonment.
Date Printed: July 9, 1999
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