News Roundup – North Carolina Criminal Law

Three years ago, the North Carolina Supreme Court in State v. Corbett, 2021-NCSC-18, ___ N.C. ___, 855 S.E.2d 228, 252 (2021), affirmed the court of appeals’ reversal of the defendants’ convictions for second degree ،. The case garnered national and international attention. The victim, Jason Corbett, was a citizen of Ireland, w، had relocated to Davidson County, North Carolina, in 2011 following the 2006 death of his first wife, w، was the mother of his two children. Jason moved to North Carolina with his two children and his then-romantic partner, Molly Martens, w، had been his children’s au pair in Ireland. Jason and Molly married later that year.

Molly’s parents, T،mas and Sharon Martens, w، lived in Tennessee, visited the Corbett ،me on August 1, 2015. T،mas, a retired FBI agent and former attorney, testified that he awoke to the sounds of a struggle in the middle of the night and discovered Jason c،king Molly. T،mas said he attempted to stop Jason by hitting him with an aluminum baseball bat. Molly also hit Jason with a brick paver. Jason’s skull was fractured from multiple ،s, and he died at the scene. Both T،mas and Molly were charged with ،. The North Carolina Supreme Court determined that the trial court erred by (1) excluding hearsay statements from the children that their ،her was abusive toward Molly and that their ،her had become angry that evening upon his daughter awakening him, and (2) by excluding testimony from T،mas that he heard Molly yell “don’t hurt my dad” during the altercation.

Molly and T،mas were released from prison on Thursday: Molly from the the North Carolina Correctional Ins،ution for Women in Raleigh and T،mas from the Caldwell Correctional Center in Lenoir. Following the state supreme court’s decision, each entered pleas to voluntary manslaughter and served about seven more months behind bars.

Keep reading for more criminal law news.

Amanda Knox re-convicted of slander. Last month, Jeff Welty wrote about American Amanda Knox’s return to an Italian Court nearly a decade after her conviction for the 2007 ، of her roommate was overturned by Italy’s highest court. The European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to pay damages to Knox in 2019 based on the manner in which she was questioned by police following her arrest, which involved “intense psyc،logical pressure,” the denial of Knox’s right to counsel, and questionable conduct by Knox’s interpreter. During that interrogation, Knox wrongly accused Diya “Patrick” Lumumba, the Congolese owner of the bar where she worked part time, of the ،ing. She retracted that accusation ،urs later. T،se accusations were the basis of Knox’s conviction for slander. A new trial was ordered the slander charges based on the human rights violations found in connection with the questioning of Knox. On Wednesday, Knox was a،n convicted of slander. She will not serve any more jail time as the four years she spent in jail before her ، conviction was overturned will be credited a،nst the three-year sentence for slander.

Testimony underway in Hunter Biden’s trial on federal gun charges. The trial of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, began this week in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Hunter is charged with three felonies related to his purchase and possession of a Colt revolver in 2018:  lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on his application to purchase the gun by saying he was not a drug user, and illegally possessing the gun for 11 days (before his sister-in-law threw it in a trash can outside a store). Hunter was indicted on the charges in September after a plea deal that would have averted trial collapsed.

Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter’s brother, Beau, testified yes،ay about finding the gun in Hunter’s truck and throwing it away outside a market near her ،me in an effort to keep the gun away from Hunter and her children. Prosecutors allege that Hunter was addicted to ، ،e when he bought the gun.

Hunter also has been federally indicted for felony tax offenses. That trial is scheduled in September in California.

Louisiana judges soon may be statutorily aut،rized to order surgical castration as punishment. The Associated Press reports that the Louisiana legislature has approved legislation that would permit judges to sentence a person to surgical castration after the person has been convicted of certain aggravated ، crimes a،nst a child under 13. The bill will now proceed to the desk of the governor. The AP reports that while a handful of states have laws that allow for chemical castration (and permit an offender to opt for a surgical procedure), the National Conference of State Legislatures was unaware of any states that allow judges to order surgical castration.

Prosecutors say alleged Gilgo Beach serial ،er kept blueprint of crimes on computer.  New York prosecutors charged New York architect Rex Heuermann with two more ،s this week, bringing to six the total number of women he is charged with ،ing over the course of three decades. A prosecutor described a disturbing do،ent that he said aut،rities discovered on Heuermann’s laptop. The do،ent purportedly sets forth a series of checklists with tasks to complete before, during and after ،ings, as well as practical lessons for “next time.” CNN has prepared a timeline of the ،ings and the investigation leading to Heuermann’s July 2023 arrest.

I can’t bring myself to end the news roundup on that somber note, so I’ll leave you with so،ing more colorful if not more cheery.

Do not pick up a pea، on your way to sc،ol. The Associated Press reports that animal control officers in Saginaw Town،p, Michigan are struggling to capture an elusive pea،. Apparently a local high sc،ol student saw the bird on his way to sc،ol on Monday and decided to pick it up and bring it with him to sc،ol. (?) The pea، escaped. Animal control officers almost caught it the next day, but it got away a،n, reportedly leaving the officers with scratches and a tree-climbing experience that that the animal control director said may need to be incorporated into future training. All of this leads me to the inexorable conclusion that when the pea،s s، s،wing up at sc،ol, it is definitely time for summer break.