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North Carolina v. Robinson

5/6/1994

MEYER, Justice.


On 17 March 1986, defendant, Dwight Lamont Robinson, was indicted by a Guilford County grand jury for the first-degree murder of Robert Page and for robbery with a dangerous weapon. On 6 April 1987, defendant was also indicted for two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury upon Gene Hill and Tammy Cotner. The offenses were joined for trial. On 17 September 1987, the jury returned verdicts of guilty of first-degree murder on the basis of malice, premeditation, and deliberation and under the felony murder rule. The jury also found defendant guilty of robbery with a dangerous weapon, and guilty on both counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. Following a sentencing proceeding pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-2000, the jury recommended and the trial court, on 22 September 1987, imposed the sentence of death in the first-degree murder case. Defendant was also sentenced to forty years for the robbery with a dangerous weapon conviction and twenty years each for the two convictions of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.


On defendant's direct appeal, this Court affirmed the convictions for first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, but vacated the death sentence because of McKoy error, and the case was remanded for a new capital sentencing proceeding. State v. Robinson, 330 N.C. 1, 409 S.E.2d 288 (1991). At the new sentencing proceeding, conducted at the 18 May 1992 Special Criminal Session of Superior Court, Guilford County, the jurors returned a recommendation of death. Judge Thomas W. Ross, in accordance with the jury's recommendation, imposed a sentence of death.


Defendant has brought forth fifty-four assignments of error. After a careful and thorough review of the transcript, the record, the briefs, and oral arguments of counsel, we conclude that defendant received a fair resentencing hearing, free of prejudicial error.


Except where necessary to develop and determine the issues presented to this Court arising from defendant's resentencing hearing, we will not repeat the evidence supporting defendant's convictions, as that evidence is summarized in our prior opinion on defendant's direct appeal.


JURY SELECTION ISSUES


Defendant contends that his constitutional right to a jury selected without regard to race was violated by the prosecutor's discriminatory use of peremptory strikes against potential jurors of African-American descent. In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69, 106 S. Ct. 1712 (1986), the Supreme Court of the United States set forth a three-step process to determine if a prosecutor has impermissibly excluded jurors because of their race. First, a criminal defendant must make out a prima facie case of racial discrimination by the prosecutor in the exercise of peremptory challenges. Robinson, 330 N.C. at 15, 409 S.E.2d at 296.


In this case, the prosecutor voluntarily gave reasons for the dismissal of each of the jurors in question. Accordingly, we need not address the question of whether defendant has made a prima facie showing of discrimination and may proceed as if defendant has met this burden. See id. at 17, 409 S.E.2d at 296.


The second step in a determination of whether the State has used its peremptory challenges in a discriminatory manner requires the State to "articulate legitimate reasons which are clear and reas

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