Brian Minton appeals 2008 murder conviction
Brian Gregory Minton, who was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Joshua Bailey, has appealed his conviction saying the case against him was weak and prosecutors bolstered it by using inadmissible character evidence.
"Without this inadmissible evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that the jury would have reached a different verdict, or that the improperly admitted evidence probably affected the verdict," the appeal concluded. "The Defendant is entitled to a new trial on all charges."
Minton was found guilty in May 2012 of killing Bailey on July 29, 2008. Evidence in his trial showed that Minton and a group of people in their teens and 20s hung around together, and some of them had committed some crimes together.
Testimony and evidence during the trial showed that the group came to suspect that one of their group, Matt Johnson, had been talking to police about some of their illegal activities. When confronted with their suspicions, Matt Johnson pointed the finger at Bailey as the snitch.
On July 29, 2008, after a confrontation in a garage at Minton's home on Smith Level Road in Chapel Hill, Minton drove Bailey and some of the other members of the group out to a house northwest of Carrboro, and carrying shovels, they walked him back into the woods.
According to some testimony, it was Minton who gave the order that Johnson had to shoot and kill Bailey since Johnson had brought him into the group. Matt Johnson fired the gun and killed Bailey.
In the appeal, it states that the trial court erred by allowing testimony about a home invasion in Greensboro before the murder and about an incident in a commercial garage in Pittsboro in which Johnson was beaten up, threatened and kidnapped.
Under a North Carolina statute, commonly referred to as 404(b), evidence of other crimes is not admissible to prove the character of a person.
Minton, in his appeal, argued that the home invasion in Greensboro was very different than the murder in Orange County, the appeal states. No one was tied or duct-taped in Greensboro, as Bailey was. The people who were robbed were strangers, and Bailey was not, and no one interrogated anyone in Greensboro like Bailey and Matt Johnson were interrogated, the appeal states.
"Perhaps most significantly, Josh Bailey was not a part of the Greensboro activities, and in fact there was no evidence that Josh even knew about this event," the appeal states.
The incident at the commercial garage in Pittsboro occurred after the murder, on Aug. 17, 2008, and that too was different than Bailey's murder, the appeal states. Before Bailey was killed, there was no evidence that Minton hit him, but during the incident at the garage, there was testimony that Minton hit Johnson, the appeal stated.
"The defendant was prejudiced by the improper admission of both pieces of 404(b) evidence," the appeal states. "The state's strongest evidence was that Matt Johnson was the killer."
"The impermissible character evidence was used to bolster the shaky and inconsistent testimony from the state's cooperating witnesses, and to suggest to the jury that Brian Minton was a person of such bad character that he would likely be the ringleader of a plot to kill Josh Bailey," the appeal states.
The appeal also claims the judge erred when he allowed testimony about a police report that named Brian Minton as the suspect in a break-in.
In addition the court erred when the prosecutor was allowed to elicit testimony from witnesses that Minton's family was dangerous.
The appeal concludes that faced with overwhelming evidence that Minton did not shoot Bailey, the state sought to portray Minton as a violent person of generally bad character and that he served as the ringleader of the group responsible for Josh Bailey's death.
The appeal was submitted by attorney Franklin E. Wells Jr., of Asheboro.