A Granite Falls man who was convicted of a felony for barging into a man’s home and beating him had his conviction overturned by the N.C. Court of Appeals.
Because of rulings made by the Superior Court judge in the case, Zachary Dallas McDaris, 25, can be convicted only of a misdemeanor, the appeals court said.
McDaris was convicted last August of first-degree burglary in a break-in at the home of Roy Michael “Mike” Ridenhour, 63, of Lake Park Drive south of Granite Falls. McDaris, who has said he had been drinking heavily at the time and does not remember the incident, went to Ridenhour’s home about 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2018, and banged on his door. When Ridenhour answered the door, McDaris told him, “I’m your savior. You’re going to hell for your sins,” forced his way into the house, and the two struggled. At one point McDaris rammed Ridehour in the chest and knocked him down a stairwell into his basement, where he landed hard on the cement floor and was knocked unconscious.
In a ruling issued on Tuesday, the Court of Appeals said that Judge Daniel Kuehnert made a mistake when he denied a request by defense attorney Joe Delk IV to dismiss the burglary charge.
In order to be convicted of first-degree burglary, a person has to break into a residence with the intent of committing a felony or a larceny inside.
Delk argued that prosecutors could not prove that McDaris intended to commit a felony or steal anything, and therefore first-degree burglary was not the correct charge.
But Kuehnert agreed with Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jennings, who argued that the felony McDaris intended to commit was breaking and entering with intent to terrorize or injure. Kuehnert found McDaris guilty of first-degree burglary and sentenced him to six months in prison and five years of supervised probation.
But the appeals court said that the reasoning makes no sense because the breaking and entering charge must be distinct from the crime that the person intended to commit once inside the house, so it would mean that McDaris broke into Ridenhour’s house with the intent of breaking into another house inside.
The ruling indicated that McDaris could have been charged and convicted of breaking and entering with intent to terrorize or injure, but there was no basis for first-degree burglary.
The court reversed McDaris’ conviction and sent the case back to Caldwell Superior Court for McDaris to be sentenced on a charge of misdemeanor breaking and entering.
Delk said Tuesday that McDaris’ conviction had bothered him.
“We’re relieved the Court of Appeals agreed that he shouldn’t have been convicted of … first-degree burglary,” he said.
Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.