- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The case against a man accused of murdering his infant daughter took another unusual turn Tuesday when North Carolina’s appeals court ruled that a judge shouldn’t have bypassed a jury to find him guilty.

Todd Eric Boderick’s 2016 conviction of first-degree murder represented one of the first homicide trials under a state legal provision allowing defendants to have felony cases heard by a judge alone.

But the appeals court threw out the conviction and ordered a new trial for the Charlotte man, finding the trial judge had incorrectly applied that law.

Boderick was representing himself in 2016 when he agreed to have the case heard by the judge alone. He had fired multiple court-appointed lawyers after calling them liars, refusing to attend meetings and cursing at one in open court, according to court documents.

Problems with the case continued at jury selection when a prospective juror abruptly declared that Boderick had robbed her boyfriend, causing an audible gasp from other jurors. A mistrial was declared.

The judge, who had refused a previous request by Boderick for a bench trial, then reconsidered the possibility and all parties agreed to proceed without a jury. The judge convicted Boderick and sentenced him to life in prison.

Boderick, who was also found guilty of felony child abuse, later appealed.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that a 2014 state constitutional amendment allowing felony defendants to choose a trial by judge alone hadn’t taken effect in time for Boderick’s case. The three appeals judges found that defendants can opt out of a jury trial only if they were arraigned after the amendment’s effective date of Dec. 1, 2014. Boderick was arraigned in 2012.

Prosecutors unsuccessfully argued that the key date was when Boderick agreed to a bench trial in 2016 - after the constitutional amendment took effect.

The state attorney general’s office was reviewing the appeals court ruling, spokeswoman Laura Brewer said.

Boderick was charged with killing his 6-month-old daughter after authorities found her unresponsive in October 2012 in a hotel where they had been living, along with the child’s mother, according to court documents. The medical examiner said the child died from brain injuries consistent with severe shaking.

Boderick, 31, has argued that the evidence didn’t prove that he caused the fatal injuries. He’s been serving his sentence in a state prison southeast of Charlotte.

North Carolina was among the last states to allow felony defendants to waive their right to jury trial when voters approved the constitutional amendment in 2014.


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