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The North Carolina Supreme Court reinstated a man’s murder and robbery convictions in the death of his co-worker on Friday, reversing an appellate ruling that had declared the circumstantial evidence at trial was too weak for guilty verdicts.

A divided panel of the state Court of Appeals last August had vacated the 2019 convictions of David Myron Dover in the 2016 stabbing death of 79-year-old Arthur “Buddy” Davis in Kannapolis. Dover and Davis worked at the same automobile sales store. Their boss found Davis in his home, stabbed more than a dozen times. Dover was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In a 5-2 ruling, the state’s highest court said the trial judge had been right to deny Dover’s motion to dismiss the case after prosecutors presented their evidence.

According to court opinions, Dover had a substance abuse problem and had asked his girlfriend to look in a trash can near his house for about $3,000 in cash to help him post bail on a charge unrelated to Davis. Evidence from cellphone records also shows his phone was in the vicinity of Davis’ home, even as Dover told police initially he had been at home the night before Davis was found dead.

“Here substantial evidence supports the reasonable inference that defendant murdered the victim and took $3,000” from Davis, Chief Justice Paul Newby wrote in the majority opinion. The evidence also was sufficient to infer that Dover had gone to Davis’ home that night, Newby wrote, and case law establishes that when an accused person makes conflicting statements about a crime, it may be considered a circumstance of someone “possessed of a guilty conscience” seeking to divert suspicion.

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