The N.C. Court of Appeals has denied an evidence appeal for a Marion man convicted in a 2015 counterfeit money trial, but did vacate his attorney fees due to insufficient discussion.
In August 2017, a McDowell jury convicted 34-year-old Jeffery Daniel Waycaster of Marion with possession or transportation of five or more counterfeit instruments, while the defendant pleaded guilty to being a habitual felon. He was sentenced to 102 to 135 months in prison consecutive to any previous judgments and was ordered pay a court-appointed attorney $1,680.
During the same trial, Waycaster was also found not guilty of forging and counterfeiting currency.
During the summer of 2015, McDowell County sheriff’s deputies received numerous reports of bogus money being passed at local businesses. On Sept. 28 the same year, Waycaster was stopped on Tate Street driving a reportedly stolen vehicle.
According to Detective Billie Brown, authorities searched the car and located 11 pages of fake, uncut $20 bills. This finding led to an extensive, months-long investigation and the arrest of other potential suspects, including 33-year-old Jimmy Eugene Lowery Jr. of Old Fort, 29-year-old Justin Ray Rector of Marion and 35-year-old April Christine Evans of Marion.
Prior to the arrest, Waycaster and his girlfriend, Evans, were living with a male acquaintance in his home. The homeowner came home early from work one day and found Evans in the living room copying $20 bills on his printer, according to District Attorney Ted Bell.
Waycaster subsequently told officers that he knew Evans learned how to counterfeit the money from someone they previously lived with.
After discovering the counterfeiting, the homeowner told the two to leave, after which Waycaster took the man’s car to go to the hospital and did not return it. The homeowner reported this to the Sheriff’s Office, who located Waycaster with the vehicle and the pages of fake bills.
Waycaster told authorities that another suspect, Jimmy Lowery, had left the pages in the car.
During the trial, the jury determined that Waycaster did not join Evans in creating the counterfeit bills nor was he actively present at the time the act was committed and found him not guilty on the counterfeiting charge.
According to an NC Court of Appeals decision, the defense attempted to appeal on the terms that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss for insufficiency of the evidence and by awarding $1,680 in attorney’s fees without giving the defendant an opportunity to be heard.
In their decision, the court dismissed the argument of insufficient evidence by suggesting that evidence provided was sufficient for the jury to infer that Waycaster was in possession of the counterfeit money while operating the car and had used it to purchase meth two days before his arrest, as well as the discovery of a sheet of with two bills removed found in the back pocket of the driver’s seat, tending to show that some counterfeit money had been used.
“There is a reasonable inference from these acts that Defendant used or intended to use five or more counterfeit instruments with the intent to injure or defraud,” said the court in their decision.
However, the court determined that, through exchanges on record between the trial court and the defendant’s court-appointed counsel, that Waycaster was not consulted prior to awarding the $1,680 attorney’s fees and, as a result, vacated the trial court’s award of the fees and remand for a new hearing on that issue.