N.C. Gen. Stat. 7a-450(B) and N.C. Gen. Stat. 7a-454
N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-450(b) (2007) provides that "whenever a person . . . is determined to be an indigent person entitled to counsel, it is the responsibility of the State to provide him with counsel and the other necessary expenses of representation."
N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-454 (2007) provides that "fees for the services of an expert witness for an indigent person and other necessary expenses of counsel shall be paid by the State in accordance with rules adopted by the Office of Indigent Defense Services."
In State v. Fletcher, the Court stated that the two aforementioned statutes required "that a private investigator be provided upon a showing by the defendant that there is a reasonable likelihood that it will materially assist the defendant in the preparation of his defense or that without such help more likely than not the defendant will not receive a fair trial." State v. Fletcher, 125 N.C. App. 505, 509-10, 481 S.E.2d 418, 421-22 (1997).
"Caution is to be exercised in the appointment of an investigator, and an investigator should be provided only upon a clear showing that specific evidence is reasonably available and necessary for a proper defense." Id. at 510, 481 S.E.2d at 422.
There is no criminal case in which defense counsel would not welcome an investigator to comb the countryside for favorable evidence.
Thus, such appointment should be made with caution and only upon a clear showing that specific evidence is reasonably available and necessary for a proper defense. Mere hope or suspicion that such evidence is available will not suffice. for a trial judge to proceed otherwise would be to impede the progress of the courts and to saddle the State with needless expense. State v. Tatum, 291 N.C. 73, 82, 229 S.E.2d 562, 568 (1976).
Whether a private investigator should be appointed at the expense of the State to assist an indigent defendant rests in the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be disturbed on appeal absent an abuse of that discretion. Fletcher, 125 N.C. App. at 510, 481 S.E.2d at 422.
"Our courts have ruled that a defendant who chooses to proceed pro se 'does so at his peril and acquires as a matter of right no greater privilege or latitude than would an attorney acting for him.'" State v. Poindexter, 69 N.C. App. 691, 694, 318 S.E.2d 329, 331 (1984)