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David Leeks appealed his convictions for malice murder and other charges stemming from the robbery and fatal shooting of a Fulton County convenience store clerk, Zerit Haileslasie. Leeks argued his convictions should have been reversed because the trial court committed plain error in charging the jury: (1) on the concept of party to a crime; and (2) that the jury may consider an identification witness’s level of certainty in assessing the reliability of the identification. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court found no reversible error with respect to the jury instructions and affirmed Leeks' convictions. View "Leeks v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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David Leeks appealed his convictions for malice murder and other charges stemming from the robbery and fatal shooting of a Fulton County convenience store clerk, Zerit Haileslasie. Leeks argued his convictions should have been reversed because the trial court committed plain error in charging the jury: (1) on the concept of party to a crime; and (2) that the jury may consider an identification witness’s level of certainty in assessing the reliability of the identification. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court found no reversible error with respect to the jury instructions and affirmed Leeks' convictions. View "Leeks v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Terrance Dent appealed his convictions and sentences for felony murder while in the commission of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, as well as the denial of his motion for new trial, as amended, all in connection with the shooting death of Jevon Freeman. Dent challenged the sufficiency and weight of the evidence, the failure to charge the jury on voluntary manslaughter in accordance with Edge v. Georgia, 414 SE2d 463 (1992), and the effectiveness of his trial counsel. Finding the challenges to be without merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Dent v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Terrance Dent appealed his convictions and sentences for felony murder while in the commission of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, as well as the denial of his motion for new trial, as amended, all in connection with the shooting death of Jevon Freeman. Dent challenged the sufficiency and weight of the evidence, the failure to charge the jury on voluntary manslaughter in accordance with Edge v. Georgia, 414 SE2d 463 (1992), and the effectiveness of his trial counsel. Finding the challenges to be without merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Dent v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Brian Malverty appealed the denial of his motion for an out-of-time appeal. He was indicted in 1985 for murder, felony murder, and related offenses in connection with the deaths of Charles West and Rickey Sims. In December 1986, Malverty pled guilty to two counts of felony murder and was sentenced to concurrent life terms. In January 2016, Malverty filed a motion for an out-of-time appeal of his guilty plea, but the motion was denied; Malverty filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. Malverty argued he was entitled to an out-of-time appeal because, he argued, the September 1985 indictment was defective. The Georgia Supreme Court found this argument was without merit. He also claimed the trial court failed to rule on a succession of motions he filed; the Supreme Court determined the only judicial remedy for the trial court's alleged violation of OCGA 15-6-21 was an application for mandamus relief. View "Malverty v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Brian Malverty appealed the denial of his motion for an out-of-time appeal. He was indicted in 1985 for murder, felony murder, and related offenses in connection with the deaths of Charles West and Rickey Sims. In December 1986, Malverty pled guilty to two counts of felony murder and was sentenced to concurrent life terms. In January 2016, Malverty filed a motion for an out-of-time appeal of his guilty plea, but the motion was denied; Malverty filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. Malverty argued he was entitled to an out-of-time appeal because, he argued, the September 1985 indictment was defective. The Georgia Supreme Court found this argument was without merit. He also claimed the trial court failed to rule on a succession of motions he filed; the Supreme Court determined the only judicial remedy for the trial court's alleged violation of OCGA 15-6-21 was an application for mandamus relief. View "Malverty v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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This case raised a question of whether Alexander v. Georgia, 772 SE2d 655 (2015), could be applied retroactively. The Georgia Supreme Court held that an attorney’s failure to counsel his client about parole eligibility may give rise to a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Teresa Lynn Kohnle pleaded guilty to felony murder in December 2010, before Alexander was decided, but after the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. 356 (2010), on which the Georgia Court relied in deciding Alexander. Sentenced to life in prison, Kohnle filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that her plea counsel was ineffective in several ways, including that he failed to inform her of the parole eligibility implications of a life sentence. The habeas court granted Kohnle’s petition, relying on Alexander to conclude that Kohnle’s counsel had rendered ineffective assistance. The Warden appealed, arguing that the habeas court erred in applying Alexander retroactively. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the Warden that the habeas court erred by applying Alexander to find that plea counsel performed deficiently by failing to advise Kohnle that she would not be eligible for parole for 30 years if she pleaded guilty, and thus the Court vacated the habeas court’s order. But the Court remanded for the habeas court to consider Kohnle’s claim that counsel was deficient for affirmatively misinforming her about parole eligibility matters, something the Court had held could support a claim of ineffective assistance long before Kohnle entered her plea. View "Kennedy v. Kohnle" on Justia Law

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This case raised a question of whether Alexander v. Georgia, 772 SE2d 655 (2015), could be applied retroactively. The Georgia Supreme Court held that an attorney’s failure to counsel his client about parole eligibility may give rise to a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Teresa Lynn Kohnle pleaded guilty to felony murder in December 2010, before Alexander was decided, but after the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. 356 (2010), on which the Georgia Court relied in deciding Alexander. Sentenced to life in prison, Kohnle filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that her plea counsel was ineffective in several ways, including that he failed to inform her of the parole eligibility implications of a life sentence. The habeas court granted Kohnle’s petition, relying on Alexander to conclude that Kohnle’s counsel had rendered ineffective assistance. The Warden appealed, arguing that the habeas court erred in applying Alexander retroactively. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the Warden that the habeas court erred by applying Alexander to find that plea counsel performed deficiently by failing to advise Kohnle that she would not be eligible for parole for 30 years if she pleaded guilty, and thus the Court vacated the habeas court’s order. But the Court remanded for the habeas court to consider Kohnle’s claim that counsel was deficient for affirmatively misinforming her about parole eligibility matters, something the Court had held could support a claim of ineffective assistance long before Kohnle entered her plea. View "Kennedy v. Kohnle" on Justia Law

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Appellant Cassandra Norwood appealed her convictions for crimes related to the death of her newborn child, Josiah Lucas Norwood. Appellant attempted to conceal the child's birth; a sister, who happened to be a trained nurse, discovered a garbage bag filled with bedding in a corner of appellant's room. Trying to dismiss the amount of blood as associated with her menstrual cycle, the sister insisted appellant go to the hospital due to the "abnormal" amount of blood. Once away, the sister discovered a newborn baby, placenta and umbilical cord inside the bag. In her sole enumeration, Appellant alleged the trial court erred by admitting her two statements made to law enforcement officers. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Norwood v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Cassandra Norwood appealed her convictions for crimes related to the death of her newborn child, Josiah Lucas Norwood. Appellant attempted to conceal the child's birth; a sister, who happened to be a trained nurse, discovered a garbage bag filled with bedding in a corner of appellant's room. Trying to dismiss the amount of blood as associated with her menstrual cycle, the sister insisted appellant go to the hospital due to the "abnormal" amount of blood. Once away, the sister discovered a newborn baby, placenta and umbilical cord inside the bag. In her sole enumeration, Appellant alleged the trial court erred by admitting her two statements made to law enforcement officers. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Norwood v. Georgia" on Justia Law