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Appellant Antonio Faust was convicted for various crimes related to the 2013 kidnapping of Michael Pippins and the shooting death of David McMillan, III. Appellant’s sole enumeration of error is that the State failed to prove venue beyond a reasonable doubt in regard to the crimes appellant committed against Pippins. The Georgia Supreme Court determined the jury was authorized to infer that a DeKalb County Officer who responded to the 911 call, and DeKalb County Officer who was the lead investigator of the crimes against Pippins, acted within the scope of their territorial jurisdiction. Accordingly, sufficient evidence existed for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the crimes against Pippins were committed in DeKalb County. As such, venue was proper, and Faust's conviction was affirmed. View "Faust v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Marvin Manning was charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, and other offenses arising out of the shooting death of Jimmy Sims. The jury found Manning not guilty of malice murder but found him guilty of the remaining charges. According to appellant, because the trial court lumped all the charges against him together when instructing the jury on how to determine guilt or innocence, and did not instruct the jury to make a separate determination regarding guilt or innocence with respect to each of the counts against him, the instructions were confusing and harmful, and were erroneous as a matter of law. Viewing the charges as a whole, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded the manner in which the trial court instructed the jury was not confusing with respect to whether the jury was to make a determination of guilt on each individual count of the indictment, and thus the Court found the instruction was not erroneous. This was further evidenced by the fact that the jury found appellant not guilty of malice murder as charged in Count 1 of the indictment but found him guilty on the remaining counts. Accordingly, appellant failed to establish that the alleged error in the jury instruction as a whole likely affected the outcome of the proceedings. View "Manning v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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James Brock appealed the denial of his mandamus petition seeking records related to his murder convictions. The Georgia Supreme Court determined it had jurisdiction over the appeal arising from this civil action: "[w]e conclude that this appeal arises from an extraordinary remedies case 'concerning proceedings in which a sentence of death was imposed or could be imposed,' and thus we have jurisdiction under OCGA 15-3-3.1(a)(4)." Nevertheless, Brock’s appeal had to be dismissed for failure to file a discretionary application as OCGA 42-12-8 required for civil cases filed by prisoners. View "Brock v. Hardman" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted a certificate of probable cause in a habeas corpus action to determine whether the habeas court erred in ruling that certain claims alleged in Andre Gordon’s petition for habeas corpus were foreclosed from habeas review. In 2008, a jury found Gordon guilty of child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, rape, and incest in connection with crimes he committed in June and July of 2000. Although the State had originally indicted Gordon in December 2006 only for child molestation, the State nolle prossed that indictment in October 2007 and re-indicted Gordon the following day, adding counts of aggravated sexual battery, rape, and incest. All of the new counts still concerned the June and July 2000 criminal activity against the same victim. The aggravated sexual battery and incest counts were subject to a seven-year statute of limitations, and a fifteen-year statute of limitations applied to the rape count. On direct appeal, Gordon argued that the statute of limitations had run on the aggravated sexual battery count and that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the indictment on that ground. The Court of Appeals found that the substantive statute of limitations issue was procedurally barred because trial counsel had not moved to demure, quash, or dismiss that count at trial. The Court of Appeals also refused to reach the merits of the related ineffective assistance claim because Gordon’s appellate filings contained no supporting record citations. Another claim by Gordon on direct appeal was that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his rape conviction. The Supreme Court granted Gordon’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal, and requested the parties address two issues: (1) whether the habeas court erred in finding that the statute of limitations issue addressed in Claims Two and Six of the underlying petition was foreclosed from review in habeas; and (2) whether the habeas court erred in finding that the claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel underlying the claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel presented in Claim Four of the underlying petition had been resolved adversely to petitioner in his direct appeal. Because the Supreme Court concluded that some of those claims were not foreclosed, it vacated the judgment in part and remanded to the habeas court to consider them. View "Gordon v. Caldwell" on Justia Law

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Kevin Puckett was found guilty by jury of malice murder, felony murder, and family violence aggravated assault in connection with the shooting death of his father, Luther. On appeal, Puckett contended that the trial court erred: (1) by allowing a photograph of certain books to be admitted into evidence at trial; and (2) in allowing improper bolstering of the statements of a State’s witness at trial. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Puckett v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Stephen Johnson was indicted in 2013 for felony murder and drug conspiracy. He challenged the trial court’s order denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to felony murder. Appellant claims that his plea was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary because he was intoxicated when he entered it and that the trial court applied an erroneous standard of review in ruling on his motion. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Johnson v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Michael Jordan was convicted of felony murder and related offenses arising out of the shooting death of Stacy Johnson and the aggravated assaults of Rodney Miles and Shatik Bryant. On appeal, Jordan argued: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdicts; (2) the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence; (3) he was entitled to a mistrial; and (4) that the trial court should have granted his motion for new trial. Though the Georgia Supreme Court found no reversible error, it did find error in certain aspects of Jordan's sentence. The Court vacated and remanded for resentencing. View "Jordan v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Maurice Thomas was tried by a jury and convicted of murder and other crimes in connection with the fatal shooting of Eugene Grier. Thomas appealed, contending that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel when his lawyer opened the door and failed to object to evidence of a statement made by his codefendant, which, Thomas says, violated Bruton v. United States, 391 U. S. 123 (1968). Finding no such violation or other reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Thomas' conviction. View "Thomas v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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In 1995, Barry Davis pled guilty to aggravated sodomy against his six-year-old daughter and was sentenced to ten years with two to serve in confinement. After the enactment of OCGA 42-1-12 in 1996, he was required to register for life as a sex offender upon his release on probation. After his release from prison, Davis’ probation terminated on July 15, 2005. On February 13, 2013, Davis obtained a pardon from the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Shortly after receiving the pardon, Davis moved to North Carolina without providing notice within 72 hours to the Chatham County Sheriff as required of sex offenders by OCGA 42-1-12 (f) (5). He was indicted for violation of that Code section by “fail[ing] to update his address, required registration information, with the Sheriff of Chatham County. . . within 72 hours prior to such change of residence . . . .” He filed a general demurrer to the indictment for failure to charge a criminal offense, contending that the requirement to register as a sex offender was removed by the pardon. The trial court found that, in the absence of express language in the Board’s decree, Davis’ pardon did not release him from the obligation to register as a sex offender. It therefore denied the general demurrer. The Georgia Supreme Court granted this petition for certiorari to consider two questions: (1) whether the Georgia Supreme Court’s constitutional question jurisdiction was invoked by the issue of the authority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles to remove the requirements imposed upon sex offenders by OCGA 42-1-12 under its constitutional power “to remove disabilities imposed by law;” and (2) if yes, then whether the trial court erred in concluding that the registration and reporting requirements of that Code section were not a “disability” within the meaning of the Board’s constitutional powers, and therefore denying Davis’ general demurrer. The Supreme Court answered both questions in the affirmative, therefore finding it had to vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals, decide the constitutional claims presented by this petition, and reverse the trial court’s judgment. View "Georgia v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault, for which Defendant received two concurrent forty-year sentences. On appeal, the Court held that the trial justice did not err by (1) refusing to the testimony of Natalie Kissoon, M.D. in its entirety for lack of foundation; (2) refusing to grant Defendant’s motion to pass the case after Dr. Kissoon testified that the victim’s disclosures were consistent with sexual abuse; and (3) denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence. View "State v. Rathbun" on Justia Law