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When police officers went to Defendant Sylvia Garcia’s house to do a welfare check on a child, they found an elderly woman in distress on the living room floor. They noticed a padlock on the refrigerator in the kitchen and feces and bugs throughout the house. Medical personnel, additional police officers, firefighters, and a building inspector were called to the residence. Garcia made several statements to the officers at the house, including that she was a caretaker of the elderly woman (her mother) and that the padlock was to keep her brother from eating food in the refrigerator. Garcia was later charged with two offenses relating to neglect of her mother and one count of child abuse. The trial court granted Garcia’s motion to suppress the statements she made during this encounter with the police at her house, concluding Garcia had been subjected to custodial interrogation and had not received a Miranda advisement. The State appealed that order. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded Garcia was not in custody for Miranda purposes during the encounter, and as such, reversed the trial court’s order suppressing the statements. View "Colorado v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for murder in the first degree and aggravated rape and declined to exercise its extraordinary power under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E to reduce the verdict in this case arising from a reopened investigation into a previously unsolved murder. The court held (1) challenged statements made by the prosecutor during closing argument did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; and (2) because there was no error in the prosecutor’s statements during closing argument, Defendant failed in his argument that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the improper statements in the prosecutor’s closing. View "Commonwealth v. Diaz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to exclude the results of a breathalyzer test taken by the Alcotest 7110 MK III-C at his trial for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In an earlier appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court remanded this case to the district court to conduct a hearing on the scientific reliability of the Alcotest. After a hearing, the district court concluded that the Alcotest was capable for producing scientifically reliable breath test results and denied Defendant’s motion to exclude this evidence. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district judge did not abuse his discretion in finding that the Alcotest satisfies the Daubert-Lanigan standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence. View "Commonwealth v. Camblin" on Justia Law

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A jury found Randall Jones guilty of bringing stolen property into the State of Georgia and theft by conversion of the same property. The Court of Appeals rejected Jones’ claim that the two verdicts were mutually exclusive. Because the verdicts for theft by conversion and theft by bringing stolen property into the state were indeed mutually exclusive here, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded reversal of both verdicts was required. View "Jones v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Donnie Forte of murder and kidnapping (amongst other crimes). He appealed, arguing the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain his convictions. Furthermore, Forte argued the trial court erred in instructing the jury on malice murder. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Forte’s convictions. View "Forte v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Following the denial of his motion for new trial, as amended, Herman Smith appealed his convictions for felony murder while in the commission of aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and carrying a weapon without a license, all in connection with the 2012 fatal shooting of Cardarius Steagall and an assault of Chaserah Horton. Smith argued on appeal that the trial court erred by refusing to grant a mistrial, and erred in two of its evidentiary rulings. Finding the challenges to be without merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Frank Bozzie was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2013 death of Richard Morgan. Bozzie appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support his malice murder conviction, the trial court made numerous evidentiary errors, he should have been granted a new trial due to alleged juror misconduct, he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and the trial court erred in refusing to secure his attendance for the motion for new trial hearing. Because none of these claims had merit, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Bozzie’s convictions. View "Bozzie v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Orlando Smith was convicted of felony murder and related offenses in connection with the 2010 shooting death of Demetra Smith . On appeal, Smith argued: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by: failing to suppress illegally obtained evidence; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial; and (4) the trial court erred in allowing inadmissible hearsay pursuant to the necessity exception. Finding no error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Paul Manner was convicted of malice murder and related offenses in connection with the 2013 shooting death of Tracey Kingcannon. On appeal, Manner contended his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by withdrawing a request for a jury charge on the requirement for evidence corroborating accomplice testimony, and by failing to introduce evidence of the confessions of two of the State’s witnesses to an earlier aggravated assault on the victim. Manner also contended the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on impeachment by prior conviction related to a first offender guilty plea by on State witness was plain error; or, in the alternative, his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to preserve her objection to the court’s denial of her request for that instruction. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court determined counsel’s strategic decision to withdraw her request for an accomplice corroboration instruction was not objectively unreasonable under the circumstances of this case. Similarly, counsel’s decision to rely on testimony about the State’s witnesses’ involvement in and confessions to an earlier aggravated assault on the victim, rather than seeking to admit the witnesses’ written statements, fell within the broad range of reasonable trial strategy. And the Supreme Court found no error in the trial court’s refusal to give the instruction on impeachment by prior conviction, and thus, no deficiency in counsel’s failure to make a specific objection on this issue after the jury instructions were given. The Court did, however, find the trial court erred in merging the two felony murder verdicts into the malice murder verdict, when the felony murder convictions should have been vacated by operation of law. View "Manner v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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Appellant Lawrence Womac appealed his convictions and sentences for aggravated sexual battery, child molestation, cruelty to children in the first degree, and false imprisonment. On appeal, Womac argued, among other things, that his life sentence for aggravated sexual battery constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Georgia Constitution. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirm. View "Womac v. Georgia" on Justia Law