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Bettis v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 10, 2014

BETTIS
v.
THE STATE

Waiver of counsel. Richmond Superior Court. Before Judge Brown.

Jessica I. Benjamin , Michael N. Brooks, for appellant.

Ashley Wright , District Attorney, Joshua B. Smith , Charles R. Sheppard , Assistant District Attorneys, for appellee.

RAY, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Dillard, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 571

Ray, Judge.

A Richmond County jury found Roger Bettis guilty of two counts of aggravated assault (OCGA § 16-5-21), and one count each of criminal attempt to commit rape (OCGA § 16-4-1), kidnapping (OCGA § 16-5-40), and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime (OCGA § 16-11-106). He appeals from his convictions and the denial of his motion for new trial, contending (1) that the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to exercise his constitutional right to self-representation and (2) that his trial counsel was ineffective. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse.

Viewed in a light most favorable to the jury's verdict,[1] the evidence showed that on the evening of June 3, 2009, M. S. was beaten [328 Ga.App. 168] by an assailant while she was in the ladies' room at MCG Hospital in Augusta. M. S., whose husband was a patient at the hospital, went to the restroom on the fourth floor and entered a stall. Shortly thereafter, a man came into the bathroom, entered an adjacent stall, and climbed over the top of the stall and began choking M. S. The next thing M. S. remembered was a man's voice telling her that she was going to be okay.

During the assault, another woman, T. K., entered the bathroom. T. K. heard a sound like a woman moaning and then encountered a man whose pants were down and whose boxer shorts were exposed. The man pulled out a knife and, after threatening to cut her and kill her, backed T. K. into a stall and ordered her to shut the door and be quiet. After the man left, she sought help. In a pre-trial photographic lineup and then at trial, T. K. identified Bettis as the man she had seen in the bathroom.

As a result of the assault, M. S. lost several teeth and suffered a dislocated jaw, heavy bruising around her eyes, and a lacerated lip, among other injuries. In the ladies' bathroom,

Page 572

an investigator found a pool of blood and blood smears on the floor, the toilet, the toilet tissue dispenser, and the walls of the stall. The investigator also recovered a pair of women's underwear " balled up and stuffed under the toilet bowl."

Using the hospital's surveillance video, police identified a suspect. Footage of the suspect, who was wearing a white T-shirt and " long black ... shorts" was provided to the media. Two days following the incident, an anonymous telephone caller advised police that Bettis was the man in the video. Police then went to the residence where Bettis was staying and interviewed Bettis's mother, who told an investigator that Bettis was the man depicted in the video footage.

Police collected clothing from the bedroom where Bettis had been keeping his belongings, including a pair of shorts. Bettis's mother told the officers that the shorts belonged to Bettis and that he had worn them on the night of the attack. There were blood stains on the shorts. A forensic biologist with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ...


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