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Boutier v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

August 26, 2014

BOUTIER
v.
THE STATE

Page 256

Cert. applied for.

Aggravated assault, etc. Fayette Superior Court. Before Judge Crawford.

J. Scott Key, for appellant.

Scott L. Ballard, District Attorney, Robert W. Smith, Jr., Jeremy M. Hayes, Assistant District Attorneys, for appellee.

Boggs and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 257

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

A jury convicted Joel Boutier of aggravated assault and aggravated battery based on evidence that he attacked a fellow inmate at jail. On appeal from the denial of his motion for a new trial, Boutier contends that the trial court erred in declining to charge the jury on the defense of justification and that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

" Following a criminal conviction, the defendant is no longer presumed innocent, and we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict." Flemister v. State, 317 Ga.App. 749 (732 S.E.2d 810) (2012). So viewed, the evidence showed that Boutier and the victim were inmates at the Fayette County jail, where they were housed in a dormitory-style unit and slept a few bunks away from one another. On May 14, 2009, the victim awoke early in the morning, before detention officers had come around the unit to wake up the inmates for the day. The victim routinely got up before the other inmates so that he could wash up in the bathroom before a line formed.

After retrieving his toiletries from the drawer under his bunk, the victim began walking to the bathroom. As the victim passed by Boutier's bunk, Boutier jumped up and began shouting at him for making too much noise. The victim responded that he was not making much noise and that the officers would be waking up the inmates soon anyway. Following his exchange with Boutier, the victim continued to the bathroom and washed up for the day.

After washing up in the bathroom, the victim returned to his bunk bed. Boutier suddenly came over to the victim's bunk and lunged at him with his fists, striking the victim in the jaw. Boutier got behind the victim, grabbed him by the neck, and began scratching and clawing at his face. The victim struggled and tried to break free from Boutier, and both of them fell to the floor. Boutier then stuck his finger in the victim's mouth and ripped the skin around the victim's lip, causing a deep gash. The wound was approximately one-and-a-half inches long and bled profusely. The victim had to receive over ten stitches to repair the damage, and the wound left a permanent scar.

[328 Ga.App. 870] A short while after the attack on the victim, a sheriff's deputy interviewed Boutier in a medical exam room, where a nurse was treating the victim for his injuries and Boutier was waiting to be treated for a " mild abrasion or a cut above one eye in the eyebrow area." Boutier agreed to the interview after being advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694) (1966). During the interview, Boutier told the deputy that he had been having repeated problems with the victim getting up early in the morning, making some noise, and waking him up. According to Boutier, he had asked the jail staff to move him, and in response, the staff had provided him with a bunk further away from the victim but still in the same housing unit. Boutier told the deputy that even after he had been moved to a different bunk, the victim was still waking him up in the mornings, and so he decided he " would take care of the matter" himself because " nothing else [was] going to be done by the staff." Boutier admitted to the deputy that he had " attacked" the victim and had torn his lip area with his finger.

Boutier thereafter was indicted on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery. At the ensuing jury trial,[1] the victim and the sheriff's deputy who interviewed ...


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