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Stevens v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

August 29, 2014

STEVENS
v.
THE STATE

Reconsideration denied September 19, 2014.

Effective assistance of counsel. Douglas Superior Court. Before Judge McClain.

Bryan R. Howard, for appellant.

Brian K. Fortner, District Attorney, James A. Dooley, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

MILLER, Judge. Doyle, P. J., and Dillard, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 834

Miller, Judge.

Following a jury trial, Valman Onelli Reginald Stevens was convicted of enticing a child for indecent purposes (OCGA § 16-6-5 (a)).[1] Stevens appeals from the denial of his motion for new trial, contending that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. For the reasons that follow, we affirm Stevens's conviction.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,[2] the evidence shows that on September 30, 2008, Stevens, who was 24 years old, drove the 15-year-old victim to Jesse Davis Park in Douglas County. Around midnight, Douglasville police officers Holbrook and Gruber responded to a call from park security about a suspicious vehicle parked on a dead-end road with the lights turned down. The officers proceeded to that location with their patrol car lights turned off. Officer Gruber approached the suspicious vehicle -- a Ford Taurus -- from the front, while Officer Holbrook pulled in behind it. The officers then turned on their headlights, exited their patrol cars and approached the Taurus.

The officers saw Stevens and the victim pulling their pants up. Stevens was in the driver's seat and the victim was in the front passenger seat. Officer Holbrook also saw a couple of half-empty bottles of Heineken beer, a Smirnoff beverage, and an open condom wrapper in the back of the Taurus.

Page 835

Officer Gruber removed Stevens from the Taurus, asked him what he was doing, and obtained his consent to search the vehicle. During the search, Officer Gruber found a semiautomatic handgun. Officer Gruber asked Stevens where the condom was, and he replied that he was wearing the condom in preparation to have sex with the victim. Stevens then removed the condom from his penis and threw it on the ground.

During trial, Stevens entered into several stipulations with the State which were read to the jury: (1) that the victim's date of birth was March 29, 1993; (2) that the victim was 15 years of age at the time of the offense; (3) that Stevens's date of birth was November 23, 1983; (4) that Stevens was 24 years of age at the time of the offense; and (5) that Stevens drove the victim to Jesse Davis Park in Douglas County.

In his sole enumeration of error, Stevens contends that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. Specifically, Stevens argues [329 Ga.App. 92] that defense counsel was deficient for failing to interview the victim, agreeing to the stipulations at trial and not allowing the trial ...


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