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Prince v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

October 6, 2014

PRINCE
v.
THE STATE

Page 363

Murder. Richmond Superior Court. Before Judge Overstreet.

Katrell Nash, Katherine M. Mason, for appellant.

Ashley Wright, District Attorney, Titus T. Nichols, Assistant District Attorney, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Jason M. Rea, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

NAHMIAS, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 364

Nahmias, Justice.

Appellant Geoffrey Prince was convicted of the murder of Vanessa Adolph. On appeal, he contends that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to file a motion to suppress the evidence found during the initial search of his house and in failing to object with specificity to the trial court's refusal to charge the jury on the defense [295 Ga. 789] of alibi, and that the trial court improperly denied his counsel's motion for mistrial based on the prosecutor's discovery violation. We affirm.[1]

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence presented at trial showed the following. Around 1:30 a.m. on December 17, 2003, three witnesses saw a white minivan parked by the woods near the Martin Marietta plant in Augusta, Georgia. Vanessa Adolph's body was discovered in the same area later that day. An autopsy showed that she had suffered a number of traumatic injuries including abrasions, a fractured sternum, lung punctures, rib fractures, and hemorrhaging; the cause of death was blunt force injuries and possible strangulation.

Ruth Ferebee was Appellant's girlfriend. A number of items were found close to Adolph's body, including Ferebee's library card and keys to her white minivan and her office. After seeing her picture on television and learning that the police wanted her for questioning, Ferebee spoke with Appellant, and they decided to drive to Jacksonville, Florida, where her family lived, leaving on the evening of December 19. Appellant changed her minivan's license plate so they would not be stopped by the police. The next day, Investigator Scott Peebles spoke with Ferebee on the phone. Ferebee told him that she had been staying at Appellant's house in Martinez (a suburb of Augusta) on

Page 365

the night of December 16-17 and that she had loaned her minivan to Appellant that evening so he could go shopping. Investigator Peebles then obtained a search warrant for Appellant's house, and when the search was conducted on December 23, officers found men's pants covered in blood, which DNA testing showed came from Adolph.

On December 24, Appellant and Ferebee surrendered themselves to law enforcement in Augusta. Two days later, Appellant asked to speak with an investigator. After waiving his Miranda rights, Appellant gave an audiotaped statement to Investigator Peebles in which he said the following. On the night of December 16, he was driving a minivan and picked up Adolph and a man named [295 Ga. 790] James Blount at a gas station to give them a ride to a truck stop in exchange for payment. However, Appellant missed the turn into the truck stop and instead pulled into the Martin Marietta plant. As he was turning the minivan around, Blount and Adolph gave each other a signal and both attacked him. Appellant fought them off, body slamming Blount and kicking Adolph in the face. During this struggle, the minivan's key ring came apart and lost several keys. Appellant got Adolph and Blount out of the car and drove away; they were lying on the ground arguing as he left.

Blount had been booked into the Richmond County Jail on unrelated charges the day after Appellant. Investigators determined that Blount could not have been present at the time of Adolph's murder because he was an inpatient ...


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