Murder. Richmond Superior Court. Before Judge Brown.
H. Lee Prescott, Jr., Katherine M. Mason, for appellant.
Ashley Wright, District Attorney, Madonna M. Little, Assistant District Attorney, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Meghan H. Hill, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
HINES, Presiding Justice. All the Justices concur.
Hines, Presiding Justice.
Eddie Lee Freeman appeals from his convictions and sentences for malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with the death of Terrance Devaris Moore. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.
Construed to support the verdicts, the evidence showed that Freeman and two other men went to a motel room to buy illegal drugs; Freeman was in possession of a .38 caliber revolver. Moore was in the motel room with three other men. There was a disagreement over the price of the drugs, and an argument ensued; Moore locked the door to the motel room and placed his hand in his pocket and appeared to begin to remove a handgun from it. A gunshot was then fired, followed by a number of other gunshots, and the lights of the room went out; the door to the room became inoperative and those inside the room began to leave through a broken window. Freeman fired his .38 revolver several times, and was himself twice struck by bullets. He was subsequently taken to a hospital. Moore was also struck twice by bullets, and died en route to the hospital. The autopsy produced two .38 bullets recovered from his body, at least one having been fired from close range; the bullets proved to have been fired from either a .38 special or .357 magnum revolver, and to
have been fired from the [295 Ga. 821] same weapon as another bullet found at the crime scene. Freeman's .38 revolver was not found, and it was established that bullets of other calibers were fired at the crime scene.
1. The evidence was sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Freeman was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
2. Freeman gave three oral statements to investigating law enforcement officers; one statement was given in the hospital emergency room shortly after the shooting; one was made at the sheriff's office several hours later; and the third occurred two days later. Only the third statement was made after the giving of Miranda  warnings, and Freeman argued to the trial court that evidence contained within the first two statements should be excluded as he was in custody at the time they were made and thus Miranda warnings were required to be given. See Durden v. State, 293 Ga. 89, 95 (3) (744 S.E.2d 9) (2013). Prior to trial, and after a Jackson v. Denno  hearing, the trial court ruled the two statements admissible.
At trial, when the State sought to introduce the recording of the first interview, Freeman objected, and the State responded that the trial court had " already found at the previous hearing that the statement was freely and voluntarily given and as well that no Miranda warnings were necessary as the defendant was not a suspect at that time." The court simply overruled the objection and admitted the recorded statement. When the State sought to introduce a recording of the second interview, Freeman again objected, and the State responded that " the issue of voluntariness has already been addressed and [the State] would request the court allow this into evidence." The court responded: " All right. I find that the statement was freely and voluntarily given as previously ruled. I'll admit it over the objection of the ...