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Hooks v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

October 6, 2014

HOOKS
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Adams.

Benjamin D. Goldberg, for appellant.

Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Paige Reese Whitaker, Joshua D. Morrison, Assistant District Attorneys, 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.

BLACKWELL, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 410

Blackwell, Justice.

Alton Hooks was tried by a Fulton County jury and convicted of the murder of Diane Gibbs, the murder of Jimmy Gibbs, and the unlawful possession of a knife during the commission of a felony. Hooks appeals, contending that the evidence is legally insufficient to sustain his convictions, that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a mistrial, and that it erred when it admitted certain evidence. Upon our review of the record and briefs, we see no error, and we affirm.[1]

[295 Ga. 836] 1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows that Diane lived with her son Jimmy in Overlook Atlanta, an apartment complex in west Atlanta. For awhile, Diane was in a romantic relationship with Hooks. By December 1999, however, the relationship had soured, and around that time, Hooks told a relative that Diane was " going to make [him] do something to her." On December 15, a neighbor saw Hooks in the apartment that Diane and Jimmy shared, noting that Hooks stood by the front door " [p]ractically the whole day," which the neighbor thought was unusual.

Two days later, relatives of Diane and Jimmy went to the apartment, concerned that they had not heard from Diane or Jimmy. When no one answered the door, the relatives summoned a security guard, who, in turn, called for police officers. The responding officers found no evidence of a forced

Page 411

entry into the apartment. They entered the apartment, however, and found a trail of blood, which they followed to a bedroom. In the bedroom closets, the officers discovered Diane and Jimmy's bodies. Both had sustained stab wounds to their necks, and Jimmy had sustained a number of defensive wounds as well. The evidence showed that Diane had been stabbed in a bed in that same bedroom, and she then had been dragged to one of the closets. Jimmy evidently had been stabbed in another room, and he then had been dragged to a second closet in the bedroom in which Diane was stabbed. Although the type of knife used to inflict the neck wounds could not be identified definitively, at least some of the [295 Ga. 837] defensive wounds that Jimmy sustained were shown to have been inflicted with a serrated knife.

In addition, investigators found blood in a bathroom of the apartment -- both on a sink and a shower curtain -- which was consistent with someone recently having tried to wash blood from his body. Investigators also found a note in the apartment, which read: " I[,] Alton[,] just killed Diane and myself. Please send help[.]" A handwriting expert later compared this note to a known sample of Hooks's handwriting and concluded that Hooks wrote the note.

Also on December 17, an employee of a motel just outside Atlanta observed blood on the window of a room in which Hooks was staying, and the same employee saw Hooks lying on the bed, his hand in a Styrofoam container. The employee called for police officers, and when officers responded, they found Hooks barricaded in his room, armed with a serrated knife. The officers said nothing to Hooks about Diane and Jimmy, but Hooks repeatedly asked them " what he was going to be charged with," and he cut himself with the knife several times. After a twelve-hour standoff, a SWAT team entered the room by force, officers apprehended Hooks, and they took him to a hospital, where he was arrested for the murders of Diane and Jimmy.

At trial, evidence of an earlier incident involving Hooks and his ex-wife was admitted as a similar transaction. In that incident, Hooks -- armed with a box cutter -- had entered the home of his ex-wife and cut her neck as she slept in her bed.[2] A police officer testified that Hooks left a note in the home ...


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