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Faulks v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

October 20, 2014

FAULKS
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Richmond Superior Court. Before Judge Brown.

Robert L. Persse, 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, Clint C. Malcolm, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

MELTON, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 847

Melton, Justice.

Following a jury trial, Michael Orlando Faulks was found guilty of felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with the shooting death of Jamar Wright.[1] On appeal Faulks contends that the trial court gave an improper jury charge on aggravated assault and that his trial counsel was ineffective. We affirm.

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the evidence reveals that, on the evening of January 4, 2009, Faulks was hanging out at his girlfriend's apartment with his friend, John Elam. Wright, a mutual friend of Elam and Faulks, called Elam to let him know that he was on his way to the apartment. When Wright arrived and knocked at the apartment door, Faulks, still in Elam's presence, walked up to the door while brandishing a black handgun, opened the door, and shot Wright in the chest at point blank range, killing him.

This evidence was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find Faulks guilty of all of the crimes of which he was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

2. Faulks contends that the trial court committed plain error[2] by charging the

Page 848

jury on other forms of aggravated assault besides [296 Ga. 39] aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, because aggravated assault with a deadly weapon was the only form of aggravated assault charged in the indictment. However, Faulks is incorrect. While it is true that,

[w]here the indictment charges a defendant committed an offense by one method[ ] it is reversible error for the court to instruct the jury that the offense could be committed by other statutory methods with no limiting instruction[,] [t]he defect is cured ... where the court provides the jury with the indictment and instructs jurors that the burden of proof rests upon the State to prove every material allegation of the indictment and every essential element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Sharpe v. State, 291 Ga. 148, 151 (4) (728 S.E.2d 217) (2012).

Here, the record reveals that the trial court read the indictment to the jury, provided the jury with the indictment during deliberations, and properly instructed the jury that the burden of proof was on the State to prove every essential element of the crimes as charged in the indictment. Under such circumstances, Faulks cannot show any reversible error, plain or otherwise. See id. Indeed, there is no reasonable probability that the jury found Faulks guilty of felony murder in a manner that was not charged in the indictment. Id.

3. In light of our holding in Division 2, we conclude that Faulks " has failed to show ineffective assistance of counsel as a result of counsel's failure to object to the jury charge which, even if erroneous, did not affect the outcome of the proceedings." (Citation omitted.) Johnson v. State, 295 Ga. 615 (3) (a) (759 S.E.2d 837) (2014).

Judgment affirmed.

All the Justices concur.


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