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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

October 30, 2014

JONES
v.
THE STATE

Page 640

Aggravated battery, etc. Clarke Superior Court. Before Judge Haggard.

Brandon Lewis, for appellant.

Kenneth W. Mauldin, District Attorney, Brian V. Patterson, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

BARNES, Presiding Judge. Boggs and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 641

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

A jury convicted Robert Lynn Jones of aggravated battery -- family violence, criminal trespass, fleeing or attempting to elude police officers, reckless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to maintain a single lane, operating an unregistered vehicle, and having taillights that did not work properly. Jones filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied. On appeal, Jones challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, and he contends that the trial court erred by declining his request for a continuance and by admitting testimony by the victim that allegedly placed his character in issue. Jones further contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object when the victim testified about a prior incident when he attempted to commit suicide. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.[1]

" Following a criminal conviction, the defendant is no longer presumed innocent, and

Page 642

we view the evidence in the light most favorable to sustain the verdict." Anthony v. State, 317 Ga.App. 807 (732 S.E.2d 845) (2012). So viewed, the evidence showed that Jones was married to the victim and lived with her and her two children in Athens-Clarke County. On the afternoon of Labor Day, September 4, 2006, Jones and the victim's daughter were in the family's pool while the victim and her son performed yard work. Jones and the victim had been drinking beer that afternoon, but the victim was not intoxicated.

While performing yard work, the victim noticed how Jones was interacting with her daughter in the pool and became uncomfortable. She accused Jones of flirting with her daughter, and he got out of the pool. When the victim repeated her accusation, Jones punched her in the face with his fist, knocking her to the ground. Once the victim got [329 Ga.App. 440] up from the ground, Jones told her to get her kids and come into the house, but she responded, " [Y]ou want to go in the house, I'll go in the house with you but you're not taking my kids with you." Jones and the victim then went inside the house.

The victim could not remember what occurred after she entered the house with Jones. The victim's next memory was waking up on the kitchen floor to the sound of her daughter crying and screaming " Mama" and " Look what you've done to her." Starting to regain consciousness, the victim recalled Jones looking at her face and becoming upset. Jones began to scream that their relationship was over and went into the bedroom, where he gathered his clothes and belongings as if he were about to leave. While in the bedroom, Jones picked up a screwdriver and repeatedly stabbed a television hanging on the wall.

Continuing to scream that he was going to leave, Jones went into the kitchen and took a salt shaker from the kitchen table and threw it at another television in the living room that had been purchased with the victim's money, causing the screen to crack. Jones then retrieved a kitchen knife and threatened to commit suicide, telling the victim, " I'm just going to end it all. I'm sorry. I'll never be able to hurt you again." But the victim was able to take the knife away from Jones, and at that point he fled from the house in his vehicle, a pickup truck with an attached trailer.

Police officers responded to the scene after the victim dialed 911. The officers entered the house and noted that there was blood splatter in the kitchen and master bedroom, that the two televisions had been damaged, and that there was a fist-sized hole in the door of the master bedroom. They spoke with the victim, who was shaking and crying, and she told them that Jones had punched her in both eyes and described his vehicle to them. The officers observed that the victim's eyes were bruised and swollen shut, and one of the officers described the swelling as so extensive that each eye was " the size of a tennis ball." A next-door neighbor also came over to the house when she saw the flashing lights outside and noted that the victim had blood on her hands, bruises and scratches on her neck, and eyes so swollen that they were " bulbous," looked like a " bug[']s sticking out," and caused her to look like a " prize fighter."

The police officers spoke with the next-door neighbor outside the victim's house. As they spoke, the neighbor interrupted their conversation and told them that she saw Jones in his truck with the attached trailer in front of the house. Jones quickly drove away, and the officers followed him in their marked patrol cars with their blue lights and sirens activated. Jones did not stop and instead accelerated. As the police pursued him, Jones drove out of Athens-Clarke County, through [329 Ga.App. 441] Madison and Jackson Counties, and then back into Athens-Clarke County. During the police chase, which lasted approximately 15 minutes, Jones failed to stop at several stop signs, did not maintain his lane of travel, and drove at speeds reaching up to 85 mph in a 55 mph zone. Additionally, the trailer attached to Jones' truck did not have operating taillights and did not have a properly registered license plate. Jones ultimately swerved off the road and into the woods, where he wrecked into a tree. He fled into the woods and escaped police apprehension at that time.

Page 643

While the police chase was taking place, the victim was transported by ambulance to the hospital for treatment. The lead detective assigned to the case spoke with the victim at the hospital, and she explained to him what had occurred in an audio-recorded interview. The detective noted that the victim's eyes were swollen shut, and he took multiple photographs of ...


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