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Owens v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 3, 2014

OWENS
v.
THE STATE

Obstruction of officer, etc. Newton Superior Court. Before Judge Wynne.

Judgment affirmed.

Jennifer F. Arndt, for appellant.

Layla H. Zon, District Attorney, Jillian R. Hall, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

BRANCH, Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Boggs, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 654

Branch, Judge.

On appeal from his conviction for felony obstruction, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, and disorderly conduct, Timothy Owens argues that the trial court erred when it admitted recordings of the victim's 911 calls into evidence and that the evidence was insufficient. We find no error and affirm.

" On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, with the defendant no longer enjoying a presumption of innocence." Reese v. State, 270 Ga.App. 522, 523 (607 S.E.2d 165) (2004) (citation omitted). We neither weigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a " rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979) (citation omitted).

So viewed, the record shows that on the early morning of April 22, 2012, the victim called the Newton County 911 center seeking assistance as to a domestic dispute in progress at his home in Covington. The victim placed this first call, which was introduced into evidence and played for the jury, from his cell phone while he was upstairs inside his house. The victim told the operator that Owens had cursed him and slammed the refrigerator door, breaking objects stored inside, such that the victim was afraid to go downstairs in order to leave the house. While remaining connected to the 911 operator, the victim slipped his cell phone into the pocket of his shorts, went downstairs, and left the house, while Owens continued to throw things inside. As the victim left the house, Owens threw a pot at a window. Once outside, wearing only a tank top and shorts (without shoes), the victim told the 911 operator that he would walk around the area until police arrived and that he was " afraid" and " cold" and " c[ould not] live like this" anymore. Shortly afterward, when the operator reported that officers were still " ten more minutes away," the first call was disconnected. The victim immediately called 911 a [329 Ga.App. 456] second time, confirmed that he needed officer assistance, and told the second operator that he had stopped walking in the area because he was fearful that Owens would " start looking for" him. While the victim remained on the line with the operator as instructed, he noted that Owens had a " bad temper," recounted an outburst by Owens earlier in the week, and repeated his description of the refrigerator door and pot-throwing incidents. When the victim told the operator that he could see officers entering the front door of his house, the victim ended the second call.

Page 655

On arrival, the two officers spoke to the victim, who appeared fearful and was only partially clothed, and then entered the house, where they found Owens in the kitchen washing a knife with an eight-inch blade. As the officers spoke to him, Owens laid down the knife and told them that he was upset because he and the victim were no longer having sex. When one of the officers told Owens that he would have to leave the house because the victim did not want him living there, Owens placed his hands on the breakfast bar, leaned toward the officer, and said, " Why don't you try to make me leave[?] You can't do it." When the officer unsnapped his taser from its holster and approached Owens, Owens grabbed the knife and threatened the officer with it. The officer then stunned Owens with his taser. At this, Owens became compliant and was taken into custody. He was indicted on two counts of aggravated assault, four counts of possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, and one count of disorderly conduct.

Before trial, the State proffered the recordings of the victim's 911 calls and noted that it had been unable to locate the victim. The 911 operators were also unavailable. At trial, the trial court ruled that recordings of the victim's 911 calls were admissible as nontestimonial statements of present sense impressions. Owens's objections to this ruling were noted for the record. Portions of the calls concerning Owens's reputation for a bad temper were redacted and not played for the jury. At trial, Owens admitted to being angry and upset on learning that the victim wanted him to leave the house, to slamming the refrigerator door twice, and to grabbing the knife with the intention of throwing it.

A jury found Owens guilty of two counts of felony obstruction, two counts of possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, and one count of disorderly conduct. The trial court declared a mistrial as to the remaining charges. Owens was sentenced to ...


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