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Drake v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

November 24, 2014

DRAKE
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Chatham Superior Court. Before Judge Bass.

Judgment affirmed.

Richard M. Darden, for appellant.

Meg E. Heap , District Attorney, Reginald C. Martin , Sarah L. Moorhead , Assistant District Attorneys, Samuel S. Olens , Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton , Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith , Senior Assistant Attorney General, Ryan A. Kolb , Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

HUNSTEIN, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 448

Hunstein, Justice.

Appellant Jamere Drake was convicted of felony murder and related offenses in connection with the November 2011 shooting death of James Woods in downtown

Page 449

Savannah. Drake now appeals, contending that the trial court erred in admitting his statements to police, which he alleges were obtained through the use of improper interrogation techniques and in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694) (1966). Finding no error, we affirm.[1]

Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the evidence adduced at trial established as follows. In the early morning hours of November 19, 2011, James Woods, a taxi cab driver, was shot from behind and killed in the driver seat of his cab. A witness testified that, on the night in question, she returned to her home after midnight and noticed a taxi cab parked across the street. After going inside, she heard gunshots outside and saw the cab roll down the street and crash into a fence. The witness then saw a man on the passenger side of the car who appeared to be searching through the front seat of the cab. Another vehicle then approached, apparently startling the person, who ran from the scene. The witness called the police.

Savannah-Chatham County police arrived at the scene, where they found the dying victim, whom they were unable to revive. Investigators immediately contacted the taxi cab company to obtain the victim's identity and information about his final fare. Cell phone [296 Ga. 287] records obtained on an exigent basis reflected that the phone call requesting that final dispatch had come from a cell phone number registered to Drake. The records further revealed that two phone calls had been placed from Drake's cell phone number to the taxi cab company: the first shortly before midnight, using a " star six seven" prefix, which blocks the caller's identity from the receiving phone, and the second, three minutes later, without that prefix. Further evidence reflected that the taxi cab company's policy prohibited the dispatch of cabs to a caller who blocked his identity.

Having identified Drake, investigators located him that same morning at work at a local McDonald's. Drake accompanied them to the police station, where he underwent a series of video-recorded interviews, beginning at approximately 7:00 a.m. Drake first told investigators that, shortly before midnight on the previous night, he had been robbed at gunpoint of his cell phone, money, and the black thermal shirt he had been wearing. Drake subsequently admitted that this story was false and told the officers he had been driving around that night with an associate, Jeremy Smith. Drake stated that Smith had used Drake's cell phone to call a cab; that he dropped Smith off to catch the cab; and that he then received a call from Smith, who said the cab did not work out and asked Drake to pick him up at a nearby park. Drake further stated that he picked up his friend, who then told him he had shot the cab driver.

Drake subsequently changed his story again, admitting that he and Smith had planned to go downtown to find someone to rob; that he had driven Smith, who had a gun, downtown; that he then changed his mind about participating in the robbery and thus dropped Smith off so that Smith could take a cab; and that he gave Smith his cell phone, which Smith used to call the cab company. Drake further stated that, after he dropped Smith off, he parked ...


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