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Wallace v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

January 20, 2015


Page 481

Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Brasher.

Brandon Lewis, for appellant.

Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Paige Reese Whitaker, Lyndsey H. Rudder, Assistant District Attorneys, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Andrew G. Sims, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.


Page 482

Blackwell, Justice.

Edward Wallace was tried by a Fulton County jury and convicted of murder and other crimes, all in connection with the fatal shooting of Kyle Moore. Wallace appeals, contending that the evidence is legally insufficient to sustain his convictions, that the trial court erred when it admitted certain evidence at trial, and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Upon our review of the record and briefs, we see no error, and we affirm.[1]

Page 483

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows that on the evening of May 3, 2007, Wallace, Maurice Aikens, and Ladasha Eison made plans to rob someone at a bus stop near a MARTA station. When Moore -- an African-American high school student who was unknown to the assailants -- arrived at the bus stop, Wallace and Aikens ran up to him and took his empty wallet and cell phone at gunpoint. Moore then was shot multiple times, and he died from his wounds soon afterwards. Eison told her co-workers about the [296 Ga. 389] robbery, identifying Wallace as the shooter. Two days after the shooting, Wallace had the words " unknown killer" tattooed onto his arm and confessed to his girlfriend that he had shot Moore. Ballistics testing confirmed that a 9mm handgun found by police officers in Wallace's bedroom was the gun with which Moore was killed. During a custodial interview, Wallace admitted that he had purchased that gun a few months earlier. Police also found rap lyrics written recently by Wallace, in which he said that he targeted black people and that, if one would not act, Wallace would " lay 'em flat" and " put eight holes in his back."

Wallace points to some conflicts in the evidence and questions the credibility of several witnesses, including Eison. But when we consider the legal sufficiency of the evidence, " we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and leave questions of credibility and the resolution of conflicts in the evidence to the jury." Bradley v. State, 292 Ga. 607, 609 (1) (a) (740 S.E.2d 100) (2013). So viewed, we conclude that the evidence adduced at trial was legally sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Wallace was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

2. Wallace contends that the trial court improperly allowed Eison to testify about his character. When asked why she and Aikens did not want Wallace to know where they went after the murder, she testified that they " don't trust [Wallace]." Wallace's lawyer asked to approach the bench, the jury was excused, and the lawyer moved for a mistrial. Finding that Eison's answer only incidentally placed Wallace's character into evidence, the trial court denied his motion for mistrial but cautioned the prosecutor to " steer clear of that area." Wallace's lawyer neither renewed the motion for mistrial nor asked for any additional corrective action. To the contrary, he told the trial court that he was " not requesting any type of curative instructions or anything like that." The trial court agreed not to highlight the issue any further, the jury returned, and the prosecutor resumed her examination of Eison without revisiting the issue. " Where a defendant objects and moves for a mistrial during the examination of a witness, and the trial court denies the motion but takes some corrective action, if the defendant is dissatisfied with that action, he must renew the objection or motion; otherwise, the issue is waived." Wilkins v. State, 261 Ga.App. 856, 858 (2) (583 S.E.2d 905) (2003) (citation and punctuation omitted). Because Wallace failed to renew his motion for mistrial following the trial court's cautionary direction to the prosecutor and instead announced his decision not to request any further corrective

Page 484

action, Wallace has waived this issue on [296 Ga. 390] appeal. See id.; Frazier v. State, 247 Ga.App. 500, 501-502 (544 S.E.2d 198) (2001). See also Phillips v. State, 269 Ga.App. 619, 628 (6) (a) (604 S.E.2d 520) (2004).

Even if the trial court's warning to the prosecutor did not amount to corrective action that triggered an obligation on Wallace's part to renew his motion for mistrial, we find no error. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Wallace's motion for mistrial, as the testimony about not trusting Wallace was ambiguous and did not indicate that he had committed a crime. See McIlwain v. State, 287 Ga. 115, 117 (4) (694 S.E.2d 657) (2010). Moreover, that testimony was relevant to explain the actions of Eison and Aikens after witnessing Wallace shoot Moore, and ...

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