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Harper v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

January 28, 2015

HARPER
v.
THE STATE

Page 756

Cert. applied for.

Armed robbery, etc. DeKalb Superior Court. Before Judge Hunter.

Ross & Pines, Noah H. Pines, for appellant.

Robert D. James, Jr., District Attorney, Deborah D. Wellborn, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 757

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

A jury convicted Joel Ledarius Harper of two counts of armed robbery and one count of aggravated assault. Following the denial of his motion for new trial, Harper filed this appeal, arguing that the [330 Ga.App. 562] evidence was insufficient, the trial court erred in allowing the State to present similar transaction evidence, and that his trial counsel was ineffective. For the reasons that follow, we affirm Harper's convictions.

When evaluating the sufficiency of evidence, the proper standard for review is whether a rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). This Court does not reweigh evidence or resolve conflicts in testimony; instead, evidence is reviewed in a light most favorable to the verdict, with deference to the jury's assessment of the weight and credibility of the evidence.

Hayes v. State, 292 Ga. 506 (739 S.E.2d 313) (2013).

So viewed, the evidence showed that a South Carolina man (the buyer) called his friend in Atlanta and asked him to set up a deal for the buyer to purchase several pounds of marijuana for $1,000 per pound. The friend contacted a middleman, who eventually brokered a deal with a seller he knew as " Money Mike." The buyer drove to his friend's house and counted out the money needed to complete the deal; then the friend drove the buyer to meet the middleman at a fast-food restaurant in the general location Money Mike had identified as the site of the deal. The middleman then called Money

Page 758

Mike, who gave him the address of a residence nearby, and the friend and the buyer followed the middleman in a separate car to that location.

The friend stayed in the car while the buyer and the middleman entered the house and closed the front door. The middleman walked in first, with the buyer following behind him. The middleman testified, " [T]he next thing I know, the gun is pointed in my face." The gunman, whom the middleman identified in a photographic lineup later that day as Harper, pulled out a second gun and ordered the middleman and the buyer to the ground, threatening to shoot the men and demanding money. The buyer and the middleman threw the contents of their pockets on the ground, including the middleman's wallet, ID, and cell phone. Harper insisted that there should be more money and said, " Go get the rest of the money." The middleman testified that he thought Harper meant that only one of them should go, but both men saw an opportunity to get away so they both bolted for the door. The middleman reached the door first and heard a shot behind him, but kept running until he reached a store where he called 911.

The friend testified that he was waiting in his car when suddenly the buyer burst out of the door and ran off, followed by a gunman with [330 Ga.App. 563] an automatic weapon who fired two shots at the buyer. The friend ducked down, slid over to the driver's side of the car, and drove off to look for the buyer, but could not locate him and eventually ended up calling 911 from the same store the middleman did. The friend accused the middleman of setting up the assault and robbery, and feared the buyer was dead, but ...


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