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Thomas v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

February 2, 2015

THOMAS
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Dougherty Superior Court. Before Judge Gray, Senior Judge.

Judgment affirmed.

The Tim Lewis Firm, Tim Lewis, for appellant.

Gregory W. Edwards, District Attorney, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Christian A. Fuller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

BENHAM, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 83

Benham, Justice.

Appellant Bobby Gene Thomas was convicted, as a party to the crimes, for malice murder and other offenses arising out of a

Page 84

convenience store armed robbery.[1] For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the convictions.

[296 Ga. 486] 1. We first address appellant's assertion that insufficient evidence was presented to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was a party to the crimes committed by his accomplice, Earl Randolph Scott. Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the verdict, the surveillance camera videos at the convenience store that was robbed show appellant, who was identified at trial in these videos by his clothing, entered the store just minutes before a person identified as Scott entered. Both were wearing dark hooded jackets, and on the video appellant is distinguishable from Scott because appellant's slacks appear to be black and his jacket, while dark, is lighter in color than his slacks, whereas Scott's jacket and slacks both appear to be black. Another distinguishing characteristic is that Scott's light-colored shirttail is shown hanging below the bottom of his jacket. The two stood at the lottery ticket desk for several minutes looking around the store. Both of them appeared to be wearing a white glove or carrying a white cloth wrapped around one hand. Scott exited the store and walked to the corner of the building. One of the outside cameras shows a hand that appears to be covered in something white being stuck out of the door for a moment, at which point Scott walked back and re-entered the store. From a contemporaneous video recording taken by an inside camera, appellant was identified as the person apparently signaling at the door. A short time later they both exited the store and walked away, one after the other.

Less than half an hour later, Scott drove up to the store parking lot in a two-toned Cadillac and backed into a parking space. A witness [296 Ga. 487] who was a lifelong acquaintance of appellant testified that he saw the Cadillac backing into the space, noticed appellant exiting the passenger side of the vehicle, and was able to describe appellant's clothing. The witness testified that appellant got out of the car first and the driver followed him. From the videotape, the witness identified appellant as the first of the two hooded men to enter the store. After wandering about the store for a few minutes, Scott pulled a gun and can be heard demanding that the clerks open the registers and get down on the floor. Scott then fired two shots. One struck store clerk Gary Patel in the leg. The other struck Herbert Wells, a patron of the store. Wells was transported to the hospital and treated, but he died of his injuries three weeks later. Appellant, in his lighter colored jacket, can be seen in the videotape crouching near the door and looking out. Consistent

Page 85

with the testimony of one of the store clerks, appellant can be heard on the recording exhorting Scott to " hurry, hurry, hurry," and telling Scott, " Man, come on hurry up, people are coming." Appellant ran out of the store and out of sight. Scott exited the store, ...


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