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Johnson v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

February 2, 2015

JOHNSON
v.
THE STATE

Reconsideration denied February 16, 2015.

Page 88

Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Lane.

Judgment affirmed.

Law Firm of Shein & Brandenburg, Marcia G. Shein, Elizabeth A. Brandenburg, for appellant.

Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Paige Reese Whitaker, Arthur C. Walton, Assistant District Attorneys, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Michael A. Oldham, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

BLACKWELL, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 89

Blackwell, Justice.

Paul Johnson was tried by a Fulton County jury and convicted of murder and other crimes, all in connection with the killing of Craig Porter. Johnson appeals, contending that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions, that the trial court erred when it admitted certain testimony from the medical examiner, that the trial court erred when it admitted evidence of a photographic lineup that, Johnson says, was unduly suggestive, and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Upon our review of the record and briefs, we find no error, and we affirm.[1]

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows that around 3:30 on the morning of April 2, 2004, Porter and his girlfriend, Tiana Smith, left their home in Jonesboro and went to the parking lot of a nearby gas station to purchase crack cocaine. They already had been to this same parking lot to purchase drugs earlier, but they had been sold fake drugs. Having spent all their money, Porter and Smith intended to " pull off with somebody's crack" without paying for it.

The couple encountered Brent Johnson near the gas station parking lot and asked him if he knew where they could purchase " dope." [2] Brent got into their car and directed them to the Columbia Hills Apartments in Atlanta. When they arrived, Brent went to an apartment on the first floor of " Building H," and Smith saw Johnson emerge from the apartment with a gun tucked into his pants. Johnson [296 Ga. 505] approached the passenger side of the couple's car, engaged them in a brief conversation, and ultimately handed Smith a package containing crack cocaine. Porter attempted to speed off in the car, but as he drove away, Johnson began shooting at him. Porter was killed by a bullet that struck him in the back of the head, and he sustained a second gunshot wound to his back between his shoulder blades. Smith was able to steer the car out of the apartment complex, she hailed an oncoming car, and she was rescued by the driver of that car.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Johnson argued with Brent about the incident before returning to his apartment. Police officers arrived shortly thereafter, and they discovered Porter's body in the car just outside the apartment complex. There were several bullet holes in the rear window of the car and bullet fragments therein. Later that morning, officers discovered numerous shell casings outside " Building H." The investigation ultimately focused on the apartment on the first floor of that building that was frequented by Johnson, Erick Owens, Cavaras Clark, and Kevin Reese. Police found cocaine and marijuana in the apartment, and Owens admitted that he and Johnson used the apartment to sell drugs. Owens reported that Johnson ...


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