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Anderson v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

February 16, 2015

ANDERSON
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge McBurney.

Judgment affirmed.

Barbara M. Collins, for appellant.

Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Paige Reese Whitaker, Marc A. Mallon, Assistant District Attorneys, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Katherine L. Iannuzzi, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

NAHMIAS, Justice. All the Justices concur, except Hunstein, J., who concurs in judgment only as to Divisions 2 and 3.

OPINION

Page 305

Nahmias, Justice.

Appellant Antonio Anderson was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Marcus Key. On appeal, he argues tat the trial judge referred to his trial counsel and the prosecutor in a manner that created an impression of favoritism [296 Ga. 525] toward the State's attorney, and that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to the trial judge's remarks. We affirm.[1]

Page 306

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented at trial showed the following. On the evening of February 24, 2005, Appellant and his co-defendant Major Duggan arranged to meet Key in an apartment complex parking lot to buy a quarter pound of marijuana. Appellant and Duggan walked to the meeting spot, and when Key arrived in his Chevrolet Tahoe, Appellant got into the back seat and Duggan got into the passenger seat. Both Appellant and Key had guns. Shortly after Appellant and Duggan got into the Tahoe, several gunshots were fired.

Willie Sheffield, who had contacted Key for Appellant and Duggan to set up the drug deal, was standing nearby. Sheffield heard the gunshots and heard Appellant say " get the f**k out of the truck" before Key fell from the Tahoe to the ground. Appellant got out of the back seat holding a .32-caliber revolver and told Sheffield to get back. Duggan said, " Nothing personal. Just business." Appellant then got in the driver's seat of the Tahoe, and he and Duggan drove away. The Tahoe was found on fire about five miles away. Key died on the scene from three gunshot wounds, two to his back and one to the back of his right shoulder near his neck. All three bullets were fired from the same .32-caliber Colt revolver. About two weeks later, Appellant and Duggan turned themselves in and were arrested.

At trial, the defense theory was that Appellant shot Key in self-defense. Duggan testified that he and Key were haggling about price in the Tahoe when Appellant suddenly said, " F**k all this," and both Appellant and Key drew their guns. Appellant did not testify.

[296 Ga. 526] Appellant does not challenge the legal sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. Nevertheless, in accordance with this Court's practice in murder cases, we have reviewed the record and conclude that the evidence presented at trial and summarized above was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to reject Appellant's claim of self-defense and to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). See also Sifuentes v. State, 293 Ga. 441, 443 (746 S.E.2d 127) (2013) (" While [appellant] maintains he acted in defense of himself and his brother, [i]t was for the jury to determine the credibility of the witnesses and to resolve any conflicts or inconsistencies in the evidence." (citations and punctuation omitted)).

2. In his first enumeration of error, Appellant argues that the trial judge prejudiced the jury against him by demonstrating partiality toward the State's attorney and against his trial counsel. The record shows that, in the presence of the jury and before it returned its verdicts, the trial judge referred to the prosecutor, Clint Rucker, as either " Mr. Rucker" (27 times) or " Clint" (20 times). The judge similarly referred to Appellant's trial counsel, Melissa Redmon, as " Ms. Redmon" (six times) and " Melissa" (three times). The judge also called her " Young Lady" or " Ms. Young Lady" four times and " Miss Conflict" two times.[2] During the trial, however, Appellant did not object to these remarks by the trial judge or file a motion for the judge's recusal. He therefore failed to preserve this argument for review on appeal. See Stacey v. State, 292 Ga. 838, 843 (741 S.E.2d 881) (2013) (" Georgia 'has long followed the contemporaneous objection rule, which provides that counsel must make a proper objection on the record at the earliest possible time to preserve for review the point of error.' " (citation omitted)); State v. Hargis, 294 Ga. 818, 821 (756 S.E.2d 529) (2014) ...


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