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Clark v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

February 16, 2015

CLARK
v.
THE STATE

Page 377

Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge McBurney.

Judgment affirmed.

Jimmonique R. S. Rodgers, Thomas D. Wight, for appellant.

Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Paige Reese Whitaker, Lenny I. Krick, Assistant District Attorneys, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Ryan A. Kolb, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

NAHMIAS, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 378

Nahmias, Justice.

Appellant Constance Clark was convicted of malice murder and a firearm offense as a party to the shooting death of her husband, William Eric Clark. On appeal, she argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support her convictions and that the trial court erred in allowing the prosecutor to offer unsworn testimony during the State's opening argument, in admitting testimony by a medical examiner who did not perform the victim's autopsy, and in permitting a witness's videotaped statement to be played for the jury multiple times in alleged violation of the continuing witness rule. We affirm.[1]

[296 Ga. 544] 1. (a) Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence at trial showed the following. Appellant and the victim were married in 1999; they lived in Bessemer, Alabama. In June 2000, the victim obtained a $100,000 life insurance policy. In June 2005, less than six months before he was killed, the victim obtained another policy in the amount of $500,000. Appellant was named as the primary beneficiary on both policies. At some point during their relationship, Appellant and the victim began having financial difficulties, and they argued about whether Appellant should spend their money on illegal drugs. The couple borrowed money from the victim's mother, and they eventually filed for bankruptcy. In the late spring or early summer of 2005, Appellant pulled a gun on the victim during a heated argument. That fall, one of Appellant's friends saw her in a barber shop and asked how the victim was doing. Appellant replied, " F**k Eric. I need to collect some insurance money on his ass."

The victim worked a side job as a bartender, and he planned to drive to Atlanta on December 13, 2005, to buy liquor at a discounted rate for an event. Appellant called her cousin Jean Pierre DeVaughn, who lived in Atlanta, telling him that the victim was an abusive husband and asking him to kill the victim. Appellant then gave the victim DeVaughn's cell phone number and told the victim that she had arranged for him to meet with DeVaughn, who could help him find the discount liquor store. Meanwhile, DeVaughn called his friend Khorey Branch to ask if Branch knew where he could buy a gun, and Branch contacted Christopher Tumlin, who agreed to sell DeVaughn a handgun. On the evening of December 13, DeVaughn and Branch went to Tumlin's home in southwest Atlanta, where Tumlin sold DeVaughn a handgun for $125. DeVaughn then drove with Tumlin and Branch to a gas station near Six Flags, where they met up with the victim around 9:00 p.m.

Under the impression that he was being led to the liquor store, the victim then followed DeVaughn to Waterford Edge, an unfinished subdivision near College Park where

Page 379

DeVaughn had previously [296 Ga. 545] delivered construction materials for a job. DeVaughn and the victim pulled their cars into the driveway of an unfinished house, got out, and began to talk while Tumlin and Branch remained in DeVaughn's car. During what appeared to be a casual conversation, DeVaughn suddenly pulled out his gun and shot the victim four or five times, including twice in the head, killing him. Tumlin then jumped out of DeVaughn's car and got into the victim's car, and both cars sped out of the ...


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