Murder. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Benefield.
Jimmonique R. S. Rodgers, Christopher R. Geel, Long D. Vo, for appellant.
Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Elizabeth A. Baker, Erman J. Tanjuatco, 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.
THOMPSON, Chief Justice. All the Justices concur, except Benham and Hunstein, JJ., who dissent.
Thompson, Chief Justice.
A jury found appellant Veasa Bun guilty of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Sheriff's Deputy Richard Daly. Bun, who was seventeen
years old at the time the crimes were committed, was sentenced to life without parole plus an additional seventy years of imprisonment. His motion for new trial [296 Ga. 550] asserting numerous grounds of error was denied, and he appeals, arguing that his sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under both the federal and Georgia Constitutions and that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
1. The evidence presented at trial, considered in the light most favorable to the verdict, shows that on July 20, 2011, Deputy Daly and several other law enforcement officers pulled over a vehicle in which Bun was a passenger. Bun had been identified as a passenger in the vehicle by an officer who knew there was an outstanding warrant for Bun's arrest in connection with a previous robbery and aggravated assault. As Daly and the other officers approached the stopped vehicle, Bun grabbed and cocked a gun, stepped out of the car, and fatally shot Daly twice in the abdomen. Bun then shot at other officers as he fled into the nearby woods.
We conclude the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find Bun guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
2. Relying on the United States Supreme Court's decisions in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d 1) (2005), Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825) (2010), and Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___ (132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407) (2012), Bun argues that imposition of a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile defendant in a homicide case constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the federal and state constitutions. The identical issue was raised and decided adversely to Bun in Foster v. State, 294 Ga. 383, 387 (11) (754 S.E.2d 33) (2014), based on this Court's recognition that OCGA § 16-5-1 does not under any [296 Ga. 551] circumstance mandate life without parole but gives the sentencing court discretion over the sentence to be imposed after consideration of all the circumstances in a given case, including the age of the offender and the mitigating qualities that accompany youth. See former OCGA § 16-5-1 (d) (" A person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life." ). See also Miller, supra, 132 S.Ct. at ...