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Williams v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

February 16, 2015

WILLIAMS
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Grady Superior Court. Before Judge Cato.

Judgments affirmed.

Billy M. Grantham, for appellant.

Joseph K. Mulholland, District Attorney, Moruf O. Oseni, Assistant District Attorney, 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.

HINES, Presiding Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 319

Hines, Presiding Justice.

Frankie Williams appeals the denial of his motion for new trial and his conviction and sentence for malice murder in connection with the fatal drive-by shooting of Jerry Bodiford, Jr. He challenges the sufficiency and weight of the evidence of his guilt. Finding the challenge to be without merit, we affirm.[1]

Williams contends that the evidence was insufficient to show that he directly committed the murder or was a party to it, and, as he did in his motion for new trial, he maintains that the verdicts were [296 Ga. 574] decidedly and strongly against the weight of the evidence. Whether an appellant is asking this Court to review the legal sufficiency of the evidence or a trial court's refusal to grant a new trial on the general grounds, this Court must review the case under the standard set forth in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979), that is, if the evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, supports the verdict or verdicts. Lewis v. State, 296 Ga. 259 (765 S.E.2d 911) (2014).

In this case, the evidence construed in favor of the State showed the following. On July 27, 2011, Williams arranged for co-defendant Killens to drive him from Thomasville, where both defendants resided, to Cairo to visit Williams's girlfriend, Angelica Gilley. Upon arrival at Gilley's residence, they encountered Quanterian Davis. Williams believed that Davis was pursuing Gilley romantically, and an altercation ensued between Davis and Williams.

The altercation began when Davis, who was also a neighbor of Gilley, walked by Gilley's porch where Gilley, Williams, and Killens were talking. Davis turned around when he heard his name. Davis and Williams started to argue because Gilley wanted to talk to Davis. Williams stood and " acted as if he was going to take his shirt off," and as the altercation became heated, Gilley tried to push Williams inside her home. Davis called Williams a " punk," and Williams commented " I am going to kill that n _ _ _ _ _." Killens stated " he had five shots" for Davis. Davis left and met Bodiford, with whom he talked on a daily basis, and he told him about the altercation with Williams. Williams and Killens also left the Gilley residence in their vehicle. However, Williams and Killens returned shortly thereafter and attempted to convince Gilley to leave with them. While Williams and Killens were absent, Gilley's sister texted Davis and asked him to return. Although Davis believed the altercation was over, Bodiford returned with Davis to " make sure everything was all right." Killens had been seen with a handgun earlier that day.

Davis and Bodiford returned to the Gilley residence and were standing around with several others when Williams and Killens approached in their vehicle; Davis then felt that something was not right, that his being summoned to the residence might be a " trap." Killens was in the driver's seat, and Williams was in the passenger's side with the

Page 320

" seat all the way back." As Williams and Killens drove away, shots were fired from inside the car through the lowered passenger window; Davis saw Williams holding a handgun out of that window. The driver's side window was closed. Shell casings were found inside the vehicle in the back floorboard passenger side and in the center console. As Bodiford turned to flee, he was fatally wounded [296 Ga. 575] by a bullet which entered under his arm and into his right posterior-lateral chest. The bullet removed from Bodiford was consistent with the .25 caliber shell casings found in the vehicle.

During the initial interview of Williams by agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Williams denied knowing anything about the shooting. At a second interview, Williams gave a location where he said the murder weapon might be recovered, but the weapon was not found even though the area was searched three times. A .25-caliber handgun was found in Bodiford's back pocket at the hospital where he was taken; however, witnesses to the shooting never saw Bodiford with a handgun.

Williams argues that the jury could not have found that he directly committed the murder because Killens admitted to law enforcement that he fired his own weapon, and then testified at trial that he was the one that fired the handgun and that he did so in self-defense. But, there was other witness testimony to the contrary. And, it is the role of the jury as the fact-finder to resolve any conflicts in the evidence and to determine questions of witness credibility. Faulkner v. State, 295 Ga. 321, 322 (1) (a) (758 S.E.2d 817) (2014). Even if the jury concluded that Killens fired the handgun, there was ample evidence that Williams was " concerned in the commission" of the murder, and thus, he was legally culpable for it. OCGA § 16-2-20; [2] Williams v. State, 291 Ga. 501, 504 (1) (c) (732 S.E.2d 47) (2012).

The evidence was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find Williams guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of malice murder. Jackson v. Virginia, supra.

Judgments affirmed. All the Justices concur.


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