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Hughley v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

February 27, 2015

HUGHLEY
v.
THE STATE

Page 538

Voluntary manslaughter, etc. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Carter.

Judgment affirmed.

Kevin A. Anderson, Jimmonique R. S. Rodgers, for appellant.

Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Sheryl D. Freeman, Elizabeth A. Baker, Assistant District Attorneys, for appellee.

BOGGS, Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Branch, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 539

Boggs, Judge.

Kleo Kelronte Hughley was convicted of voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of malice murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.[1] Hughley's amended motion for new trial was denied, and he appeals. He contends the evidence was insufficient to disprove his defense of justification, that he was wrongly convicted for possession of a firearm during commission of the crime of voluntary manslaughter, that the trial court erred in giving a jury instruction, and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Finding no error, we affirm.

Construed to support the jury's verdict, the evidence shows that Hughley and three companions were riding around in a car, smoking marijuana and in the case of one passenger " doing ecstasy." When Hughley, who was driving, stopped at a gas station to buy gas and cigarillos, the victim approached Hughley and asked for marijuana. When Hughley refused, believing that the victim was trying to rob him, the victim left and drove to a nearby apartment complex, where he told an acquaintance that he had had words at the gas station with someone who thought he was trying to rob him.

[330 Ga.App. 787] Some time later, Hughley and his companions entered the same apartment complex and parked. Hughley left the vehicle and returned; shortly afterward, the victim approached the car, " smiling" and " looking like he wanted something." One of Hughley's companions testified that she did not believe the victim was trying to rob them, but that he appeared to be " on something, like he was too happy" ; that is, under the influence of narcotics. The victim tried to open the passenger door but could not because it was missing its exterior handle. He then began knocking on the window and exclaimed, " Let me holler at you. Come here." When everyone told him to " get away from the car" he walked toward the rear of the car.

Hughley then got out of the car and pointed a gun at the victim. The victim began to back away to the rear of the car, and Hughley " just shot him." Hughley returned to the car and exclaimed that it was an attempted robbery. Hughley testified at trial that the victim pulled a gun on him, and that he saw another individual with whom he had had a previous " altercation" nearby, pulling a bandana over his face. But this individual testified and said that he was some distance away speaking with a friend when he heard the gunshot. Two witnesses testified that they did not see a gun on the victim, the victim's girlfriend testified that he did not have a gun

Page 540

immediately before the incident, and the police found no firearm on or near the victim.

1. Hughley asserts that because the State failed to disprove his defense of justification or self-defense, the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.

When an appellate court reviews the sufficiency of the evidence, the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This familiar standard gives full play to the responsibility of the trier of fact fairly to resolve conflicts in the testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate facts. Once a defendant has been found guilty of the crime charged, the factfinder's role as weigher of the evidence ...

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