Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Schwall.
C.F. Brock & Associates, Chaunda Brock, 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, Matthew B. Crowder, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
NAHMIAS, Justice. All the Justices concur.
Appellant Jarquez Jones was convicted of two counts of malice murder for the shooting deaths of Thaddeus Nelson and Randy Wilder; four counts of aggravated assault for shooting toward Amanda Hill, Alexis Jenkins, Audra McCluster, and Shametia McCluskey; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Appellant argues that the trial court erred in not charging the jury on voluntary manslaughter and that his sentence of two consecutive terms of life imprisonment plus 85 years constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. We affirm.
1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence at trial showed the following. Appellant, his brother Samuel Jones, and his cousin Ladarrius Jones were part of the " Bluff Gang," a rap group in the Atlanta neighborhood known as the Bluff. On September 13, 2010, Appellant and Samuel's mother posted insulting remarks on Samuel's girlfriend's Facebook page. Samuel's girlfriend and the four aggravated assault victims were members of the " Young Crew," or " YC," another rap group in the Bluff. After several more insults [296 Ga. 664] were exchanged via Facebook, members of the Bluff Gang and YC took the online dispute to the streets. That night, Appellant and some YC members including Alexis Jenkins had a confrontation, during which insults were exchanged and YC members may have threatened Appellant with a gun and a taser. In response, Appellant drew a gun and then shot at the YC members as they ran away.
Around 3:00 p.m. the next day, September 14, Appellant and YC members had another confrontation, during which Appellant put a gun to Jenkins's head and then fired a shot into the air. Jenkins threatened to get her cousins to fight Appellant, but she did not display a weapon.
Around 10:00 p.m. that night, Appellant again confronted YC members on the street. A witness who saw the encounter testified that Appellant looked like he was going to fight the YC members, and they appeared to exchange angry words. As the witness turned away, the YC members ran past her, and she heard gunshots. Several other witnesses, most of whom were YC members, testified to seeing Appellant shoot at the fleeing group of YC members, which included Jenkins, Hill, McCluster, and McCluskey. The testimony varied as to who was with Appellant (most witnesses said he was with two or three other men), whether his associates had guns, and how many shots were fired. Wilder and Nelson, who were not involved in the dispute between the Bluff Gang and YC, were standing in the area when the shooting began and were the only people hit by the gunfire; they both died from their gunshot wounds. When the first police officer arrived on the scene, Jenkins, who also testified at trial, told him that Appellant and others had been shooting at them. Appellant and his co-indictees were not located that night, but they were arrested six days later after being pulled over for speeding. No witnesses saw any YC members with guns on September 14, and shell casings were recovered only from the area where Appellant had been seen.
At trial, Appellant's defense theory was that he did not participate in the shootings. Appellant did not testify, but he offered two alibi witnesses who claimed that he was in a different area of the Bluff and took cover inside a building with them when the shooting began.
[296 Ga. 665] Appellant does not dispute the legal sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. ...