Cert. applied for.
Voluntary manslaughter, etc. Spalding Superior Court. Before Judge Sams.
Benjamin D. Goldberg, for appellant.
Scott L. Ballard, District Attorney, Robert W. Smith, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.
PHIPPS, Chief Judge. Ellington, P. J., and McMillian, J., concur.
Phipps, Chief Judge.
For the shooting death of Cody Ward, a jury found Joseph Parrott guilty of voluntary manslaughter (as a lesser included offense to the charge of murder), aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Ward was initially sentenced on all three counts. But in post-conviction proceedings, the trial court vacated the aggravated assault sentence, merging the aggravated assault into the voluntary manslaughter for sentencing purposes.
In this appeal, Parrott contends that the trial court erred by failing to take corrective action when the prosecutor made an improper remark during closing argument, by not including certain instructions in its final charge to the jury, and by rejecting his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. For reasons that follow, we affirm.
The trial evidence showed the following. Parrott was 16 years old with an eighth-grade education when he fatally shot 19-year-old Ward. Parrott and Ward were neighbors, and part of the same circle of friends. During a temporary break-up between Ward and his girlfriend, Parrott had sex with her. Ward found out; he was upset and wanted to meet with Parrott.
On the day in question, November 21, 2008, Parrott agreed to meet Ward at Ward's home to discuss the situation. A mutual friend had left Ward's home and walked to Parrott's residence to accompany Parrott back to Ward's house. As the mutual friend recounted at trial, in several calls he had with Parrott earlier that day, Parrott had expressed concern that " we were going to jump him [Parrott]." So as they walked together toward Ward's house, Parrott carried with him a rifle. It was about 6:00 p.m.
Rather than walking directly to Ward's residence, Parrott and the friend headed first to the residence of the friend's girlfriend. She lived across the street from Ward. When Parrott and his friend had walked about 50 yards up the gravel driveway of the girlfriend's residence, they heard footsteps behind them and looked back. It was Ward.
Parrott's friend gave this account of the shooting that ensued. Ward -- who " wasn't running, he was just steadily walking up the driveway" -- was about ten feet away. Parrott told Ward to stop; Ward stopped and put his hands up in the air. Parrott " started shooting I think he shot about four times." Ward collapsed. As Ward lay on the [330 Ga.App. 802] ground, Parrott shot him several times in the back, then ran into nearby woods.
Ward was unarmed when he was fatally shot. As was later determined, one bullet entered Ward's front abdomen and passed through his aorta; a second bullet entered Ward's back and passed through his kidney, liver, and diaphragm; a third bullet entered his upper buttock and lodged in his sacrum. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy opined that, while the third bullet was a " minor gunshot wound," either of the other two bullets could have inflicted fatal injury.
A police investigator assigned to the case testified that Parrott was located the morning after the shooting and brought into the sheriff's office. Parrott agreed to give a statement. Therein, Parrott admitted that he had discharged the rifle about four times
before Ward hit the ground. The investigator described that, as Parrott recounted the incident, " [Parrott] was very cold. It was almost like he didn't care... ...