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Lucas v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 23, 2015


Attempt. Drug violation. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Carter.

Chaunda F. Brock, for appellant.

Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Elizabeth A. Baker, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

MCMILLIAN, Judge. Ellington, P. J., concurs. Phipps, C. J., concurs in Divisions 1 (b) and 2, and concurs in judgment only as to Division 1 (a).


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McMillian, Judge.

On March 31, 2010, Santonio Demonta Lucas and his co-defendants, Superiore Emonte Allen and Brandon Jaron Norwood, were indicted by a Clayton County grand jury for multiple counts of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, criminal attempt to purchase marijuana, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, and weapons charges arising from the January 18, 2009 shooting deaths of Vandit Patel and Jimmy Prak. Allen and Norwood were convicted of felony murder and other charges stemming from their direct participation in fatally shooting both victims. The jury convicted Lucas of both criminal attempt counts, but acquitted him of all remaining counts. Lucas was sentenced to a total of 30 years, to serve 10.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict,[1] the evidence shows that Lucas, Allen, and Norwood had known each other for years and were members of a rap group. They frequently met at the apartment of their mutual friend, Matthew Fallings. A few days before the shootings, the three men contacted friends asking to borrow a gun. The day before the murders, Lucas and Norwood met [331 Ga.App. 456] with Ricky Martin at Fallings' apartment to borrow his gun, a Hi-Point .45 handgun. Because he " didn't trust" Norwood, Martin gave the gun to Lucas. Allen, meanwhile, told other mutual friends of plans to rob a drug dealer to get " pounds of weed."

On the morning of the murders, twelve-year-old L. W. was walking to his aunt's apartment at Tara Court Apartments when he passed " two Hispanic guys" walking near the corner of the building and " one black guy" walking behind them. The black male was wearing a black jacket and jeans and had " dreads" that were pulled back in a ponytail. When L. W. reached the front door of his aunt's apartment one minute later, he heard multiple gunshots. L. W. was later shown a photographic lineup and identified Lucas as the man he saw following the victims. Other residents who lived in the apartment complex overlooking the crime scene testified that they looked outside their windows

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after hearing a commotion and saw two Hispanic men running from two black males.

According to one witness, Garfield Campbell, all four men ran around the apartment building at one point and then right back into the parking lot. It appeared to him that the victims were attempting to get inside a black Acura, but every time Allen and Norwood got near the Acura, the victims ran away. The taller black male, later shown to be Allen, attacked one of the victims in the parking lot and shot him twice.[2] Campbell saw Allen continue to punch and kick the victim while demanding, " give it up, give it up." The other black male, later identified as Norwood, was fighting the second victim in the pine needles at the wood line. Allen walked over to that area, shot Prak in the head and then returned to Patel.[3] Norwood then " ran over to the [Acura] and started trying to get into the car." Allen continued beating Patel, trying to get information out of him and when he did not cooperate, Allen shot Patel again several times. Both Allen and Norwood then attempted to get inside the Acura, but eventually gave up and ran toward a different section of the apartment complex. A large quantity of what police believed looked and smelled like marijuana was later found in the trunk of Patel's car. The substance was packaged inside ten large, individually wrapped clear plastic bags which were located inside a large, blue duffel bag.

Responding officers immediately began canvassing the surrounding area, and one officer found two men walking about six hundred yards from the shooting about five to ten minutes after the shooting occurred. One of the men was Lucas, who was wearing a black leather [331 Ga.App. 457] jacket and blue jeans and had his dreadlocks pulled to the back of his head in a large ponytail. The officer stopped Lucas and the other man, Tacari Brown, at the intersection of Tara Boulevard and Flint Trail. Although it was a Sunday morning, Lucas claimed he was on the way to a temp agency at Southlake Mall. As the officer was speaking with Lucas, two other males, wearing all black, exited an alley behind a gas station next door. Another officer spoke with those two men, who were identified as Norwood and Keith Allen, Allen's brother. Lucas denied knowing either Norwood or Keith Allen. Campbell was brought to where they were being detained but was unable to identify any of the men, and officers let them leave.

Fallings' girlfriend testified at trial and stated that she lived with Fallings in 2009, and on the day of the shootings, she was returning from an errand when she drove past Lucas and the others as they were being detained by police near where she lived. Within 15 minutes, Lucas, Norwood, and Brown showed up at her apartment. She heard Norwood say " the drugs [are] still in the black Acura." And Fallings testified that Lucas admitted that he had acted as a lookout. Martin, the owner of the gun, received a message from Fallings that morning and immediately went to his apartment where he saw both Lucas and Norwood. Martin demanded his gun back, but Norwood refused, saying that two people were dead and " It's hot right now." Martin yelled at Lucas for giving Norwood his gun. Allen came to Fallings' apartment later and admitted he had shot both victims using Martin's gun.

At trial, Lucas was convicted of criminal attempt to commit armed robbery and criminal attempt to possess marijuana. He now appeals the denial of his motion for new trial, asserting that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress certain statements he made to the police and in denying his motion for directed verdict on Count 16, criminal attempt ...

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