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Murder. Screven Superior Court. Before Judge Turner.
Steven L. Sparger, Jackson & Schiavone, Michael G. Schiavone, for appellant.
Richard A. Mallard, District Attorney, Keith A. McIntyre, Assistant District Attorney, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Katherine L. Iannuzzi, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
HUNSTEIN, Justice. All the Justices concur.
Appellant Ricardo Daughtry was convicted of malice murder and other serious crimes in connection with the shooting death of William Watson and of two crimes, possession of cocaine and obstruction of an officer, that occurred several months after the shooting of Watson. On appeal, Appellant contends that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented at trial showed the following.
On the evening of Saturday, June 16, 2007, Appellant, Jeremy Williams, and Terry Calahan were at William Watson's apartment. Appellant and Williams sold Calahan cocaine, and Calahan left the apartment. Watson proceeded to " cook" Appellant's cocaine in the apartment. The batch was not cooking properly, and Appellant told Watson, " If you don't get my s... right, I'm going to f... you up." Williams saw Appellant reach for a pistol and fled the apartment. When he was about 40 yards from the apartment, Williams heard gunshots and saw a black male run from the apartment holding a [296 Ga. 850] shirt over his face. After midnight, in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 17, Watson's next door neighbor, who was on her porch, heard three loud bangs, which she thought could have been gunshots. She then saw a black male run from the apartment holding a shirt over his face. He was ten feet from her.
Later that morning around 6:00 a.m., Appellant appeared at Williams' house, acting nervous. Appellant told Williams that he had shot Watson five times and tried to shoot him a sixth time in the head but was out of ammunition. Appellant also told Williams that " [t]he man f..... up. The man f..... up."
Tony Scott, who employed the victim as a carpenter, testified that the victim began a job for him installing an air conditioner on June 16 and that he took the victim home about 10:00 p.m. Because the job was not complete, Scott went by the victim's apartment on Sunday, June 17. He repeatedly knocked on the door but no one answered. He also repeatedly called the victim on Sunday but got no answer. Scott also attempted to contact the victim at his apartment and by phone on Monday, June 18, but could not reach him.
On Monday, June 18, 2007, Appellant and a friend, Travis Oliver, paid a mutual acquaintance, Darrick Barrett, to drive them down a road that crossed the Ogeechee River. When Barrett's car approached the river, Appellant and Oliver asked Barrett to stop on the bridge. Barrett did so, and Appellant and Oliver got out of the car. Oliver saw Appellant throw a gun, with the magazine removed, into the river.
Watson's sister testified that she and Watson either talked every day or he would come
by her house and visit her. She testified that she called him several times on June 17 because she had not heard from him, but that he did not answer. She added that she called him again on the morning of June 19, but still did not get an answer. Concerned, she went by his apartment that day to check on him. When she arrived there, the door was unlocked. She went in and discovered Watson, unresponsive, in the bathtub, and called 911. Law enforcement officers arrived on the scene and concluded that Watson had been shot and was deceased.
The medical examiner said that Watson had seven gunshot entrance wounds, three to the upper chest, one to the abdomen, one to the hip, and two to his left arm. According to the medical examiner, it was possible that the victim had been shot only five times, with the two entrance wounds to the left arm exiting the arm and entering the victim's body. The victim died from multiple gunshot wounds. Investigators found five shell casings in or near Watson's bathroom and two bullets. Agent Sapp of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation noticed a white residue all over the stove, which she believed was cocaine. There was also baking soda in the kitchen and two to three [296 Ga. 851] hundred devices used for smoking crack cocaine. A coffee pot had a white residue, which tested positive for cocaine. Agent Sapp collected three fingerprints from a plate in Watson's kitchen, which matched Appellant's fingerprints.
Additionally, Watson's cell phone was found on his body, and Agent Purdiman of the GBI recorded the phone number of the caller on the last answered and received call on Watson's phone, which was at 12:45 a.m. on June 17. As further investigation would uncover, that phone number was Appellant's. On June 19 at 5:18 p.m, Agent Purdiman called Appellant's phone number from Watson's phone, identified himself as a GBI agent, and notified the person that answered that he was investigating Watson's murder. The person on the other end hung up. The agent was never able to reach a person at that phone number again.
About two hours after Agent Purdiman's call, Appellant and Oliver went to a Lowe's store, where Appellant bought a black light. A photograph of Appellant at the register purchasing the black light, with Oliver standing near him, was introduced into evidence, as was the receipt for the black light, which contained a time stamp of 7:12 p.m. on June 19. On their way home, Oliver and Appellant stopped at a friend's motel room, where Appellant shined the black light on his hands and asked Oliver if he could see anything. Oliver told him that he could not.
A few days later, at Appellant's request, Barrett drove Appellant and Kurtis Sheppard to Atlanta and left Appellant there.
On July 10, 2007, a police dive team found a .380 caliber handgun with the magazine removed in the Ogeechee River. A firearms identification expert testified that the gun, on which the serial number was scratched out, fired the shell casings found in Watson's apartment. However, the markings on the spent rounds were too poor to make a match. Williams, Sheppard, and Oliver all testified that this ...