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Henry v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

May 11, 2015


Page 679

Murder. Lowndes Superior Court. Before Judge Horkan.

Lorie L. Williams-Smith, for appellant.

J. David Miller, District Attorney, Jessica W. Clark, Meredith G. Brasher, Assistant District Attorneys; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Ryan A. Kolb, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.


Page 680

Blackwell, Justice.

Brandon Henry was tried by a Lowndes County jury and convicted of murder and other crimes, all in connection with the fatal [297 Ga. 75] shooting of John Golden. Henry appeals, contending that the evidence is legally insufficient to sustain his convictions and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Upon our review of the record and briefs, we see no error, and we affirm.[1]

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows that Cassandra Reynolds purchased an AK-47 for Henry's use and kept it in a closet in her home. On the evening of August 9, 2010, Henry attended a party, where he broke up one of several fights involving Nemiah Robinson. Golden, who was Robinson's stepfather, also intervened before returning home. Meanwhile, Henry went to Reynolds's house, entered it by kicking in a window, grabbed Reynolds, pushed her into the closet, and " tore everything down in the closet" until he found the gun. After Henry left Reynolds's home, Tressie Anthony saw him on the street yelling, cursing, saying that he had a loaded AK-47, and asking " where was the guy who had his shirt off outside talking trash." Anthony then saw Henry step onto Golden's front porch and repeatedly fire the AK-47, striking Golden 15 times and killing him. Shortly afterwards, Henry told a lifelong friend that he had shot someone, and he threw unspent bullets and cartridges (of the

Page 681

same caliber used in the shooting) over a fence behind his girlfriend's house.

Henry argues in a cursory manner that the evidence is not sufficient to support his conviction of malice murder, and he confuses the standard of review, asserting that the verdict is not consistent with the weight of the evidence. " When we consider the legal sufficiency of the evidence, we must put aside any questions about conflicting evidence, the credibility of witnesses, or the weight of the evidence, leaving the resolution of such things to the discretion of the trier of fact." Walker v. State, 296 Ga. 161, 163 (1) (766 S.E.2d 28) (2014) (citation and punctuation omitted). Applying the proper standard of review, we conclude that the evidence adduced at trial was legally sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Henry was guilty of the crimes of which he was [297 Ga. 76] convicted. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

2. Henry also contends that his trial counsel was ineffective in several respects. To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance, Henry must prove both that the performance of his lawyer was deficient and that he was prejudiced by this deficient performance. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (III) (104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674) (1984). To prove that the performance of his lawyer was deficient, Henry must show that the lawyer performed his duties at trial in an objectively unreasonable way, considering all the circumstances, and in the light of prevailing professional norms. Id. at 687-688 (III) (A). See also Kimmelman v. Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 381 (II) (C) (106 S.Ct. 2574, 91 L.Ed.2d 305) (1986). And to prove that he was prejudiced by the performance of his lawyer, Henry must show " a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694 (III) (B). See also Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 391 (III) (120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389) (2000). This burden is a heavy one, see Kimmelman, 477 U.S. at 382 (II) (C), and we conclude that Henry has failed to carry it.

(a) Henry claims that his lawyer failed to consult with him properly. Henry testified that his lawyer met with him only twice for a short time and would not listen to him. " Although this testimony was rebutted by that of counsel, in any event, there is no magic amount of time which counsel must spend in actual conference with his client." Lowe v. State, 295 Ga. 623, 627 (4) (759 S.E.2d 841) (2014) (citation and punctuation omitted). See also Glass v. State, 289 Ga. 542, 548 (6) (a) (712 S.E.2d 851) (2011). The lawyer testified that Henry was a " jerk" who would " rant and rave like a crazed lunatic" and that the lawyer would finally just leave. To the extent that there was a restriction of communication between Henry and his lawyer, the evidence supports a finding that it was due to Henry being an uncooperative and belligerent client. See Davis v. State, 295 Ga. 168, 171 (3) (b), n. 3 (758 S.E.2d 296) (2014). The lawyer's testimony shows that he provided Henry with a copy of discovery and made reasonable efforts to discuss with Henry the charges against him, the possibility of entering a guilty plea, and the advisability of testifying on his own behalf. See Williams v. State, 281 Ga. 196 (637 S.E.2d 25) (2006). Having reviewed the testimony of Henry and his trial lawyer at the hearing on the motion for new trial, we conclude that Henry failed to show inadequate communication by his lawyer. See Browder v. State, 294 Ga. 188, 193 (4) (751 S.E.2d 354) (2013). Moreover, Henry " does not specifically describe how additional communications with his lawyer [297 Ga. 77] would have changed the outcome of his trial." Glass, 289 Ga. at 548 (6) (a) (citations and punctuation omitted). See also Lowe, 295 Ga. at 627 (4).

(b) Henry also asserts that his lawyer failed to investigate the case properly by interviewing several witnesses. The lawyer did interview Reynolds and Anthony, but Henry complains that his lawyer failed to investigate a man who was living with Reynolds, a man who, Henry argues, had access to the ...

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