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Wilson v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

May 11, 2015

WILSON
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Liberty Superior Court. Before Judge Stewart.

Robert L. Persse, for appellant.

Tom Durden, District Attorney, Sandra Dutton, Melissa L. Poole, Assistant District Attorneys; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Christian A. Fuller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 690

Benham, Justice.

Appellant Andrea Renee Wilson appeals her convictions for felony murder and other crimes related to the death of Prince Davis.[1] We affirm.

Page 691

The record construed in a light most favorable to the verdict shows the victim was born in June 2004 and had no major health issues except asthma which was under control. In 2005, the victim's mother was incarcerated. In March 2006, the child went to live with appellant, who was the mother's cousin, and her boyfriend, co-defendant Corey Brown. On January 16, 2007, appellant found the victim fallen over in the car seat she had placed him in while she was cooking. Realizing he was not breathing, appellant took the unresponsive victim over to a neighbor's house, and the neighbor called 911. When first responders arrived, they noted that the victim had no pulse and was not breathing and so they rushed him to the hospital. Despite heroic measures, the child could not be revived.

At trial, the medical examiner testified that the child died from battered child syndrome. The child had approximately 200 non-accidental injuries, some of which were acute and some of which were at various stages of healing. These injuries included, among other things, bruising and scarring all over the child's body, blunt force trauma to the brain, bruised kidneys, a necrotic (gangrenous) toe, which resulted from an immersion burn, and bruised and swollen genitalia. The medical examiner testified that the child was also malnourished and had ketones which was indicative of starvation.

Appellant told police that she believed the child had a devil or demon in him and that he often had seizures or " fell out" and injured himself. She also told police that she gave the child prayer oil and had [297 Ga. 87] others pray for him. At trial, appellant testified that she and Brown both hit the child, although she stated that she only hit the child's legs and hands with a switch or a wet washcloth.[2] Appellant stated that Brown would hit the child hard in the back with his hands and would beat the child with a belt. Appellant admitted that she had observed numerous injuries on the child and noted that he was sick and not eating, but never sought medical attention for any of his injuries or any illness prior to the child's death.

1. Appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict because the medical examiner could not pinpoint any one injury or act by appellant that caused the child's death. We disagree.

When construing Georgia's felony murder statute, this Court has held that causing the death of another human being means proximate causation. State v. Jackson, 287 Ga. 646 (2) (697 S.E.2d 757) (2010). " Proximate causation imposes liability for the reasonably foreseeable results of criminal ... conduct if there is no sufficient, independent, and unforeseen intervening cause." Id. at 654. We consider the elements of the felony not in the abstract, but in the actual circumstances in which the felony was committed. Davis v. State, 290 Ga. 757, 760 (4) (725 S.E.2d 280) (2012).

Currier v. State, 294 Ga. 392, 394 (1) (754 S.E.2d 17) (2014). In this case, appellant and Brown were the only caretakers of the child from March 2006 until his death in January 2007. Appellant admitted that she and Brown hit the child. Appellant also admitted that she never sought medical attention for the child, although she was aware that he had injuries and was sick. The medical examiner concluded that the totality of the 200 chronic and acute injuries caused the child's death and that the child's body itself was a " smoking gun." This evidence was sufficient to ...


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