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Lamar v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

May 11, 2015

LAMAR
v.
THE STATE

Page 637

Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Schwall.

S. Cindy Wang, for appellant.

Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Paige Reese Whitaker, Arthur C. Walton, Assistant District Attorneys; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Clint C. Malcolm, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 638

Melton, Justice.

Following a jury trial, Kevin Deshawn Lamar was found guilty of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon with regard to the murder of Rickey McCrae. Lamar was also found guilty of the aggravated assault of Marc Williams.[1] Lamar appeals, contending among other things, that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the record shows that, on the evening of March 17, 2009, a man wearing a cap, athletic jacket, and backpack approached McCrae while he was attending a barbeque cookout. The approaching man pulled out a handgun, fatally shot McCrae, and fled the scene. Approximately a week after the shooting, Brandon Snow informed police that he was at a small apartment complex a short walking distance from the scene of the crime on the night of McCrae's murder. Snow recounted that Lamar, wearing a backpack, ran up to him and exclaimed that he had just done " some real hot sh-t" and needed a ride out of the area. Testimony at Lamar's trial indicated that " doing some real hot sh-t" is a euphemism for shooting someone. In addition, Antwan Davis informed police that he had been with Lamar immediately before the [297 Ga. 90] shooting, and Lamar told him that he " had to go do something and he didn't know how it was going to turn out."

A few days after the shooting, Lamar and Williams got into an altercation when Williams went to pick up one of his children at Lamar's apartment, where Lamar lived with Davis and others. In the middle of the argument, which occurred on Lamar's doorstep, Lamar went inside for a moment and returned with a handgun. Williams testified that he felt threatened by the handgun, and Davis stated that Lamar waved the gun around. Williams left the apartment momentarily, but returned with police. Lamar opened the door with the gun in his hand,

Page 639

but, before he was detained and arrested by the police, he apparently threw the handgun into a trash can. Davis informed police that Lamar routinely carried this handgun. Davis also told police that Lamar normally wears a backpack wherever he goes. The gun that Lamar was holding during his confrontation with Williams was subjected to ballistic testing and determined to be the weapon that was used to kill McCrae.

This evidence was sufficient to enable the jury to find Lamar guilty of the crimes for which he was charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). Nonetheless, Lamar maintains that Broderick Stallings actually killed McCrae. Lamar argues that Stallings had the motive to commit the crime because McCrae had been in an altercation with Stallings's father on the day of the murder. At trial, however, Stallings was thoroughly examined by Lamar, and, though Lamar argued that Stallings was guilty, the jury believed Stallings's alibi testimony rather than Lamar's accusations. As the arbiter of witness credibility, the jury was entitled to make this determination. See Hall v. State, 264 Ga. 85 (1) (441 S.E.2d 245) (1994).

2. Lamar contends that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of two similar transactions. We disagree.

Under the law applicable at the time of Lamar's trial,[2] evidence of a similar transaction may be ...


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