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McLeod v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

May 11, 2015

McLEOD
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Crisp Superior Court. Before Judge Pridgen.

David J. Walker, for appellant.

Denise D. Fachini, District Attorney, Bradford L. Rigby, Assistant District Attorney; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Michael A. Oldham, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 642

Benham, Justice.

Appellant Jennifer Renay McLeod was convicted for the murders of Harold Reese, Jr., and Jerry Lee Lawrence, along with

Page 643

related crimes.[1] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, it shows appellant effectively served as " bait" to entice a [297 Ga. 100] person she believed to be a drug dealer who carried money on him to come to her home on the pretext of having a sexual encounter. In fact, she was setting him up to be robbed by her two co-conspirators -- her live-in boyfriend Amin Dennis, and Amin's brother, Corey Dennis.

On the evening of August 25, 2009, appellant and the two Dennis brothers drove to a gas station where they noticed Reese. Believing that Reese was a drug dealer who had money, they agreed to rob him. At the gas station, appellant spoke to Reese and obtained his phone number. The trio agreed to a plan by which appellant would call Reese to entice him to come to her residence, and when Reese arrived Amin and Corey would rob him. After appellant called Reese several times and Reese stated he was coming to appellant's home, Amin and Corey hid in the back of the home, where Amin was armed with a .380 semiautomatic pistol and a .38 snub-nosed revolver, and Corey was armed with a .22 handgun. Once Reese arrived at the house, appellant signaled Amin and Corey, and they came out from their hiding place and subdued Reese, binding his wrists and ankles with black zipties, and placing duct tape around his mouth and neck. While doing this, the brothers wore latex gloves. As appellant sat nearby, the brothers took approximately $1,500 from Reese, along with marijuana, a cell phone, and keys. Amin went to Reese's vehicle which was parked outside the residence and removed certain electronics. Upon entering the vehicle, they discovered Lawrence, who was so intoxicated that he did not require restraint.

The two brothers placed the restrained Reese in the back seat of Reese's vehicle along with Lawrence. Corey kept his gun at the ready while Amin drove Reese's vehicle to a cotton field. Appellant followed [297 Ga. 101] in her own vehicle and remained inside it. When the parties arrived at the field, Lawrence got out of the vehicle, and Amin held a gun to Lawrence while he demanded money from Reese. Amin shot Lawrence and killed him. Reese ran out of his vehicle into the field, and Amin chased after him, while appellant turned her vehicle in the direction of the field to provide light for the chase. Amin then shot Reese, killing him. The two men placed Lawrence's body in Reese's vehicle, drove it into the field, and set it on fire. The three co-indictees then drove back to appellant's house in her car, and on the way they discarded the .38 snub-nosed revolver by throwing it onto a creek bank. The trio split the money and marijuana, and Amin and Corey took the remaining weapons and the stolen electronics to hide them at their mother's house. The day following the murders, Corey

Page 644

burned, at his mother's house, the clothes the three were wearing on the prior night along with a gold chain which was identified as being similar to one Reese owned. The group also burned several other items relating to the crimes in front of appellant's residence.

The victims' bodies and the burned automobile were recovered following a telephone call made to 911 concerning a burning automobile. Bullets were recovered from both bodies, and the State's expert concluded they were .38 caliber bullets fired from the same weapon, a revolver. Appellant told a friend about these events, and the friend informed authorities. Based on the information provided, the authorities uncovered a damaged revolver, either a .357 or .38 special. The authorities interviewed appellant and, after being informed of her rights, appellant admitted she lured Reese to her home for the purpose of robbery, and also disclosed that she, Amin, and Corey all burned the clothes they were wearing following the murders. Keys recovered from a burn pile in the front yard of appellant's residence fit the locks on Reese's home, another vehicle he owned, and a storage room he rented. A search of the interior of the residence revealed ties consistent with those found at the crime scene and fastened to Reese's body.

1. Appellant asserts the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions for the murder, aggravated assault, and kidnapping of Lawrence because she was unaware that Lawrence was in the back seat of Reese's vehicle when her accomplices entered it and drove off. Appellant claims that even though she followed the brothers in her own car to the site where these crimes were committed, no evidence was presented that she knew of Lawrence's presence or knew what the Dennis brothers were doing to him at any time before he was killed. Although the State's theory was that appellant was a party to these crimes, according to appellant the evidence was insufficient to [297 Ga. 102] prove either that she directly committed the crimes against Lawrence, or ...


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