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White v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

June 1, 2015

WHITE
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Adams.

Judgment affirmed.

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, Jason M. Rea, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

MELTON, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 220

Melton, Justice.

Following a jury trial, Adrian White was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.[1] On appeal, White contends that the trial court committed errors in charging the jury and sentencing and that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the record shows that, on September 8, 2004, White, Marquez Webb, and Demario Thornton were watching television at the apartment of White's mother, Patricia Dean. That evening, the three men went out to the apartment breezeway to smoke cigarettes. At that time, Anthony Jones, who was with his girlfriend, Arlene Long, drove by the breezeway. Jones made eye contact with White, Webb, and Thornton, and stopped his truck. Jones then asked Thornton why he was always making eye contact with him, and the two men began to argue. Jones exited his truck and approached, continuing his argument with Thornton. Webb intervened and tried to prevent a fight. After Dean called out from her apartment and asked White to return home, Jones decided to end the confrontation and began walking away. According to the trial testimony of Webb and Thornton, White then pulled up Thornton's shirt, snatched the gun Thornton was [297 Ga. 219] carrying from his waistband, and shot Jones in the back. Both Webb and Thornton also testified that, following the shooting, they witnessed White beating Jones as he lay on the ground. In addition, Long testified that she witnessed the man whose mother called out to him shoot Jones. She also stated that, after Jones was shot, it took a long time for him to fall to the ground before the beating.

This evidence was sufficient to enable the jury to find White guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

2. White contends that the trial court erred by instructing the jury on the law of mutual combat, arguing that the charge might somehow have distracted the jurors from considering his other defenses. We disagree.

During the charge conference, White requested that the trial court give the pattern charge on mutual combat. The trial court, however, declined to give the charge, stating that it was not adjusted to the evidence.

Page 221

Then, following White's closing arguments, the trial court reversed its decision, finding that the charge was warranted. White did not object to this decision; to the contrary, he agreed with it. In addition, the trial court offered White the opportunity to reopen his closing argument to address mutual combat. White's trial ...


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