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Norwood v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

June 1, 2015

NORWOOD
v.
THE STATE

Page 226

Murder. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Carter.

Judgment affirmed.

Long D. Vo, for appellant.

Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Elizabeth A. Baker, Kathryn L. Powers, Assistant District Attorneys; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Meghan H. Hill, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

MELTON, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 227

Melton, Justice.

Following a jury trial, Brandon Jaron Norwood was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, and various other offenses in connection with the shooting deaths of Jimmy Prak and Vandit Patel.[1] On appeal Norwood contends that his trial counsel was ineffective and that the trial court erred by failing to merge for sentencing purposes Norwood's aggravated assault charge pertaining to the stabbing of Patel with the felony murder charge against him based on the shooting of Patel. We affirm.

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the evidence reveals that, on January 18, 2009, Norwood, and his co-defendants Superiore Emonte Allen and Santonio Demonta Lucas, planned to meet with Patel (a local marijuana dealer) and Prak at an apartment complex to conduct an arranged drug deal. However, the real plan was for Norwood and his co-defendants to rob the drug dealers. Soon after Patel and Prak arrived to conduct the deal, Lucas, who was serving as the " lookout" for the planned robbery, followed them. Norwood and Allen then started a physical fight with Patel and Prak. Allen and Norwood chased the drug dealers as they tried to flee. Allen went after Patel, and, when Patel fell over and rolled into the apartment complex parking lot, Allen stood over him, shot him, and continued to punch and kick him. In the meantime, Norwood was beating up Prak in an outdoor area that was between two nearby apartments and across from the area where Allen was beating Patel. Allen then walked over to the area where Norwood was beating Prak and shot Prak in the head, killing him. Allen then ran back over to [297 Ga. 227] Patel and shot him two more times. However, Patel was still alive. Norwood also stabbed Patel several times in an attempt to " finish[ ] [him] off" before he and his co-defendants ran away. However, Patel continued to live and was still gasping for air after the assailants left the scene. Patel did die soon thereafter, though, before police arrived. The State's medical examiner testified that Patel died, not from the stab wounds inflicted by Norwood, but from a gunshot wound inflicted to his neck by Allen.

This evidence was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find Norwood guilty of all of the crimes of 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); see also OCGA § 16-2-20 (parties to a crime).

2. Norwood contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object on Confrontation Clause grounds to the admission into evidence of co-defendant Lucas' confession to police about being the lookout for the planned robbery of Patel and Prak. See Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (88 S.Ct. 1620, 20 L.Ed.2d 476) (1968).

In order to succeed on his claim of ineffective assistance, [Norwood] must prove both that his trial counsel's performance was deficient and that there is a reasonable probability that the trial result would have been different if not for the ...

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