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Murder. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Benefield.
John W. Kraus, for appellant (case no. S15A0463).
Kevin A. Anderson, for appellant (case no. S15A0464).
Tracy-Graham Lawson, District Attorney, Elizabeth A. Baker, Assistant District Attorney; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Ryan A. Kolb, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
MELTON, Justice. All the Justices concur.
Following a joint jury trial, Chaz Ballard and Singlee Soun were found guilty of felony murder and several other offenses in connection with the shooting death of James Johnson. In these consolidated appeals, Ballard
asserts, among other things, that the evidence presented [297 Ga. 249] at trial was insufficient to support his verdict and that his trial counsel was ineffective (Case No. S15A40463). Soun contends, primarily, that the trial court erred in its jury instructions (Case No. S15A0464). For the reasons that follow, we affirm in both cases.
Case No. S15A0463
1. The evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, shows that, on the night of February 23, 2011, Soun and Ballard met Johnson in room 220 of an Econo Lodge hotel to sell Johnson fake methamphetamine. The day before this meeting, Johnson had pulled approximately $10,000 out of his front pocket to pay Ballard $2,000 to purchase marijuana. At the time of the Econo Lodge meeting, Soun had a rifle with him, and Ballard brought a pistol. When Johnson discovered that the methamphetamine that Soun and Ballard were going to sell to him was fake, Soun and Ballard shot Johnson several times with each of their guns, killing him.
The front desk clerk at the hotel received reports of shots being fired on the second floor of the hotel, and the clerk then observed, via surveillance camera, Soun and Ballard exit room 220 where they had shot Johnson. Soun exited holding a rifle in one hand, and Ballard exited while putting the pistol in his waistband. Ballard also tried to cover his face with his shirt to hide from the surveillance camera. The two then fled in Ballard's truck. After the shooting, only $2,438 was found in Johnson's duffle bag. The remaining sum of over $5,000 that ostensibly should have remained (based on the $10,000 that Johnson had displayed the day before and the $2,000 that he had previously paid to Ballard for marijuana) was never recovered. On the night of the shooting, Ballard admitted to a friend that he had gone to the hotel to " hit ...