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Watford v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

June 15, 2015

WATFORD
v.
THE STATE

Forgery, etc. Cobb Superior Court. Before Judge Grubbs.

Judgment affirmed.

Frederick M. Scherma, for appellant.

D. Victor Reynolds, District Attorney, Daniel J. Quinn, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

ANDREWS, Presiding Judge. Miller and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 453

Andrews, Presiding Judge.

Following a jury trial, Andre Craig Watford was convicted of two counts of making a false statement, two counts of forgery in the first degree, giving false information to a law enforcement officer, driving with a suspended license, speeding, and bail jumping. Watford appeals [332 Ga.App. 500] following the denial of his motion for new trial, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and evidence of other crimes or wrongs was improperly admitted at trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, Browder v. State, 294 Ga. 188, 191 (1) (751 S.E.2d 354) (2013), the evidence at trial

Page 454

showed that at approximately 2:00 a.m. on January 16, 2012, an officer with the Cobb County Police Department conducted a traffic stop of a silver 2005 Acura TSX on Interstate 20 after determining with a laser device that the vehicle was traveling 80 miles-per-hour in a 60 mile-per-hour zone. The officer identified Watford at trial as the driver of the vehicle. The driver, who was accompanied by a female passenger, did not have a driver's license with him, and he identified himself as Jamal Hayes and gave a date of birth of December 4, 1987. The driver stated that he had a driver's license from Washington D. C. The officer, however, was unable to find a Jamal Hayes with a Washington D. C. driver's license with the field reporting system in his vehicle, but he found a Jamaal Hayes with a Washington D. C. driver's license and a December 4, 1987 date of birth. The officer wrote the driver a citation for speeding and a separate citation for not having a license on his person. The driver signed both citations as Jamal Hayes. Although the officer was suspicious, he permitted the driver to leave after he wrote the citations.

On February 22, 2012, the officer received a call from Monica Hayes, who lived in Washington D. C. and stated that her son Jamaal Hayes (" Hayes" ) had received paperwork in the mail concerning a traffic citation in Georgia. The officer talked to Hayes on the same day and told Hayes that if he was not the driver of the Acura on the evening in question, he should tell the officer who in Atlanta would be using his name and information. Hayes provided Watford's name. The officer conducted a search of a database that provides information on other police reports from jurisdictions in the Atlanta area and found an incident report involving Andre Watford, which listed a date of birth. The officer located a driver's license photograph of Watford and also found a Facebook page for an Andre Watford who lived in the Atlanta area. The officer testified that he had no doubt that the person in the driver's license photograph and featured in pictures on Facebook was the driver from the January 16, 2012 traffic stop. The officer recognized distinctive blemishes or marks on Watford's forehead. After finding the photographs of Watford and contacting Watford by telephone, the officer secured a warrant for Watford's arrest. After viewing a photograph of Hayes at trial, the officer stated that Hayes was not the driver involved in the stop.

[332 Ga.App. 501] Hayes testified at trial that he met Watford in Washington D. C., he lived in Atlanta from 2006 to 2009, and he and Watford were roommates in Atlanta. He testified that he was not in Atlanta on January 16, 2012 and was not stopped for speeding on Interstate 20. Hayes looked at the signatures on the two citations the officer wrote that night and stated that they were not his. Hayes explained that he gave the officer Watford's name because they were roommates previously and Watford had used his information before. He said that when he was visiting Atlanta in 2011 and riding in a car Watford was driving in the early morning, Watford was pulled over by police and told the officer he was Hayes. Hayes told Watford not to use his information again.

Carlisha Martin testified that she and her ex-husband owned the Acura involved in the traffic stop at issue. She testified that she had known Watford for five years and he was a good friend. Martin stated that Watford used to borrow her car but had recently started driving a red Mercedes he received from his mother, who lived in Maryland. She testified that she was not in the car when it was stopped on January 16, 2012, and that her ex-husband was not driving the car in January 2012. Martin could not recall if ...


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