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Sims v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

June 29, 2015

SIMS
v.
THE STATE

Page 621

Murder. Rockdale Superior Court. Before Judge Irwin.

Coxen & Worthington, Beau A. Worthington, for appellant.

Richard R. Read, District Attorney, Roberta A. Earnhardt, Dabney Y. Kentner, 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.

HUNSTEIN, Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Page 622

Hunstein, Justice.

Appellant James Revera Sims II was convicted of malice murder and related offenses in connection with the April 11, 2011 death of Cayden Allen, a nearly three-year-old child. He appeals, asserting, inter alia, that the trial court erred in admitting a video recording made by police in appellant's apartment. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.[1]

Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the evidence adduced at trial established as follows. Cayden's mother left for work on the afternoon of April 8, 2011. She left Cayden in the care of appellant, her boyfriend. At 6:10 p.m., appellant called 911 and requested an ambulance. A police officer arrived at appellant's apartment ahead of emergency personnel. He found Cayden lying on his back on the living room couch and observed a lump on Cayden's forehead. Appellant was standing nearby. Cayden was unconscious; he never moved. His breathing was shallow and agonal. Appellant told the officer that Cayden had been playing in his room with his toys when he went to check on him; Cayden had soiled himself and [297 Ga. 402] indicated he wanted to go to the bathroom; as appellant began to take Cayden to the bathroom, Cayden stood up, fell down, struck the back of his head, and lost consciousness; he brought Cayden to the bathroom where he tried to rouse him with water to no avail; and he then placed Cayden on the couch and called emergency personnel.

Police Lieutenant Dunn and Detective Jones arrived at the apartment at 6:45 p.m. Lt. Dunn asked appellant if he would show the officers what happened to Cayden. Appellant responded affirmatively and invited the officers upstairs to Cayden's bedroom. Using his smartphone, Lt. Dunn made a video recording of appellant's account at that time. Appellant said that as he was taking Cayden to the bathroom, he took Cayden's hand; Cayden slipped out of his grip and fell backwards; and he saw Cayden lying on his back, choking. Then, at Lt. Dunn's request, appellant demonstrated Cayden's position on the floor following his fall. Lt. Dunn observed that Cayden's bedroom floor was carpeted, padded, and covered, in part, by a play mat.

In the meantime, emergency personnel arrived on the scene and transported Cayden to the hospital. The emergency room physician determined that Cayden suffered severe brain injuries and was almost dead. He was put on a ventilator and airlifted to a pediatric trauma center within an hour. Cayden never regained consciousness and died on April 11, 2011.

A pediatrician at the trauma center observed multiple bruises to Cayden's head, torso, legs and genitalia. She opined that Cayden's brain injuries resulted from severe, multiple impacts to his head. The medical examiner reached the same conclusion -- blunt force head trauma caused Cayden's death, not an accidental fall.

1. The evidence is sufficient to enable any rational trier of fact to find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979); see Loren v. State, 268 Ga. 792 (1) (493 S.E.2d 175) (1997).

2. Relying upon OCGA ยง 16-11-62 (2), which makes it unlawful for " [a]ny person, through the use of any device, without the consent of all persons observed, to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view," ...


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