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Ellis v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 8, 2015

ELLIS
v.
THE STATE

Custodial statement. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Collier.

Rodney A. Williams, for appellant.

Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Elizabeth A. Baker, Jay M. Jackson, Assistant District Attorneys, for appellee.

MILLER, Judge. Branch, J., concurs. Andrews, P. J., concurs in judgment only.

OPINION

Page 239

Miller, Judge.

Following a jury trial, Raymond Charles Ellis, Jr., was convicted of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime (OCGA § 16-11-106 (b) (1)), theft by receiving stolen property (OCGA § 16-8-7 (a)), obstructing

Page 240

an officer (OCGA § 16-10-24 (a)), and driving on a suspended license (OCGA § 40-5-121 (a)). Ellis appeals from the denial of his motion for new trial, contending that the trial court erred in admitting his custodial statements into evidence because the statements were obtained after he clearly invoked his right to counsel. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury verdict,[1] the evidence shows that the victim drove to the Southern Springs apartment complex in Morrow to purchase a dog. The victim had a friend follow him to the location. Upon arriving at the apartment complex, the victim was directed to go to the back of a building to find the dog. When the victim did not find the dog, he walked back to his car. Three individuals then approached the victim, and one of the individuals cocked a pistol and pointed it at the victim. The victim got on the ground, and the assailants took the victim's wallet, which held approximately $1,160 in cash, and the victim's cell phone. Ellis and some of the assailants then got into the victim's car.

Ellis, who had a suspended license, drove the victim's car. As Ellis drove off, the victim got into his friend's car, and they followed Ellis. By this time, the victim's friend had called the police. A short time later, police officers joined the pursuit and followed Ellis as he [332 Ga.App. 884] drove to another apartment complex. Once inside the apartment complex, Ellis and another individual exited the victim's car and began to run.

The pursuing officer stopped and exited his vehicle and began chasing Ellis. During the chase, Ellis dropped a loaded gun that was later recovered by the police officer. The parties stipulated that the gun had previously been stolen. Ignoring the police officer's commands to stop, Ellis kept running after he dropped the gun, and he only stopped when he tripped and fell, at which point the police officer drew his service weapon and ordered Ellis to remain still. Ellis was then handcuffed, arrested, and transported to the police department for an interview.

Prior to commencing the police interview, which was recorded, the detective began to advise Ellis of his rights as follows:

DETECTIVE: Before we get started, I need to advise you of your rights. I'm going to hand you this Miranda form. And I want you to -- I want you to read along with what I am saying. And if you understand, ...

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