Shaheed Kaba Huff was convicted of malice murder, aggravated
assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of
a felony in connection with the shooting death of Graham
Sisk. The trial court denied Huff's motion
for new trial, and he appeals, asserting insufficiency of the
evidence, errors in the trial court's charge to the jury,
and ineffective assistance of trial counsel. For the reasons
that follow, we affirm.
in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the
evidence presented at trial showed that Huff asked Turner,
Starr, and Haygood to assist him in moving some personal
belongings, using a pickup truck and an SUV that he owned.
During the move, Huff announced that he "had to make a
play, " or drug deal, and Turner declared that the drug
purchaser would only deal with him. Huff provided a bag of
pills to Turner, who drove Huff's pickup truck to a
restaurant on Memorial Drive. Huff, driving his SUV with Starr
and Haygood as passengers, observed the transaction from
across the street. The victim took the pills, ostensibly to
count them, and then drove away without paying.
pursued the victim in Huff's truck, followed by Huff
driving the SUV. A high-speed chase ensued along city streets
at rush hour, seen by numerous eyewitnesses and captured on
surveillance video, during which Turner rammed the
victim's car, damaging Huff's truck. When the
victim's car was stopped behind another vehicle at a
traffic signal, Turner got out of the truck and began
shouting at the victim and pulling on the car doors so hard
that he broke off the handles. Shortly thereafter, Huff drove
his SUV into the oncoming lane around the stopped traffic and
into the intersection, blocking the travel lane. Starr
testified that Huff told him to take a pistol from the front
console and recover the pills, or else Huff would kill him.
Witnesses saw Starr and Haygood get out of the SUV and
approach the victim's car quickly and "with a
purpose"; Starr immediately fired multiple rounds at the
victim through the passenger side window, killing him; Starr
and Haygood then fled on foot while Turner and Huff drove
away. The pills were recovered by police and proved to be
over-the-counter allergy medicine.
gave a statement to police in which he said that he asked
Turner, Haygood, and Starr to assist him with moving
furniture, and that Turner asked to borrow his pickup truck
to conduct some business, then drove away with his truck.
Huff acknowledged to police, however, that he owned the SUV
and was driving it during the incident. At trial, Huff
presented testimony from Turner that Turner found
approximately 200 pills in a dumpster behind a medical
clinic, that "somebody" told him they were
"Percocet, " and that he decided to sell them to
the victim. Turner testified that he chose to pursue the
victim when he drove away, and that Huff knew nothing about
the drug transaction. Huff also presented testimony from
Haygood that when Turner left in pursuit of the victim, Huff
exclaimed, "He's going to kill someone in my
vehicle" and "I got to get my truck." While
Haygood testified that Huff instructed him to ask what Turner
was doing with his truck and that he told Turner not to move
it, Turner testified that "no one said anything" to
him while he was at the victim's car.
first contends that the evidence was insufficient to support
his convictions, because Starr's testimony as an
accomplice or party to the crime was the only evidence
identifying him as a participant. The record, however, does
not support this claim.
OCGA § 24-14-8 provides that corroboration is required to
support a guilty verdict in "felony cases where the only
witness is an accomplice, " only slight evidence of
corroboration is required. See Bradford v. State,
261 Ga. 833, 834 (1) (412 S.E.2d 534) (1992). "[T]he
necessary corroboration may consist entirely of
circumstantial evidence, and evidence of the defendant's
conduct before and after the crime was committed may give
rise to an inference that he participated in the crime."
(Citations omitted.) Berry v. State, 248 Ga. 430,
432 (1) (283 S.E.2d 888) (1981) (overruled on other grounds,
Hutchins v. State, 284 Ga. 395 (667 S.E.2d 589)
Huff's statement to police as well as the testimony of
his own witnesses placed him on the scene. Moreover, both of
Huff's witnesses testified that Huff engaged in the
pursuit, and that he pulled into the oncoming lane around the
line of cars and into the intersection in front of the
victim. The testimony of one accomplice may corroborate that
of another. Herbert v. State, 288 Ga. 843, 844 (1)
(708 S.E.2d 260) (2011). Eyewitnesses testified that the two
men who got out of Huff's SUV did not approach the pickup
truck or seem interested in it, but moved directly to the
victim's car. And Turner testified that Huff met him
afterwards and told him to follow him to a nearby location,
where Starr appeared and spoke with Turner, then had a
discussion with Huff out of Turner's hearing.
evidence, which was related to Huff's conduct before,
during, and after the crimes and connected Huff to the crimes
charged, was sufficient to corroborate Starr's testimony
that Huff joined in the pursuit not out of concern for his
truck or other motorists' safety, but to recover his
drugs from the victim. See id. (appellant's admission
that he drove two alleged accomplices to scene, together with
their testimony and physical evidence, was sufficient to
corroborate accomplice testimony). See also Handley v.
State, 289 Ga. 786, 786-787 (1) (716 S.E.2d 176) (2011)
(even in absence of forensic evidence, multiple alleged
accomplices may corroborate one another's testimony).The
sufficiency of the corroboration was a matter for the jury to
determine. Id. There was no violation of OCGA §
24-14-8, and we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to
enable a rational trier of fact to find Huff guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted.
See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct.
2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
next contends that the trial court erred in failing to
instruct the jury that the testimony of an accomplice must be
corroborated. OCGA § 24-14-8 provides in its entirety:
The testimony of a single witness is generally sufficient to
establish a fact. However, in certain cases, including
prosecutions for treason, prosecutions for perjury, and
felony cases where the only witness is an accomplice, the
testimony of a single witness shall not be sufficient.
Nevertheless, corroborating circumstances may dispense with
the necessity for the testimony of a second witness, except
in prosecutions for treason.
having neither requested the instruction nor objected to its
omission, we review this enumeration solely for plain error
under OCGA § 17-8-58 (b). Sanders v. State, 290
Ga. 637, 640 (2) (723 S.E.2d 436) (2012). In so doing,
the proper inquiry is whether the instruction was erroneous,
whether it was obviously so, and whether it likely affected
the outcome of the proceedings. If all three of these
questions are answered in the affirmative, the appellate
court has the discretion to reverse if the error seriously
affects the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of the
proceedings below. Satisfying all four prongs of this
standard is difficult, as it should be.
(Citations and punctuation omitted.) State v. Kelly,
290 Ga. 29, 33 (2) (a) (718 S.E.2d 232) (2011). As noted in
Division (1), evidence from multiple witnesses, including
Huff's witnesses and Huff himself, corroborated
Starr's testimony. Pretermitting whether the failure to
instruct the jury on ...