Kajul Tawice Harvey was convicted of malice murder, burglary
and other crimes in connection with the death of her mother,
Alena Marie Marble. She appeals, asserting, inter alia, the
evidence of guilt was insufficient, and her trial counsel was
ineffective. We find no harmful error and affirm
appellant's convictions and sentences, except for the
conviction and sentence for hindering the apprehension of a
criminal, which must be vacated.
Construed in a light to uphold the verdicts, the evidence
shows the following: The victim lived in an apartment with
her daughters, appellant and Nikea Harvey, as well as
appellant's two children, four-year-old Zakiya and
two-year-old Brian. Appellant, Zakiya, and Brian shared one
of the three bedrooms in the apartment. Nikea, who is
developmentally disabled, had her own bedroom. The victim,
who paid the rent, used the master bedroom, which she kept
locked with a padlock.
year and a half before her death, the victim called police to
her home on two occasions when appellant let her boyfriend,
Latoris Grovner,  into the apartment against the
victim's wishes. Just days before her death, the victim
confided to a neighbor that she wanted to move because she
was afraid that appellant and Grovner would harm her, and she
was scared for her life. Then, after she argued with
appellant as to who would control the proceeds from
appellant's social security check,  the victim
confided to another neighbor that appellant said she would
kill her if she did not let appellant have the check so
appellant and Grovner could move in with each other.
night preceding the murder, appellant left the back door of
the apartment unlocked so Grovner could enter even though she
knew the victim would not have permitted her to do
The victim was lying on a sofa when Grovner attacked her with
a metal pot,  a vodka bottle, and his fists. Zakiya woke
up to the victim's screams and saw Grovner dragging the
victim out of the apartment and putting her in the trunk of
her car. Zakiya also observed that appellant, who was in bed,
opened one eye, but did not go to the victim's aid.
Appellant told Zakiya that she needed to leave the apartment.
next day, appellant's older sister, Shambra Pearsall,
became concerned about the victim because she had not been
able to reach her. Pearsall went to the victim's
apartment. Appellant let her in through the back door, but
she did not allow her to enter the living room. Appellant
told Pearsall she did not know their mother's
whereabouts, adding that she might have been with
"LeRoy, " their mother's friend.
police officers went to the victim's apartment and
knocked on the door. They continued knocking for forty
minutes, until appellant opened the door. In the meantime,
Grovner left the apartment undetected.
gave the victim's purse, which appeared to have blood
inside, to police, who searched the apartment, finding it in
disarray. There were bloodstains throughout the house,
including on the sofa and floor in the living room and the
bed in appellant's bedroom. Several of the victim's
teeth were on the floor of the living room, a bottle of
bleach was in the dining room, and bloody gloves were in a
trash can. Furthermore, the lock was pried off the
victim's bedroom door and her room was
police located the victim's automobile in a nearby
parking lot. They opened the trunk and discovered the
victim's body. The medical examiner determined that the
victim died of blunt force injuries to the head, but that she
may have been alive when she was placed in the trunk.
investigation into the use of the victim's debit card
demonstrated that within several hours of the victim's
murder, Grovner, accompanied by appellant, walked to a nearby
bank branch and a convenience store with automatic teller
machines. At each location, which was monitored by video,
they attempted, but failed, to withdraw money from the
victim's bank account.
trial, appellant told a cell mate "the murder was an
accident and it wasn't supposed to happen like
that." She also told a friend "it was a kidnaping
asserts that the evidence was insufficient for any rational
trier of fact to find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt of the crimes for which she was convicted. More
specifically, appellant argues (a) the State failed to prove
appellant was a party to the crimes and (b) the burglary
conviction cannot stand because appellant lived in the
victim's apartment and was authorized to permit Grovner
to enter it. We disagree.
person may be convicted of a crime he or she did not commit
directly upon proof that he or she was a party to the crime.
See OCGA § 16-2-20. "Although mere presence at the
scene of a crime is not sufficient to prove that one was a
party to the crime, presence, companionship, and conduct
before and after the offense are circumstances from which
one's participation in the criminal intent may be
inferred." Powell v. State, 291 Ga. 743,
744-745 (1) (733 S.E.2d 294) (2012) (citations and
punctuation omitted). Here the evidence showed that Grovner
and appellant shared a criminal intent to murder the victim
and access her bank account to enable them to live together
away from the victim's watchful eye. See Parks v.
State, 272 Ga. 353, 354-355 (529 S.E.2d 127) (2000)
(evidence sufficient to enable jury to infer that defendant
participated in a plan to commit the crimes). To carry out
their scheme, appellant allowed Grovner to enter the
apartment, although they both knew the victim would not
permit it; appellant did not so much as lift a finger while
Grovner beat her mother to death; she accompanied Grovner as
he tried to withdraw money from her mother's bank
account; she lied to her sister, feigning ignorance about
their mother's whereabouts; and she attempted to cover up
evidence of the crimes. It was for the jury, not this Court,
to assess the credibility and weight of this evidence and
determine whether appellant was a party to the crimes. See
Escutia v. State, 277 Ga. 400, 402 (2) (589 S.E.2d
66) (2003). The evidence was sufficient to enable a rational
jury to find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of
the crimes of malice murder, burglary, false imprisonment,
robbery, tampering with evidence, and financial transaction
card theft. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307,
319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). See
also Escutia, 277 Ga. at 402 (2).
Addressing appellant's conviction for burglary more
specifically, we note that the version of OCGA § 16-7-1
(a) applicable to this case provides that a person commits
burglary when he enters or remains in the dwelling house of
another without authority with intent to commit a felony or
theft therein. Here, as noted above, the victim made it
clear to both Grovner and appellant that Grovner did not have
permission to enter the victim's apartment. Compare
Bell v. State, 287 Ga. 670, 672-673 (1) (c) (697
S.E.2d 793) (2010) (defendant's entry to victim's
home was authorized). After all, the victim summoned police
to the apartment on more than one occasion simply because
Grovner had been there.Moreover, appellant did not contend she
had authority to admit Grovner to the apartment; she
acknowledged that Grovner was not permitted in the apartment,
but she helped him sneak in on several occasions by leaving
the back door unlocked. Appellant testified that the victim
paid the rent and all the bills; although appellant's
social security check was deposited to the victim's
account, the victim provided appellant with money whenever
asked. And, on the night in question, Grovner gained entry to
the apartment through that same back door with
appellant's help. Under these circumstances, neither
appellant nor Grovner could have reasonably believed that
appellant was authorized to allow him to enter the
victim's apartment for the purpose of killing the victim.
See Gonzales v. State, 931 S.W.2d 574 (Tex. Crim.
App.) (1996) (defendant boyfriend could not reasonably
believe his girlfriend was authorized to allow entry to her
parents' home so he could kill them); State v.
Upchurch, 421 S.E.2d 577 ( N.C. 1992) (defendant and
victim's stepson, who was a resident in the victim's
home, could not have reasonably believed stepson had
authority to permit defendant to enter the victim's home
to kill the victim). It follows that there was ample evidence
to enable the jury to conclude that Grovner entered the
victim's residence without authority. See Glisson v.
State, 165 Ga.App. 342 (3) (301 S.E.2d 62) (1983)
(whether entry was accomplished without authority is a
question for the jury).
Although appellant does not challenge specifically her
conviction for hindering the apprehension of a criminal, see
OCGA § 16-10-50, she cannot be convicted for both malice
murder and the hindering offense. See Hampton v.
State,289 Ga. 621, 622 (2) (713 S.E.2d 851) (2011). It
follows that appellant's conviction and sentence for
hindering the apprehension of a criminal must be vacated. See
Nazario v. ...