Antonio Shaw was convicted of the malice murder of Shomari
Grier, criminal attempt to commit the murder of Ashley
McCord, aggravated assault of Lashaun Brown, and three counts
of possession of a firearm during the commission of a
felony. Appellant contends that the trial court
erred in excluding evidence of a witness's alleged gang
affiliation and in not instructing the jury on voluntary
manslaughter as a lesser included offense of murder. We
Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the
evidence at trial showed the following. Ashley McCord was in
an off-and-on relationship with Shelicia Reese, and on the
night of December 9-10, 2011, McCord spent the night at
Reese's apartment in Atlanta. In the morning, McCord
returned home to her girlfriend, Denee Simpson. Simpson
caught McCord trying to sneak into the house and told her to
go back to where she had spent the night. McCord began
driving back to Reese's apartment, calling Reese on the
way. The two women started arguing about their relationship,
and Reese surreptitiously added Simpson to the call, allowing
her to listen in. As McCord drove, she picked up her friend
Shomari Grier, who wanted a ride to the mall.
McCord and Grier arrived at Reese's apartment, Reese
refused to open the door. Reese told McCord that she was on
the phone with Reese's mother, so McCord better not hurt
her. When McCord promised that she was not there to fight,
Reese opened the door and went upstairs to her bedroom.
McCord followed Reese while Grier remained downstairs.
Upstairs, Reese dropped her phone and McCord realized that
Reese's call was with Simpson, not Reese's mother.
Reese and McCord began to argue and scuffle on the bed.
then grabbed her phone and called Lashaun Brown, a friend and
coworker who had planned to go to the library with Reese that
day. Reese asked Brown to come over now and help get McCord,
who weighed about 230 pounds, off of her. Appellant, who also
worked with Brown and Reese, then drove Brown and her baby to
Reese's apartment. Appellant had a handgun in his car.
Appellant and Brown arrived at Reese's apartment, Brown
called three times for Reese to let them in the door. During
the final call, Brown told Reese that Appellant was with her,
and Reese asked for Appellant to help get McCord out of the
apartment. Reese then ran downstairs to let in Brown and
Appellant. McCord walked downstairs and prepared to leave
with Grier. When McCord and Grier approached Reese, Brown,
and Appellant, who was standing by the front door, Brown
asked McCord why she was beating up Reese. McCord started to
leave, but Brown persisted in asking McCord why she was
hurting Brown's friend. McCord replied that she did not
want to fight, especially while Brown was holding her baby.
Grier then whispered to McCord that Appellant had a gun
tucked into his waistband, and McCord saw it sticking out. No
one else had a gun.
McCord and Grier moved to leave the apartment, Brown handed
her baby to Reese and then punched McCord in the side of her
head. McCord and Brown scuffled out the door onto the front
porch. No more punches were thrown, and McCord did not hurt
Brown; McCord just put her weight on Brown. Reese stayed
inside the doorway with Brown's baby but poked her head
out to watch what was happening. Appellant and Grier stood on
the front steps also watching the fight. Appellant moved to
intervene, and McCord heard him say, "I'm fixing to
blow that b***h's brains out." Grier told Appellant
not to get involved because it was only girls fighting and it
then saw Appellant pull out a gun and shoot Grier. Reese
jumped back and shut the door, but watched through a window
as Grier grabbed his arm and ran down the street. Appellant
continued to fire shots at Grier until Grier collapsed in the
street a short distance away. Appellant then turned toward
the tussling women and shot at McCord. McCord begged
Appellant not to kill her, but after pausing to listen to her
plea, he continued to shoot, hitting her a total of four
times. Brown jumped up, then realized that she had been hit
twice by bullets that passed through McCord. She shouted at
Appellant, "Bro, you shot me!"
died on the street. Forensic evidence showed that he had been
shot four times from a distance of at least three feet. The
fatal shot passed through his heart and lung; the other three
shots struck his arms. Appellant helped Brown to his car and
drove her to Grady Memorial Hospital. McCord lay on the
ground until Brown left, calling for Grier, then crawled to
her vehicle and drove to another hospital. A neighbor called
the police after hearing the gunshots.
Appellant's phone, Brown called Reese from the hospital
and asked Reese to bring her baby to Grady. Reese then called
Eric Evans, her boyfriend and Appellant's brother-in-law,
and said, "[Appellant] just shot these people over
here." Evans picked up Reese and drove her and
Brown's baby to Grady. At the hospital, Brown told Evans
that she had been shot in a drive-by shooting. As Reese and
Evans were leaving, Appellant, who had been briefly detained
by police at the hospital but then released, told Reese that
he would follow them to the house of Reese's sister,
Sequanna Holmes, where Evans was dropping off Reese.
they arrived, Holmes met them and asked what had happened.
Appellant, who appeared "shaken up" and
"nervous, " said that he had "unloaded"
on Grier and McCord, shooting about 19 times. Appellant said
that he had been shot at before and felt that it was
"him or the man, " so he was not going to take any
chances when he saw Grier's hand reaching for something
under Grier's shirt. Appellant showed them a 9mm gun
hidden in the back seat of his car underneath the baby seat.
He explained that he had distracted the police when they
searched his car at the hospital by opening his trunk, so
they never searched around the baby seat. Appellant also told
Holmes, Evans, and Reese that he washed his hands inside the
hospital so they would not contain gunshot residue, although
the police then did not test his hands. Later, Appellant told
Brown that his uncle helped him to dispose of the gun.
McCord picked out Appellant in a photographic lineup shown to
her in the hospital, and she identified him as the shooter
then and at trial. At Reese's apartment, investigators
recovered two metal bullet jackets, several metal jacket
fragments, and nine 9mm shell casings, all near the porch and
walkway, with one casing just inside the apartment door. A
9mm bullet was removed from Grier's body. Ballistics
analysis revealed that the bullet, metal jackets, and two of
the metal jacket fragments all were fired from the same gun.
The shell casings were also all fired from the same gun,
although there was no way to determine whether the gun that
fired the casings was the same gun that fired the bullet,
metal jackets, and fragments.
trial, Appellant testified as follows. He drove Brown and her
baby to Reese's apartment, where he got out of the car
and handed the baby to Reese at the front door while Brown
got her baby bags out of the back seat. He then drove away
while Brown was on the front steps with her bags and Reese
was inside with the baby. A few minutes later, Appellant
called Brown to ask when she wanted to be picked up, but
Reese answered the phone saying that Brown had been shot.
Appellant returned to the apartment and saw Brown sitting on
the front steps, so he helped her into his car and drove to
Grady. After allowing the police to search his car at the
hospital, he drove home. Appellant claimed that he saw no one
other than Reese and Brown at Reese's apartment.
Reese and Brown first spoke to the police, their stories
tracked Appellant's account, including never mentioning
McCord or Grier. Reese initially said that a black car with
tinted windows drove by her apartment and shot at Brown out
of a cracked window. Reese was indicted with Appellant, but
she negotiated a plea agreement under which she agreed to
plead guilty to one count of aggravated assault and one count
of making a false statement and to testify truthfully at
Appellant's trial in exchange for the dismissal of the
other charges. Reese testified that Appellant was the