Travis Santell Rabon was tried and convicted of numerous
offenses in connection with the murder of Keira Avant and the
rape of a second victim. Rabon appeals, claiming three instances
of trial court error. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the
evidence adduced at trial established as follows. In the
early morning hours of December 29, 2008, police officers
responded to a disturbance call at Lake Saint James Apartment
Complex in Rockdale County, Georgia. Upon their arrival,
witnesses directed the officers to Rabon's apartment.
After several knocks, Rabon opened the door holding a mop.
The officers immediately noticed blood on the wall, which
Rabon attributed to being bitten by his dog. Just then, an
extremely upset young woman appeared from the bathroom
yelling for help. Her head was wrapped in a blood soaked
cloth and she was clothed only in a damp, bloodied bra and
inside the apartment, law enforcement saw blood on the walls
and floor, as well as blood droplets leading to the back of
the apartment where they located an unconscious Keira Avant
on the floor of the bedroom with a cord around her neck. Her
clothing had been pulled above her waist and her underwear
had been removed. Law enforcement recovered numerous items
from the residence including a handgun and a barbell. DNA
testing later revealed the presence of the surviving
victim's blood on both items.
immediately treated the surviving victim for swelling and
numerous contusions and lacerations to her head and throat.
She told the paramedics that she had been pistol whipped in
the head, strangled and raped. She was later life-flighted to
Grady Hospital in Atlanta where a sexual assault examination
revealed redness on her vaginal wall, which was consistent
with a sexual assault. Swabbings were also taken from the
surviving victim's vagina and anus; Rabon's DNA was
found on the latter.
Avant was taken to Rockdale County Hospital where she was
determined to be brain dead. After Avant's treating
physician concluded that she would not recover from her
injuries, her family removed her from life support, and Avant
subsequently died on December 31, 2008. An autopsy confirmed
that Avant's cause of death was a lack of blood and
oxygen to the brain due to strangulation.
their investigation, law enforcement learned that, on the
morning of December 29, 2008, Avant received a phone call
from Rabon offering to lend her money so that she could
obtain her bartender's license. After Avant accepted the
loan offer, Rabon requested she travel to his apartment to
pick up the money. Later in the day, Avant went inside
Rabon's apartment alone while her three friends waited in
the parking lot. After an extended period of time, the women
became concerned, so one of them went to check on Avant.
After she knocked on the door, Rabon yanked the woman inside,
held a gun to her head, told her she was going to watch him
have sex with Avant, and demanded she remove her clothing.
The woman pleaded with Rabon not to kill her and pretended to
take off her clothes, then ran to the door. Rabon pulled her
back and the pair began to struggle, during which Rabon hit
her in the head multiple times with a gun, bit her, and
choked her to the point of unconsciousness.
then dragged the victim to the bathroom, forced her to have
sex with him and ordered her to perform oral sex on him,
which she did out of fear for her life. After the rape, Rabon
dragged the second victim into the master bedroom, where an
unresponsive Avant was on the floor with a cord tied around
her neck. Her top was pulled up and her pants and boots
pulled down. As the second victim screamed and begged for her
life, Rabon made her lay on top of Avant so he could have
vaginal sex with her and anal sex with Avant interchangeably.
Shortly thereafter, deputies began knocking on Rabon's
spoke with police and gave five different versions of what
had occurred, eventually implicating himself in the crimes.
The State also presented similar transaction evidence at
trial from Rabon's former girlfriend, wherein she
testified that Rabon had hit and choked her and raped her in
the past, an allegation he admitted in a handwritten letter,
which was also introduced into evidence at trial.
testified on his own behalf; he denied choking Avant,
explained that he engaged in consensual sex with both women,
and claimed he acted in self-defense after the women attacked
Though not raised by Rabon, we find that there was sufficient
evidence to enable a rational trier of fact to conclude
beyond a reasonable doubt that Rabon was guilty 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).
record shows that Rabon filed motions requesting funds for
investigators and experts, attaching an affidavit of
indigence as an exhibit to each motion. He also filed two
motions for a continuance based upon a lack of funds to
proceed with his defense. The trial court denied both of
Rabon's motions for funds after holding
hearings on the same and, in an order denying his
second motion for continuance, the trial court summarized its
findings regarding Rabon's indigent status as follows:
While the Defendant contends that he was delayed in obtaining
expert witnesses due to the limited financial resources of
the Defendant, counsel for the Defendant has been aware since
January 8, 2010, when this Court first denied the Defendant
funds for Investigative Services, that the Court did not find
the Defendant indigent based on the substantial lump sum
amount of attorney fees the Defendant had previously paid
defense counsel. Defense counsel has now decided, almost
three years after being hired, to apply a portion of the
monies paid by the Defendant to obtaining expert witnesses.
This could have been done previously. Instead, defense
counsel filed additional motions requesting that the
Defendant be declared indigent, and when each of these
motions were denied, (sic) and waiting until the eve of trial
to take action.
raises three enumerations of error concerning the trial
court's denial of his request for indigent status and
public funds to hire experts and investigators in ...