MELTON, Presiding Justice.
a jury trial, Edward Clements, Jr., was found guilty of
malice murder, felony murder, conspiracy to commit murder,
and various other offenses in connection with a
murder-for-hire plot that culminated in the shooting death of
his wife, Joni. On appeal, Clements contends, among other
things, that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient
to support the verdict and that his trial counsel was
ineffective. We affirm.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,
the record shows that, in October 2010, Clements told his
good friend, Robert Sybert, that he would pay Sybert between
$5, 000 and $10, 000 to kill Clements' wife, Joni. Prior
to this conversation with Sybert, Clements had expressed to
his co-workers at Robins Air Force Base that he was
"tired" of his wife and looking for someone to
"take care of her, " and he had even asked a
co-worker if he knew anyone who would kill for money. After
the October 2010 conversation with Sybert, Sybert got his
son, Richard, involved in the emerging plan to kill Joni, and
Clements offered to pay Richard $1, 000, give him a car, and
set up a date for him with a stripper if Richard would shoot
and kill Joni. The three men came up with a plan in which
Richard would enter Clements' house at a time when Joni
was home alone and shoot her with a sawed-off .22 caliber
rifle provided by Sybert. Clements gave Richard a key to his
house so that he could get inside to shoot Joni when the time
came to execute the plan.
week before the murder, Richard went to Clements' house
with the intention of killing Joni and unlocked the front
door of the house using the key that Clements had given to
him. However, Joni was not present at the house at that time.
Instead, Clements' daughter was there, so Richard quickly
ran from the home. Clements' daughter notified the police
about a man in a hoodie who had tried to open the door of the
home and then ran away.
February 8, 2011, Clements called Richard and told him that
his wife would be at home alone. Sybert took Richard to
Clements' house, and Richard again used the key given to
him by Clements to unlock the front door. Richard was armed
with his father's .22 caliber rifle. Richard had placed a
homemade silencer on the weapon that he made with PVC pipe,
black foam, and electrical tape. Richard called to Joni, who
was upstairs at the time, and told her that Clements had sent
him to the house to give her an extra key that Clements had
made for her. When Joni came downstairs to retrieve the key,
Richard used the rifle to force Joni to go upstairs again.
While Joni pled for her life, Richard forced her into a
bedroom, where he shot her five times, killing her.
was seen running from the house and across the street where
his father, Sybert, picked him up in his car. The two men
buried the murder weapon in an area behind their home, where
it was later recovered by police.
arrived at his home with his daughter shortly after police
arrived in response to a 911 call about the murder. When
police informed him that something terrible had happened to
his wife, Clements calmly responded, "I've been at
work[.] I have to clock in[.] I have to clock out, and
I've got co-workers to say I was there." In the days
following the murder, Sybert's nephew began to suspect
that Richard might have had something to do with Joni's
death, and, when he called Clements to tell him this,
Clements dismissed this possibility. Clements then told
Sybert's nephew not to tell the police. In addition to
Sybert's nephew, Sybert's other son, Jonathan, also
began to suspect that Richard was involved in Joni's
murder. When Jonathan called Clements to inform him of his
suspicions, Clements also told Jonathan not to tell anyone.
However, Jonathan went to the police.
questioned Richard and Sybert. During this questioning,
Sybert admitted that Clements had approached him about
killing Joni, and that his son had jumped at the opportunity
because Clements was offering to give him some money, a car,
and a "piece of ass." Then, on February 17, 2011,
the police obtained a warrant to wiretap Clements' and
Sybert's phones. The wiretapped calls involved several
communications between Clements and the Syberts. The police
also obtained telephone records that revealed several calls
between Clements, Sybert, and Richard immediately before and
after both the shooting of Joni and the incident at
Clements' house a week prior where Richard had unlocked
the front door to the home and then immediately ran away.
There was also a March 4, 2011 wiretapped call in which the
lead detective in the case, Detective Wright, spoke with
Clements and asked him about the murder.
week after the murder, Richard left Georgia and went to
Florida, where he was arrested on an unrelated felony. While
being interviewed by Florida police, Richard confessed to
murdering Joni and revealed Clements' and Sybert's
involvement with it. Thereafter, Clements, Richard, and
Sybert were charged with Joni's murder.
evidence was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to
find Clements guilty of all the crimes of which he was
convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560)
(1979). See also OCGA § 16-2-21 (parties to a crime).
Clements claims that the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress evidence of the March 4, 2011, wiretapped
phone conversation between Clements and Detective Wright
wherein the detective asked Clements about Joni's murder.
Clements contends that, because he had already invoked his
Sixth Amendment right to counsel by hiring an attorney before
the call took place, the police were not allowed to speak
with him without his counsel being present. See Moran v.
Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 428 (III) (106 S.Ct. 1135, 89
L.Ed.2d 410) (1986) ("[O]nce the [defendant's Sixth
Amendment] right [to counsel] has attached, it follows that
the police may not interfere with the efforts of a
defendant's attorney to act as a 'medium' between
the suspect and the State during the interrogation")
(citation, punctuation, and emphasis omitted).
argument is without merit, as the record reveals that his
Sixth Amendment right to counsel had not yet attached at the
time that his conversation with Detective Wright took place.
[t]he Sixth Amendment . . . addresses an accused's right
in all criminal prosecutions to have the assistance of
counsel for his defense and "attaches only at the
initiation of adversary criminal proceedings. . . . [B]efore
[judicial] proceedings are initiated a suspect in a criminal
investigation has no constitutional right to the assistance
of counsel." Davis v. United States, 512 U.S.
452 (114 S.Ct. 2350, 129 L.Ed.2d 362, 369-370) (1994). See
also Moran, [supra].
State v. Hatcher, 264 Ga. 556, 558 (448 S.E.2d 698)
(1994). In this regard, the United States Supreme Court has
emphasized that it would "make little sense to say
that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches at
different times depending on the fortuity of whether the
suspect or his family happens to have retained counsel ...