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Wilson v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

August 14, 2017

WILSON
v.
THE STATE.

          MELTON, Presiding Justice.

         Following a jury trial, Dontavious Wilson appeals his convictions for the murder of Jack Camp, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, and related crimes, contending that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict and the trial court erred by failing to properly instruct the jury.[1] For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows that Camp was fatally shot while working as a security guard at the Regency Club Apartments in Albany, Georgia around 1:00 a.m. on March 14, 2007. Moments before the shooting, Camp phoned 911 to ask for assistance. The 911 operator overheard a male voice in the background say, "oh hell, he's calling the police." Shortly thereafter, law enforcement arrived, and a resident who had been walking through the complex at the time that Camp was shot implicated Wilson, Darrell Anderson, who is Wilson's cousin, Christopher Ingram, Luke Sears, and Kentrell Barney. Another resident stated that she witnessed Wilson and Camp arguing just before the shooting occurred. Investigators interviewed all of the men who had been identified as being on the scene, but they initially denied any knowledge about Camp's murder. After being arrested for giving a false statement, however, Sears decided to tell law enforcement what he knew about the shooting.

         Sears, who testified at trial, stated that he went to drink and smoke marijuana with Anderson, Wilson, Ingram, and Barney at the home of Wilson's girlfriend, Pauline Davis, at around 7:00 p.m. on March 13, 2007. There, Sears witnessed Ingram pull out a revolver, and the other men "horsed around" with it. Eventually, the five men went to the Regency Club Apartments in two cars because Wilson, Anderson, and Ingram wanted to sell crack. Sears rode with Barney and Wilson, while Ingram rode with Anderson. Sears fell asleep in Wilson's car while the other men walked into the apartment complex. Sears was awakened by gunshots, and, moments later, Wilson returned to the car with a revolver that looked like the one that belonged to Ingram. Sears jumped out of Wilson's car, saw Camp's body, and began running. A short time later, however, he got back into Wilson's car, and Wilson instructed him, "[y]ou ain't seen nothing, " and "[y]ou don't know nothing." Wilson then drove back to Davis's home, and Wilson gave what Sears thought to be the revolver wrapped in a towel to Ingram. Anderson then said, "I told the n****** the man was going to call the police, and we just went to [shooting]."[2]

         Two jailhouse informants also provided testimony concerning Camp's murder. One informant, who spoke with Anderson in jail, said that Anderson told him that Wilson had gotten into a "confrontation" with Camp at the Regency Club Apartments. Another informant, who spoke with both Anderson and Wilson, testified that Anderson told him that he and Wilson were going to "beat" the charges "because they ain't got nothing on us" and that Sears "is the only one telling." According to the informant, when Anderson said this, Wilson "hit his leg, like to shut up, " and the conversation ended. The same informant later spoke only to Wilson, who explained that Sears was "telling everything" and that he was "going to try to get some of [his] people to go talk to [Sears] and see if he will change his statement." Wilson then admitted that he, Anderson, and Sears had been "drinking, popping pills, and smoking weed" when they decided to make a drug sale at the apartments by Dougherty High School. But "when they got there, something went wrong with the drug sale" and Wilson admitted that he shot Camp.

         Anthony Johnson, who is Davis's brother, testified that Davis called him at a point after Camp's murder. Johnson was in jail at the time, but Wilson was not. In the middle of the conversation, Davis had to deal with a visitor, and she handed the phone to Wilson. Johnson and Wilson chatted, and Johnson asked Wilson about Camp's murder. During this conversation, Wilson stated to Johnson, "I shot him." In addition, Tabitha Woodall testified that Ingram called her in the early morning hours following the shooting and told her that Camp had been killed. In a later conversation, Ingram told Woodall that Wilson was the person who shot Camp.

         At the time that Wilson was questioned in his home regarding Camp's murder, he admitted to police that he had cash and marijuana in his pockets. He was carrying $700 in cash, and he possessed 1.7 grams of a substance later proven to be marijuana. A subsequent probationary search of Wilson's home turned up additional marijuana. Testimony further indicated that the marijuana possessed by Wilson was in individual-sized baggies.

         This evidence was sufficient to authorize the jury to find Wilson guilty of 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).

         2. (a) Nonetheless, Wilson contends that hearsay statements of his co-conspirators were improperly admitted against him. Specifically, Wilson contends that the State failed to make a prima facie showing of conspiracy. We disagree with this contention.

         Former OCGA § 24-3-5, applicable to this case, [3] states: "After the fact of conspiracy is proved, the declarations by any one of the conspirators during the pendency of the criminal project shall be admissible against all." To trigger this exception to the hearsay rule

the State must make a prima facie showing of the existence of the conspiracy, without regard to the declarations of the co-conspirator, in order to admit his out-of-court declarations. The trial judge may admit testimony by co-conspirators before the conspiracy has been proved, provided its existence is ultimately shown at trial. Conduct which discloses a common design, even without proof of an express agreement between the parties, may establish a conspiracy.

(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Livingston v. State, 271 Ga. 714, 719 (3) (524 S.E.2d 222) (1999).

         A prima facie showing of conspiracy was made in this case. Sears, who was present at trial, testified extensively regarding the night of the murder, covering the activities of the group, including Anderson specifically, both before and after the murder itself. In addition, Wilson, himself, made admissions that he had gone to Regency Club Apartments to sell drugs, that Camp interfered, and that he shot Camp as a result. Further evidence indicates that Wilson used Ingram's gun to shoot Camp and that the defendants arrived at the scene together, left the scene together, and actively began concealing the crime together afterwards. The statements of co-conspirators were properly admitted. There was no error.

         (b) Wilson also maintains that he should not have been convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute because the arresting officer did not testify that the amount of marijuana possessed by Wilson was inconsistent with personal use. The existence of the intent to distribute marijuana, as opposed to the intent to merely possess it, "is peculiarly a question of fact for jury determination." Hughes v. State, 297 Ga.App. 217, 218 (676 S.E.2d 852) (2009). The evidence showed that Wilson possessed a large amount of cash and at least 1.7 grams of marijuana. In addition, the marijuana was contained in small packets, and the testifying police officer opined that this evidence was consistent with distribution, ...


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