Curtis Todd Kuhn was tried and convicted of murder and
related offenses in connection with the shooting death of his
step-father, Robert Donald "Don" May
On appeal, Appellant claims that the evidence was
insufficient to support his convictions and that he was
entitled to have his original trial judge preside over his
motion for new trial proceedings. Finding no error, we
Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,
the evidence adduced at trial established that, on September
30, 2013, Appellant was living in Polk County, Georgia, with
his mother, Bonnie May, his step-father, Robert Donald May II
("Don"), his brother, Rusty Kuhn, his brother's
girlfriend, Danielle Garcia, and their minor child.
evening, after the group had been drinking, Bonnie and
Danielle stood in the driveway of the family home and began
to argue. Don, Rusty and Appellant all went outside to check
on the women; Rusty eventually involved himself in the
argument. Bonnie became upset at the family's
interference and, after some additional back and forth, she
eventually went inside the house to get ready for bed;
everyone else, including Danielle's minor child, remained
outside. Shortly thereafter, shots were fired between Don and
Appellant. After hearing the shots, Rusty tackled Don to the
ground and Don fell face first onto the driveway; Rusty
quickly stood back up, and thereafter saw Appellant shoot Don
in the back.
officers arrived at the scene, they located ten spent shell
casings - five were shot from Appellant's .40 caliber
Glock and five from Don's 9 mm H & K. The .40 caliber
casings were located in a grassy area next to the driveway,
and the 9 mm casings were strewn throughout the driveway. The
guns were later found inside a trashcan. Don was lying
between the two areas where the casings were located; he had
suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Appellant had sustained a
gunshot wound to his upper right arm.
transported to the hospital where he later died. During the
autopsy, the medical examiner located five gunshot wounds on
Don's body, four of which were entrance wounds located on
his back; the fifth was an entrance wound to his palm. Don
also had scrapes and bruises on his face and arm, consistent
with being knocked to the ground face first. The medical
examiner concluded that the gunshot wounds to Don's back
caused his death.
trial, the State called GBI Special Agent Murphy during its
case-in-chief and qualified him as a crime scene expert.
Based upon his processing of the crime scene, the autopsy
report, and the witness statements provided to law
enforcement, Agent Murphy concluded that Don was backing away
from Appellant during the exchange of gunfire and, after
Rusty tackled Don to the ground, Appellant approached Don and
shot him in the back four times.
State also introduced Appellant's interviews with law
enforcement. Appellant told police that he acted in
self-defense in shooting his step-father and, although there
were inconsistencies within these statements as to how the
events unfolded, he maintained he had acted in self-defense.
presented witnesses and testified in his own defense at
trial, once again claiming that he had defended himself the
night of the shooting. Defense counsel also called a crime
scene expert to rebut the testimony of Special Agent Murphy.
Namely, the defense's expert opined that Appellant fired
the shots while lying in the grassy area next to the
driveway, and that Don's gunshot wounds to the back
occurred while he was falling to the ground after being
tackled by Rusty.
argues that the evidence relied upon by the State was
insufficient to support his convictions and sentences. When
evaluating the sufficiency of evidence, the proper standard
for review is whether a rational trier of fact could have
found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. See
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61
L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). "'This Court does not reweigh
evidence or resolve conflicts in testimony; instead, evidence
is reviewed in a light most favorable to the verdict, with
deference to the jury's assessment of the weight and
credibility of the evidence.'" (Citation omitted.)
Hayes v. State, 292 Ga. 506, 506 (739 S.E.2d 313)
issues raised by Appellant - i.e., witness credibility and
inconsistent testimony - go to the weight of the evidence
against him, which is a question for the jury to decide, not
this Court. See Thomas v. State, 300 Ga. 433 (1)
(796 S.E.2d 242) (2017); Shaw v. State, 292 Ga. 871,
872 (742 S.E.2d 707) (2013) ("Likewise, the issues of
witness credibility and justification are for the jury to
decide, and the jury is free to reject a defendant's
claim that he acted in self-defense."). Based on the
foregoing, the evidence authorized the jury to find Appellant
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he
Appellant further alleges that the motion for new trial judge
erred by denying his request to have the trial judge preside
over his motion for new trial hearing. We disagree. As an
initial matter, the judge who presided over the motion for
new trial hearing was originally assigned to Appellant's
criminal case and presided over his pre-trial immunity
hearing, which involved evidence and testimony similar to
that presented at trial. Appellant's reliance on OCGA
§ 5-5-43 is also unavailing. The statute clearly
authorizes a judge who did not try a case to preside over and
decide a motion for new trial. See State v. Harris,
292 Ga. 92, 95 (734 S.E.2d 357) (2012); Weathersby v.
State, 263 Ga.App. 341 (3) (587 S.E.2d 836) (2003).
Accordingly, there is no error.
affirmed. All ...