MELTON, Presiding Justice.
a jury trial, Jordan Michael Coleman appeals his conviction
for the malice murder of Alvin Hall and related crimes,
contending, among other things, that there was insufficient
evidence of venue and that he received ineffective assistance
of trial counsel. For the reasons set forth below, we
the light most favorable to the verdict, the record shows
that, on the night of December 30, 2009, Newton County
firefighters responded to a 911 call from Maria Clark about a
car burning in a forested area behind her house. Hall's
body was found in the trunk of the car. An autopsy revealed
that Hall died of gunshot wounds before the fire had been
deliberately set. Hall's phone records showed that the
last call he received was from Candace Pope. Police
interviewed Pope, who led them to Coleman.
investigation revealed that, on the Wednesday night that he
was murdered, Hall had arranged a date with Pope. Pope knew
that Hall kept money in a pouch under the seat of his car,
and she enlisted Coleman and Brandon Hambrick to assist her
in stealing it. Pursuant to a plan they had previously
concocted, Pope was sitting in Hall's car with him when
Coleman and Hambrick walked up. Coleman pointed a gun at Hall
and made him get into the backseat. Coleman ordered Hall to
give up his money, but Hall responded that he did not have
any and that he would not "get any money on his [credit]
card" until the following Monday. Coleman then bound
Hall's hands with duct tape and forced him into the trunk
of his own car.
Hambrick, and Pope decided to hold Hall as their captive
until he received money on the following Monday. As they were
driving Hall to a place to hold him, the trunk of the car
popped open, and Hall tried to run away. Coleman caught up
with Hall, Hall struggled, and Coleman shot him twice.
Coleman then put Hall in the trunk of the car, drove to a
wooded cul de sac, and asked Pope to retrieve some gas. Pope
returned with a gas can, and Coleman took the gas from her.
He then went back to the wooded area where he had parked
Hall's car, returned with the gas can, and told the
others that things "had been taken care of." In
January 2010, Coleman told Keisha Williams that he killed
Hall after "things got crazy." Hambrick testified
at trial that Coleman shot Hall twice.
evidence was sufficient to enable the jury to find Coleman
guilty of the crimes for 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).
Coleman nonetheless contends that there was insufficient
evidence of venue in Newton County, where he was tried. We
evidence of venue presented at trial was conflicting. The
record shows that, after being arrested, Hambrick decided to
speak with investigators. On February 18, 2010, Hambrick
described the area where Hall was shot as the same area in
which the car was set on fire in Newton County. In a later
interview, Hambrick said that the victim was shot in
Scottdale, located in DeKalb County. At Coleman's trial,
however, Hambrick testified unequivocally that the shooting
occurred near the place where the car was burned in Newton
County. Williams testified that Coleman had previously told
her that he shot Hall at a house in DeKalb County. It was
undisputed that the body was found in Newton County.
murder cases, the manner in which venue is determined is set
forth in OCGA § 17-2-2 (c). This provision
sets forth a three-step process by which a jury in a criminal
homicide case may reach a factual finding about where the
crime was committed. First, according to the statutory rule,
the jury is to determine from the facts presented at trial
the county in which the cause of death was inflicted. Once
that factual issue is determined, the homicide "shall be
considered, " as a matter of law, "as having been
committed" in that county. If that is the county in
which the accused is being tried, then proper venue has been
established. If, however, the jury cannot determine where the
cause of death was inflicted, the statute gives further
instructions: it directs the jury to determine as a matter of
fact the county in which the death occurred. Once that
factual issue is determined, the homicide "shall be
considered, " as a matter of law, as having been
committed in that county. If the jury can determine neither
the county in which the cause of death was inflicted nor the
county in which the death occurred, then the jury is required
to determine the county in which the dead body was
discovered. Applying the venue statute, the homicide
"shall be considered, " as a matter of law, as
having been committed in the county in which the body was
discovered. Once the jury has determined from the facts
presented, and pursuant to these substantive statutory rules,
the location where the crime was committed, it can then
determine whether proper venue has been established by the
(Footnote omitted.) Shelton v. Lee, 299 Ga. 350,
354-355 (2) (b) (788 S.E.2d 369) (2016). In the light most
favorable to the verdict, Hambrick testified that he
witnessed the shooting occur in Newton County. This testimony
alone supports the jury's determination that venue in
Newton County was proper, as the jury, as arbiter of fact and
credibility, was authorized to reject contrary testimony.
Moreover, if the jury had been unable to determine the actual
county in which the cause of death was inflicted or death
occurred due to the conflicting testimony, it is undisputed
that Hall's body was found in Newton County. The evidence
of venue was sufficient.
3. In a
related enumeration of error, Coleman maintains that the
trial court erred by instructing the jury regarding the
option to find venue in the county where the body was found.
Because there was conflicting evidence as to venue for
Hall's murder, the trial court properly instructed the
jurors regarding the entirety of OCGA § 17-2-2 (c),
including the exception allowing venue to be placed in the
county in which the body was found if venue could not be
otherwise determined. The trial court's charge was
properly adjusted to the evidence presented at trial.
Coleman contends that his trial counsel rendered ineffective
assistance by (a) failing to offer evidence from a competency
evaluation indicating that Hambrick had a deal with the State
to testify for a reduced sentence and (b) failing to
adequately cross-examine witnesses concerning testimony given
by Hambrick that had not been disclosed in discovery. We
disagree with both contentions.
In order to succeed on his claim of ineffective assistance,
[Coleman] must prove both that his trial counsel's
performance was deficient and that there is a reasonable
probability that the trial result would have been different
if not for the deficient performance. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d
674) (1984). If an appellant fails to meet his or her burden
of proving either prong of the Strickland test, the
reviewing court does not have to examine the other prong.
Id. at 697 (IV); Fuller v. State, 277 Ga.
505 (3) (591 S.E.2d 782) (2004). In reviewing the trial
court's decision, "'[w]e accept the trial
court's factual findings and credibility ...