Mark Antonio Taylor appeals his convictions related to the
death of Charles Ernest Weaver. In the early morning hours of
December 28, 2012, appellant was wandering around Hall
County, trying to figure out a way to get back to
Atlanta. He entered the parking lot of a car
dealership where he came across a truck, which had its engine
running and its lights on. Seeing no one around, appellant
entered the vehicle and began driving it in reverse. The
victim, who worked at the dealership, attempted to stop
appellant from stealing the truck by pulling out a pocket
knife and dialing the police on his cell phone. Appellant got
out of the truck, pulled out a gun and forced the victim to
drop his knife and cell phone. Appellant then forced the
victim to walk towards the building and shot the victim once.
The victim attempted to run away and hide inside the
building, but appellant followed him and shot him a second
time. Appellant then fled in the truck, taking the
victim's cell phone and pocket knife with him. A
significant portion of appellant's encounter with the
victim was caught on the dealership's video surveillance
system. The victim was found deceased by a coworker. The
medical examiner testified the victim died from a bullet that
entered and exited his arm and then re-entered his body
through his chest, damaging his lungs and a major artery to
his heart such that he bled to death.
tracked the stolen vehicle to an apartment complex in
Atlanta, used the apartment's surveillance system to link
appellant to the truck, and found appellant in an apartment
with some of his relatives. Inside the apartment, police
recovered the victim's knife and appellant's Hi-Point
.45 caliber handgun, which was determined to be the murder
weapon. They also found the victim's cell phone in the
truck. As he was being arrested, appellant kept repeating
"Yeah, I did it" and "I killed him."
During his trial testimony, appellant admitted the victim was
unarmed both times he shot him.
evidence summarized above was sufficient to authorize a
rational trier of fact to find appellant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of the crimes for which the jury returned
verdicts of guilty. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
complains that trial counsel's questioning of prospective
jurors was too brief to be effective and contends counsel
should have moved to strike three jurors for cause. In order
to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel,
must show counsel's performance was deficient and that
the deficient performance prejudiced him to the point that a
reasonable probability exists that, but for counsel's
errors, the outcome of the trial would have been different. A
strong presumption exists that counsel's conduct falls
within the broad range of professional conduct.
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Pruitt v. State,
282 Ga. 30 (4) (644 S.E.2d 837) (2007). If a defendant fails
to meet his burden on one prong of the two-prong test, then
the other prong need not be reviewed by the Court. Wright
v. State, 291 Ga. 869 (2) (734 S.E.2d 876) (2012). The
content of trial counsel's voir dire of the jury venire
can be a matter of trial strategy and, if within the broad
range of reasonable professional assistance, will not sustain
a claim that counsel was constitutionally ineffective. See
Ford v. State, 298 Ga. 560 (8) (a) (783 S.E.2d 906)
(2016); Cade v. State, 289 Ga. 805 (4) (716 S.E.2d
196) (2011); Morgan v. State, 276 Ga. 72 (9) (575
S.E.2d 468) (2003). Likewise, the decision as to which jurors
to strike is a strategic decision that, if reasonable, will
not support an allegation that counsel's performance was
deficient. See Brown v. State, 2017 WL 3468408,
___Ga. ___(4) (___ S.E.2d ___) (August 14, 2017); Simpson
v. State, 298 Ga. 314 (4) (781 S.E.2d 762) (2016);
Lockhart v. State, 298 Ga. 384 (2) (782 S.E.2d 245)
motion for new trial hearing, trial counsel testified that
once the prosecutor completed her voir dire, there were not
many questions that needed to be asked of the prospective
jurors. He also testified that appellant assisted with jury
selection and any decisions made as to juror strikes were
strategic in nature. For example, in reference to Juror 41,
who was a domestic violence victim and stated she "did
not know" whether her experience would impact her
ability to be fair, trial counsel said he decided not to move
to strike her because he believed she might be sympathetic to
appellant. Our review of the transcript reveals that none of
the jurors who were seated on the jury expressed an opinion
during voir dire that was so fixed that they could not be
fair and impartial. Counsel's performance was not
deficient and, accordingly, appellant's claim of
ineffective assistance must fail.
Prior to trial, the State sought admission of evidence that
appellant's girlfriend expelled him from her car because
he punched her in the face. The trial court ruled that the
details of the fight were irrelevant and the parties agreed
that the only information that would be provided to the jury
was that, a day before the shooting, appellant was expelled
from his girlfriend's car because of a fight. At trial,
appellant took the stand and testified as follows on direct
Q. Did [you and your girlfriend] get into an argument that
A. Yes, we did.
Q. And were you riding with her?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. And what happened after [you] all got into an ...