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Carter v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

October 2, 2017

CARTER
v.
THE STATE.

          HUNSTEIN, JUSTICE.

         Appellant D'Andre Theophlouis Carter was convicted of malice murder and associated crimes in connection with the shooting death of Dequavious Reed.[1] On appeal, Carter contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions, that the trial court erroneously admitted a portion of a recorded conversation which captured the statements of a third party who did not testify at trial, and that the trial court erroneously admitted a recording of a jailhouse telephone call made by Carter. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

         Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented below established as follows. On July 11, 2013, Reed was discovered dead on the floor of his residence, with his pants pulled down and his shirt pulled up to his neck; he had been shot twice. Jayvias Lott, who had been arrested for armed robbery and other assorted crimes unrelated to the murder, had heard details concerning the crime and agreed to wear a secret recording device in order to obtain a statement from Carter. As agreed, Lott later recorded a conversation he had with Carter and a third party, Kavozeia Walker. In the recorded conversation, Carter recounts the events of Reed's murder, explaining that: he and his two brothers, Claron and C.J., went to Reed's residence under the pretense of purchasing drugs; after pretending to leave, the trio reversed course, and Claron shot the victim twice; Carter watched Reed die; the trio rifled through Reed's pockets, searched his residence, and stole marijuana and several hundred dollars; and, the murder weapon was thrown into a nearby pond.[2]

         At trial, Lott testified regarding his conversation with Carter, and the recorded conversation was played for the jury. Finally, the State presented evidence that a firearm, later identified as the murder weapon, was discovered in a local pond.

         1. The evidence as summarized above was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Carter was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). Though Carter argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his burglary conviction, there was evidence before the jury that Carter and his brothers entered the house under the pretense of purchasing drugs, going so far as to pretend to leave the residence before reversing course and committing the armed robbery that ended in Reed's death; accordingly, the evidence was sufficient for the jury to conclude that Carter and his brothers entered the residence without authority and with the intent to commit a theft therein. See State v. Newton, 294 Ga. 767, 772 (755 S.E.2d 786) (2014).

         2. Though Lott testified at trial, Walker did not, and Carter asserts that the trial court erred in admitting Walker's portion of the recorded conversation. Specifically, Carter argues that Walker's portion of the conversation was irrelevant under OCGA § 24-4-402, that it was inadmissible hearsay under OCGA § 24-8-801, and that the admission of Walker's portion of the conversation violated Carter's right to confrontation. We find no error.

         The recording in question reflects that Walker entered the conversation shortly after Carter and Lott began to speak, and some of the more meaningful exchanges between the three men include the following:

Walker: What are y'all taking about?
Carter: . . . Quay. Yeah.
Walker: What? Let me tell you about this s***. That m*****f***** there just have got everything in this b**** pockets, bro. In his pockets. They didn't even go through the house.
Carter: Cuz, you tripping, bro.
. . .
Walker: They ain't even go through the house.
Carter: That's what we did. But I knew what the f*** I was doing. Because if we would have stayed a little bit longer, we would have got caught.
Walker: True. True. True.
. . .
Lott: What y'all got?
Carter: S***. I got money and ...

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