BARNES, P. J., MCMILLIAN and MERCIER, JJ.
Roderick Crews was found guilty by a Pierce County jury on
October 21, 2008, of one count of armed robbery, two counts
of aggravated assault, one count of burglary and one count of
terroristic threats arising from a robbery. Crews filed a
motion for new trial on October 29, 2008. Crews's motion
for new trial was denied, and he appealed. Crews's appeal
of the denial of his motion for new trial was assigned Case
appeal, Crews filed his brief claiming two enumerations of
error: first, that the evidence was insufficient to support
the verdict; and second, that the defendant was prejudiced by
wearing leg shackles during trial. After the State filed its
brief, Crews filed a motion to remand to raise an ineffective
assistance of counsel claim. On August 19, 2009, this Court
remanded the matter to the trial court "to allow
appellant to file a motion for new trial raising the issue of
the alleged ineffectiveness of trial counsel[.]"
filed a motion for new trial on August 24, 2009, claiming
that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict
and that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel.
Crews filed an amended motion for new trial on August 14,
2014, claiming that he received ineffective assistance of
counsel and that he had been denied the right to a fair trial
because he was shackled at trial, without cause. The trial
court granted Crews's motion for new trial on September
27, 2016, stating that Crews received ineffective assistance
of trial counsel and his right to a presumption of innocence
was violated when jurors witnessed him shackled and escorted
into the courthouse by sheriff deputies. The State filed the
present appeal, Case No. A17A0672, pursuant to OCGA §
5-7-1 (a) (8), regarding the trial court's order granting
Crews's motion for new trial. In its two enumeration of
errors, the State contends that the trial court erred in
finding trial counsel ineffective and that the trial court
did not have jurisdiction to consider the issue of whether
Crews's right to a fair trial was violated due to his
legs being shackled during the trial. We agree and reverse.
in the light most favorable to the verdict, the record
reveals that Mr. and Ms. D. R. were home on January 21, 2007
when someone knocked on their door. Ms. D. R. believed that
their neighbor was knocking, and told the individual to come
inside. A white man entered their home wearing a gray ski
mask, which mask left only the man's eyes, mouth and
apparently bleached blond hair exposed.
stated "[Mr. D. R.], I've been hired to kill you,
and I've done been paid" and said that Mr. D. R.
owed money to someone in Brunswick. Mr. D. R. told the man
that he did not owe money to someone in Brunswick and gave
him approximately $30 to $80 cash that he had in his wallet
the man was in the home, Ms. D. R. stood up and walked toward
the man, who then pointed the gun at her and told her to sit
down before he shot her. Ms. D. R. stated that she recognized
the man, and the individual then seemed to act nervous and
tried to tuck his hair into his mask.
Ms. D. R.'s son J. R. then came into the living room. The
individual pointed his gun at J. R. and told him to go back
to his bedroom. However, J. R. grabbed his cell phone, ran
out of the back door of the home and called 911. The
individual then left the home.
trial S. G. testified that Crews told him that he had
committed an armed robbery in a home that was interrupted
when "some guy walked out in the hall[.]" S. G.
reported the conversation to the police in September 2007. S.
G. had a prior relationship with Mr. and Ms. D. R. S. G. had
previously worked for Mr. D.R. and Mr. and Ms. D. R.'s
daughter and son-in-law and, while working for them, had
"forged stuff, charged stuff on [Mr. D. R.'s]
account at Hoboken, " and stolen mobile home tires from
Mr. D. R.
detective who took S. G.'s statement testified at trial
that in September 2007, S. G. told him that Crews had told S.
G. that he had gone to a house on Mr. and Ms. D. R.'s
street, with a gun and robbed them. However, S. G. reported
to the detective that Crews said he was not able to get much
money because he left the house quickly after a boy entered
the room with a cell phone in his hand. The detective stated
that the fact that a boy interrupted the home invasion had
not been released to the media. Due to S. G.'s statement,
the detective arrested Crews, who had "long and
shaggy" hair four to six inches in length that, at the
time of the arrest, was "dyed bleach-blonde[sic]"
on the ends; this was approximately nine months after the
date of the home invasion.
close of the State's case, Crews moved for a directed
verdict. After hearing Crews's argument, the trial judge
stated "Well, I'll say this. It's about as thin
as I've ever seen. And it's probably deserving of the
motion being granted . . . I can't recall having seen a
case with much less evidence." Ultimately, the trial
court denied the motion stating "we're going to let
the jury decide whether or not they want to believe what [the
detective] tells them that [S. G.] told them, and we'll
go from there."
the directed verdict ruling, the parties discovered that
Crews was wearing leg shackles. Crews moved for a mistrial,
and the Court reserved the ruling until after the jury
returned its verdict. Following the jury's verdict, the
trial court polled the jurors individually regarding the leg
shackles. Two jurors stated that they had seen that Crews was
wearing leg shackles. The trial court denied the motion for
first grant of a new trial shall not be disturbed by an
appellate court unless the appellant shows that the judge
abused his discretion in granting it and that the law and
facts require the verdict notwithstanding the judgment of the
presiding judge." OCGA § 5-5-50. "However, the
first grant of a new trial on special grounds involving a
question of law is reviewable in a proper appeal. We review
such a question of law de novo and reverse if the trial court