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Anthony v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

November 2, 2017


          GRANT, Justice.

         Appellant Jelani Asim Anthony was convicted of malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.[1] On appeal, Anthony contends that the trial court erred by (1) refusing to suppress an identification obtained as the result of an allegedly flawed lineup and (2) failing to grant his motion for new trial after new evidence relating to an alternate suspect was revealed. Anthony further contends that his trial counsel and post-trial counsel were ineffective in a number of ways. Finding no error, we affirm.


         In the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented at trial shows the following. Late one night, Eric Scales drove a burgundy Toyota Highlander into the Wyndcliff Apartment complex with appellant Jelani Anthony in the passenger seat. Anthony got out of the SUV, walked over toward the curb and shot Warren Broadnax eight times with a .40 caliber Sig Sauer semi-automatic pistol. Anthony then got back into Scales's car and the two drove away. Broadnax died from the gunshot wounds.

         Roommates Redd Coker and Brandon Love were living in an apartment at Wyndcliff with a sliding door that faced a parking lot. On the night Broadnax was murdered, Coker had just returned from work when he saw headlights flash across his sliding door. Thinking that the headlights might belong to his girlfriend's car, Coker looked out the sliding glass door of his balcony and watched as a man got out of a dark colored SUV. Coker and Love then heard ten to fifteen gunshots. From the same sliding glass door, Coker watched as a person walked back to the SUV while putting a gun in his waistband. When the SUV door opened, the interior lights came on and illuminated the person's face. As a result, Coker got a good look at the shooter before the SUV drove away. Coker would later identify the shooter as Anthony.

         After the SUV left, Coker and Love went outside and found Broadnax. Coker called 911, but left the scene before officers arrived because he had an outstanding arrest warrant for violating his probation. Police arrived and found Broadnax, who was bleeding heavily from multiple gunshot wounds. Detective Ron Waddell recovered the victim's phone and called the numbers listed in the recent call log. Detective Waddell spoke to people associated with every number except for one- a number listed simply as V-A. In an attempt to identify the person listed as V-A, Detective Waddell spoke to a woman who was a resident at Wyndcliff and who had previously allowed Broadnax to find shelter in her apartment when he was in the complex parking lot without another place to go. The resident reported that a young man driving a burgundy Toyota Highlander attempted to pick her up in the parking lot on the night of Broadnax's murder. The young man gave her a phone number, which she kept. That phone number matched the number listed as V-A in Broadnax's phone. After speaking to another resident, Detective Waddell determined that the man who spoke to the resident was Eric Scales. In the meantime, Atlanta police located a burgundy Toyota Highlander that had been reported stolen. Inside the SUV, they found personal property belonging to Broadnax and a security guard uniform with the name E. Scales.

         Detective Waddell obtained a court order for the subscriber information, call details, and cell tower information for Scales's cell phone number. Detective Waddell learned that Scales had made multiple calls to Broadnax; the two men appeared to speak almost daily. More importantly, cell tower information showed that Scales's cell phone was near the murder scene the night Broadnax died. Scales had not called Broadnax since the murder.

         Through a series of leads, Detective Waddell obtained a second court order for information relating to another phone number, which turned out to be Anthony's. The cell phone records showed that Scales's phone had stopped near Anthony's residence the night of the murder. Then both Scales's cell phone and Anthony's cell phone travelled to the Wyndcliff apartments at about the time Broadnax was killed. Anthony's cell phone was turned off while he was at the apartment complex, but it was turned back on a few days later.

         Coker agreed to come to the police station and try to identify the man he saw in the parking lot on the night Broadnax was murdered. Detective Waddell assured Coker that if he came to the station he would not be arrested on his outstanding probation warrant at that time. Coker agreed, and a detective who was not involved in the investigation, Detective Turner, conducted the photo lineup with Coker. Detective Turner and Coker went through two sequential lineups.[2] The first sequential lineup included a photograph of Scales. Coker did not make any identification when shown that lineup. Coker was then shown a second sequential lineup that contained a picture of Anthony. Coker identified Anthony as the man from the parking lot.

         Police then arrested Anthony, who provided a statement after he was advised of his Miranda rights. In his statement, Anthony admitted that he owned a Sig Sauer .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol. He admitted that he was friends with Scales, and that he knew Broadnax. Anthony confessed to being with Scales the night Broadnax was murdered, but insisted that he had gone to a different apartment complex than the one where the murder took place. When confronted with the evidence that his cell phone was at Wyndcliff, Anthony hedged that he knew Scales was driving the burgundy Toyota Highlander, but still denied being in the car at the time of the crime. When informed that a witness had identified him as being in the Wyndcliff parking lot at the time of the crime, Anthony said "maybe" he had been there, but maintained that he was nothing more than a passenger in Scales's SUV.

         Scales, for his part, testified that he shot Broadnax in self-defense. In Scales's version of events, Broadnax and another man, identified only as Little C, were in his SUV at the Wyndcliff Apartments. Broadnax found a gun inside the SUV and pointed it at Scales. Scales then wrestled the gun away from Broadnax and shot him with it.

         At trial, a jury found Anthony guilty of malice murder among other crimes, and Anthony filed a motion for new trial, which he later amended. The trial court denied his motion. We note that three different attorneys have represented Anthony. First, trial counsel-who conducted the trial and filed the first motion for new trial. Next, post-trial counsel-who amended the motion for new trial, conducted the motion for new trial hearing, and then filed the first notice of appeal. Finally, appellate counsel-who filed an amended notice of appeal and the briefs before this Court and currently represents Anthony.

         Although Anthony does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, we find that the evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to find Anthony guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).


         Anthony's first contention is that the trial court erred by refusing to suppress evidence of Coker's identification of Anthony as the shooter because the photographic lineup was flawed.[3] We disagree.

         At trial, Detective Turner testified that he conducted two sequential lineups with Coker. Anthony objected and asked to approach the bench. During a bench conference conducted outside the presence of the jury, Anthony contended that in discovery the State had provided him with a single six-pack style lineup and not with any individual pictures from sequential lineups. When the State tendered the sequential lineups into evidence, Anthony again objected that the State did not provide those lineups to him during discovery. After ...

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