Orlando Smith was convicted of felony murder and related
offenses in connection with the May 2010 shooting death of
Demetra SmithOn appeal, Appellant claims that the
evidence was insufficient to support his convictions.
Appellant also contends that the trial court erred by:
failing to suppress illegally obtained evidence; denying his
motion for a mistrial; and allowing inadmissible hearsay
pursuant to the necessity exception. Finding no error, we
Viewed in a light most favorable to the jury's verdict,
the evidence adduced at trial established that, three months
prior to her death, Demetra Smith married Appellant. The two
had a volatile history that included verbal and physical
assaults. At trial, the State introduced evidence of numerous
incidents between the pair through many of the victim's
close friends, and also of the victim's intention to
leave Appellant the day before she was murdered.
24, 2010, at approximately 6:30 p.m., the Smiths were seen at
their shared apartment. At 1:40 a.m. on May 25, law
enforcement responded to a home security alarm at the
Smiths' residence. Appellant was not at the apartment as
he had, admittedly, left for his daughter's house by that
time. Upon their arrival, the police saw no signs of forced
entry into the Smiths' apartment; consequently, they did
not enter the residence.
and his daughter returned to the apartment later in the
morning on May 25. When they entered, they found Demetra
unresponsive with a single gunshot wound to the back of her
head. During their investigation, law enforcement found two
bloody wedding rings on the kitchen sink next to a wash rag
that was also covered in blood. Appellant told police that he
had been with his daughter since 5:00 p.m. on May 24. At
first, Appellant's daughter corroborated this story.
However, she eventually admitted that she had lied, telling
officers that Appellant arrived at her house around 2:00 a.m.
on May 25. Phone records introduced at trial confirmed that
Appellant was at or near his apartment between 5:00 p.m. on
May 24 and 1:30 a.m. on May 25.
his arrival at his daughter's home, Appellant took a
shower, changed his clothes, and was generally acting
nervous. Appellant requested that his daughter tell anyone
who asked that he had been with her since 5:00 p.m. the prior
evening. According to Appellant's daughter, her father
had her throw a bag of clothes out the car window on their
way back to the Smiths' residence. She led police to the
bag of clothing and identified the clothes inside as the same
that her father was wearing when he first arrived at her
house. Testing of this clothing revealed both the presence of
gun powder and of Demetra's DNA.
testing revealed that Demetra was shot at close range with
either a Beretta or a Taurus pistol. Though Demetra owned a
.40 caliber Taurus pistol, no weapon was located at the crime
scene, and her pistol was never recovered. At trial, the
State introduced photographs that were taken six months prior
to Demetra's death showing Appellant holding a pistol
that matched the description of his wife's gun. The
parties stipulated that Appellant was a convicted felon at
the time of his wife's murder.
conclude that this evidence was sufficient to enable a
rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt
that Appellant was guilty of the crimes for which he was
convicted. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99
S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
Next, Appellant argues that the trial court erred by
admitting the bloody wedding rings and the photographs of him
holding a gun because, he claims, they were seized pursuant
to a deficient search warrant in violation of his Fourth
order for Appellant to have preserved this issue for review,
he had to have obtained a ruling from the trial court on his
motion to suppress. See Higuera-Hernandez v. State,
289 Ga. 553, 555 (714 S.E.2d 236) (2011) (Citation omitted.)
("Standard practice in Georgia has long required a party
to make and obtain a ruling on an objection to evidence in
the trial court, before or as the evidence is admitted, in
order to preserve the objection for appeal, and standard
practice also allows parties to raise on appeal only the same
objections that were properly preserved below.").
Instead, the trial court reserved ruling on Appellant's
motion at the pre-trial hearing and did not enter an order at
a later date. Appellant did not object to the introduction of
the wedding rings at trial; although he did object to the
introduction of the photographs, he did not object to the
admission of the evidence based upon Fourth Amendment
grounds. Because Appellant did not obtain a ruling on his
pre-trial motion to suppress the evidence and did not object
to the admission of the evidence at trial, he has not
preserved this issue for appellate review. See McClendon
v. State, 299 Ga. 611 (4) (A) (791 S.E.2d 69) (2016).
Prior to trial, the court instructed the parties and
witnesses not to reference Appellant's alleged drug
dealing. During the State's case-in-chief, the following
exchange occurred while lay witness Ali Hassan was on direct
Q: What did [the victim] say - why was she not happy?
A: I don't know what - they have some kind of dispute on
the relationship and the work . . . and I heard about him
doing, [Appellant] doing the drugs, selling the drugs.
objected and moved for a mistrial, arguing that the State
improperly introduced evidence of his bad character without
the defense first opening the door to allow such evidence.
The trial ...