Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Harris v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

January 29, 2018



         Blake Ramone Harris appeals his convictions for malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Ray Murphy.[1] Harris argues that the trial court improperly commented on a witness's credibility and that the trial court erred by not allowing him to ask a GBI investigator whether he used a waiver of rights form before interviewing Harris. We conclude that the trial court's isolated statement, which Harris did not object to, had no effect on the outcome of the trial. We also conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting Harris's cross-examination because his intended questions were not relevant to any issues at trial. Therefore, we affirm Harris's convictions.

         Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the trial evidence shows that Harris, Kevin Boyd (Harris's cousin), and Adrian Ansley (Boyd's girlfriend) were members of the same gang. Boyd and Ansley, along with other gang members, regularly gathered at a house on Ewing Street in Atlanta during the summer of 2013. Boyd obtained a gun from someone at the house and had it with him on the night of August 10, 2013.

         That night, Harris, Boyd, Ansley, BJ Crutchfield, and his son, BJ Jr., were at a house known as the "Studio" in Monroe, Georgia. At about 9:00 p.m., Ansley drove Harris and Boyd to pick up some meth that they planned to sell. Boyd had previously placed the gun under the passenger seat of Ansley's car, and the gun was in the car during the trip. After picking up the meth, Boyd called Jurshia Jones and told her he would be coming by her house, which was located next door to the Studio. At 9:15 p.m., Ansley dropped Harris and Boyd off at the Studio and left. At some point, Harris and Boyd went next door to Jones's house.

         Meanwhile, Ray Murphy arranged to buy an ounce of meth from someone named "BJ." Murphy asked his friend, Eric Mann, for a loan to buy the meth. Mann's wife drove Murphy and Mann to Jones's house, and she waited in the car while Murphy and Mann went inside the house.

         Once inside, Murphy and Mann sat in the living room with Boyd and talked about the video game Boyd had been playing. When Harris walked into the room, he pulled out a gun, cocked it, and pointed it at Murphy and Mann. Mann said he did not have any money. Boyd and Murphy began arguing, and Boyd reached into Murphy's pockets. While Boyd and Murphy argued, Mann made his way to the door, unlocked it, and started to open it before Boyd grabbed him and Harris hit him on the head with a gun, which discharged. Murphy tried to escape by pushing through a window. Harris shot Murphy in response. Mann managed to escape and ran to his wife's car as she was starting to leave. Murphy exited the house and tried to reach Mann's car, but fell when additional gun shots were fired. Murphy was found unresponsive by police, and died during surgery.

         Police later stopped and arrested Ansley while she was driving other people from the Ewing Street residence. During the stop, police recovered a gun that Ansley identified at trial as the one that Boyd had previously placed in her car. A GBI firearm examiner testified the gun was used to fire the shell casings found at the crime scene.

         A few days after the shooting, Harris admitted to a fellow gang member that he shot Murphy. Harris said that Boyd initially shot Murphy because he thought Murphy was going to rob them. Harris also said that, once Murphy made it outside the house, Harris fired another shot at him. Harris also spoke to a GBI investigator after being advised of his rights. Harris initially denied any involvement in Murphy's death. He later admitted to the GBI investigator that he was present for the crime but denied shooting anyone.

         1. Although Harris does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, it is our practice in murder cases to review the record and determine whether the evidence was legally sufficient. Having done so, we conclude that the evidence outlined above was legally sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Harris was guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted under the standard of Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

         2. Harris argues that the trial court violated OCGA § 17-8-57 by commenting on the credibility of co-defendant Boyd when telling him, "You said you were going to stand up and be credible and be a man." Boyd had agreed prior to trial to be a State's witness in exchange for a grant of derivative use immunity, but indicated to a prosecutor during the trial that he had changed his mind. The State called him anyway, and he testified that Harris had nothing to do with the shooting. The State attempted to impeach Boyd with his prior contradictory statements. When the State attempted to ask additional questions on re-direct, the following occurred:

BOYD: I plead the Fifth.
COURT: You can't plead the Fifth because you've been given immunity.
BOYD: Well - oh, I've been - oh, so that means not [sic] ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.