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Graves v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

March 15, 2018

GRAVES
v.
THE STATE.

          Boggs, Justice.

         Travis Lesean Graves was acquitted of armed robbery but found guilty of two counts each of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the deaths of Antonio Smith and Delaine King.[1] His amended motion for new trial was denied, and he appeals, asserting as his sole enumeration of error the trial court's striking of alibi testimony for failure to give notice under OCGA § 17-16-5 (a). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         Construed to support the verdict, the evidence showed that on July 3, 2012, Smith, King, and four others were at Smith's home on Willa Drive in DeKalb County, watching television. Shortly before 11:00 p.m., Graves knocked on the door seeking to buy drugs from Smith. Their conversation became an argument, then a physical struggle, and Graves declared, "F-k man, I'm fixing to kill all of y'all." Graves shot and killed Smith and King despite their offering him money and begging for their lives; the others escaped by hiding or jumping out of windows. Another witness approached the kitchen door of the home from outside when she heard gunshots, stumbled over a body, and saw a man, whom she described in detail, standing in the kitchen with his arm out, saying "You can get it too." She hid behind a car, then saw the same man come running from the house, and heard more gunshots.

         Graves went to his mother's home, where a witness saw him enter the house "disoriented, like in shock, " with blood on his shirt, pants, and shoes. According to this witness, Graves gave his mother some money, and said, "I did something." He arrived "in the wee hours, " around 12 o'clock, and left about an hour later. Police interviewed the other occupants of Smith's house; one knew Graves personally and identified him as the shooter. Others identified the shooter as a man they knew as "Travis, " whose sister was a reality television star. Three eyewitnesses identified Graves from a photo lineup, and four identified him in court.

         On December 16, 2013, the State served on Graves' attorney a "State's Demand for Written Notice of Defendant's Intention to Offer a Defense of Alibi" pursuant to OCGA § 17-16-5. Graves did not respond. Before trial, Graves filed a "Certificate of Discovery" and a witness list identifying his mother as a witness, but she was never identified as an alibi witness.

         At trial, Graves' mother testified that she was at work and not at home on the evening of the murders. Later, she testified that the witness who testified that Graves came home with blood on his clothes and spoke to her was not "a nice guy" and was not at her house that evening. During cross-examination, she denied repeatedly that the prosecutor had attempted to contact her by phone before trial. The State then asked her:

Q. It's your testimony that you weren't at your home on the night of July 3rd and morning of July 4th, 2012?
A. Yes.
Q. So because you weren't home, you can't say who was there that night, can you?
A. Yes.
Q. Yes, you can say?
A. I called and checked on my house.
Q. Okay. Who was ...

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