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Dorsey v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

May 7, 2018


          Peterson, Justice.

         Shakeim Malcom Dorsey appeals his convictions for malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the shooting death of Derickes Miles.[1] Dorsey argues (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the trial court (2) erroneously allowed the medical examiner to testify about matters outside his area of knowledge and (3) erroneously admitted a witness's prior consistent statements. We affirm because the evidence was sufficient to support Dorsey's convictions, Dorsey invited any error regarding the medical examiner's testimony, and the witness's prior consistent statements became admissible after Dorsey suggested that the witness had fabricated his testimony.

         Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury verdicts, the trial evidence showed the following. On the morning of April 19, 2013, Dorsey and his girlfriend, Iesha Wiggins, had an argument in their apartment. David Wiggins, Iesha's cousin, was also there, and Lashonda Jackson, Iesha's friend, was outside the apartment. David tried to intervene on his cousin's behalf, but Dorsey hit him and a fight ensued. When David let Dorsey get up off the floor, Dorsey ran into a room and grabbed a black revolver. David reasoned with Dorsey, and the men shook hands. David left the apartment complex with Jackson; as he was leaving, David heard Dorsey resume yelling at Iesha and saw Dorsey hit her.

         Soon thereafter, Jackson called members of Iesha's family. Based on this phone call, Iesha's cousins (Alliyah and Delinda Wiggins) and the cousins' boyfriends (Derickes Miles and Lacody Edmonds) became concerned about Iesha's welfare and walked to Iesha's apartment to check on her. Alliyah and Delinda testified that no one in the group had a weapon and that their brother David was not with them at the time.

         Alliyah and Miles were the first to arrive at Iesha's apartment. Alliyah knocked on the door and Miles announced his presence. Alliyah heard Iesha say, "Don't do it, Malcom. Don't do it." Dorsey then opened the door and pointed a gun at Miles. Alliyah took off running and heard Miles say, "so what [are] you going to do, shoot me?" before seeing him run away as well. Alliyah then saw Dorsey start shooting at Miles. By this time, Delinda and Edmonds were close to the apartment. Delinda saw Alliyah running away with a look of terror on her face and then heard a gunshot; she and Edmonds also fled. As she ran, Delinda saw Dorsey chasing Miles and shooting at him.

         An eyewitness testified at trial that he heard two gunshots and immediately stepped outside his business to investigate. He saw a screaming woman running down the street, and a man being chased by another man with a gun. The eyewitness retreated inside, saw the two men next to his business, and heard at least three gunshots fired next to his building. The eyewitness testified at trial that he heard a total of six gunshots, with about a one-minute interval between the first two shots and the third, a two-minute interval after the third shot, and the last three shots fired in quick succession. The eyewitness, who owned several guns, believed that the gunshots were all fired from either a .38 or .32 caliber revolver.

         After hearing the last gunshot, the eyewitness heard one of the men moaning and went outside to check on him. The man, later identified as Miles, was in a fetal position and did not have any weapons near him. Miles had been struck by a bullet in the back and died as a result of the gunshot wound.

         The medical examiner testified that the bullet entered at the bottom of Miles's rib cage and traveled about five inches through his right lung and the right atrium of his heart. The medical examiner testified that the tip of the bullet had a slight deformity that was consistent with hitting one of Miles's ribs. The medical examiner opined that the trajectory of the bullet was consistent with Miles being shot in the back while he was bent forward. A firearms examiner testified that the .38 caliber bullet recovered from Miles's body was fired from a revolver.

         At trial, Dorsey claimed self-defense. He testified that there was a loud banging on the apartment door following his altercation with David Wiggins. Dorsey answered the door and saw David, Miles, and Edmonds. Dorsey admitted on cross-examination that his .38 revolver was loaded and in his pocket when he answered the door. Dorsey testified that while he was standing in the doorway, Miles said aggressively, "You know what it is, " and Edmonds began reaching for a gun in his waistband. Dorsey said that he panicked and fired two shots to protect himself and his family, but never intended to shoot anyone. The three men left, and Dorsey followed to see where they had gone. When he did not see anyone, he went back inside the apartment to grab some money and then fled the scene for fear that the men would return and retaliate.

         1. The evidence was sufficient to sustain Dorsey's convictions.

         Dorsey argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions because the State's witnesses gave conflicting testimony about how many shots Dorsey fired and where he fired them from, and the conflicting testimony was not resolved by the physical evidence. He also argues that no witness could eliminate the possibility of a ricochet striking the victim and moving upward through the victim's body, and because Dorsey had no reason to kill Miles, the evidence was more consistent with Dorsey's claim that he shot Miles in self-defense or, in the alternative, that he was guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

         When we consider the legal sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and inquire only whether any rational trier of fact might find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979); White v. State, 293 Ga. 523, 523 (1) (753 S.E.2d 115) (2013). Under this review, we must "put aside any questions about conflicting evidence, the credibility of witnesses, or the weight of the evidence, leaving the resolution of such things to the discretion of the trier of fact." White, 293 Ga. at 523 (1).

         Under this standard, the evidence was sufficient to support Dorsey's convictions. Although Dorsey claimed that he was provoked into shooting at Miles because Miles was with men who were threatening him, Alliyah testified that (1) no one but Miles was with her when she knocked on the apartment door, (2) Miles was unarmed, and (3) Dorsey pointed a gun at Miles immediately upon answering the door. Alliyah also testified that when Miles fled, Dorsey chased him and shot at him. Other witnesses corroborated Alliyah's testimony. A business owner testified that six shots were fired from either a .32 or .38 caliber revolver, with the last three shots fired in quick succession next to the business owner's store, which belied Dorsey's claim that he fired only two shots from his .38 caliber revolver while standing outside of his apartment door. Given this evidence, the jury was authorized to reject Dorsey's claim that he was provoked into shooting Miles or that he fired in self-defense. See Fairclough v. State, 276 Ga. 602, 603-604 (2) (581 S.E.2d 3) (2003) (evidence sufficient to support malice murder conviction notwithstanding defendant's arguments that eyewitness testimony was insufficient to identify him as the shooter and there were inconsistencies as to the type of bullet that inflicted the fatal wound); Roper v. State, 281 Ga. 878, 880 (1) (644 S.E.2d 120) (2007) (witness credibility is for jury to decide, as is the question of justification; therefore, jury is free to reject claim that defendant acted in self-defense).

         2. Dorsey argues that the trial court erred in allowing the medical examiner's testimony that the condition of the bullet recovered from Miles's body was inconsistent with a ricochet off concrete or asphalt; Dorsey claims that the medical examiner's ...

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