NAHMIAS, PRESIDING JUSTICE.
Andre Myrick was convicted of felony murder and a firearm
offense in connection with the shooting death of Kenneth
Bevis. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by
denying his Batson challenge as to three prospective
jurors. He also argues that the court erred by denying his
request for a mistrial after the jury heard a police
detective refer to statements made by a witness who died
before the trial and that the State committed prosecutorial
misconduct by introducing this evidence. We
Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the
evidence presented at Appellant's trial showed the
following. On the morning of July 6, 2013, Bevis left his
apartment in Atlanta, where Andrea Barry was sleeping, and
picked up Kari Staymosse from the hotel where she was living.
Bevis and Staymosse planned to use crack cocaine together.
They stopped at a convenience store to get supplies for their
crack pipe and then went to Bevis's apartment. When they
arrived there around noon, Appellant and Barry were standing
in the living room near the front door. Bevis and Staymosse
knew Appellant, because they would sometimes use drugs
together and Appellant used to live in Bevis's apartment
said to Bevis and Staymosse, "Thank God you are
here"; she then retreated to the bedroom. Bevis asked
Appellant what he was doing there and said, "You are not
welcome. Please leave." In response, Appellant pulled
out a gun and said, "I'm not going nowhere."
Bevis put his hands up and sat down on the couch; Staymosse
sat in a chair across from him. Appellant was talking very
fast, sweating, and seemed "pretty sh[a]ken up."
While Appellant was "ranting and raving" for about
three minutes, Bevis kept his head down, shaking it. Then
Appellant told Bevis, "Because of you, I will never see
my daughter again," and shot Bevis in the
chest. After the gunshot, Barry, who had remained
in the bedroom, jumped out of the bedroom window, causing a
loud crash. When Appellant heard it, he fled the apartment.
Staymosse immediately called 911. Barry, who had run to a
nearby business, got an employee there to call 911 as
the police arrived, Bevis was dead. His body was slumped
between the couch and coffee table. He had been shot once in
the chest; the bullet's trajectory was consistent with
the gun's being positioned higher than his chest.
Staymosse identified Appellant as the shooter, described him,
and picked him out of a photo lineup.
12:21 p.m., about 15 minutes after the shooting, Leslie
Breland called 911 to report that she had seen a man walking
swiftly through her backyard, which was surrounded by a
six-foot-high wooden fence, then through her garage and down
her driveway. Two boards on the fence had been pulled up to
create a hole in the fence. When the police arrived, they
could not find the man. Breland was later shown a photo
lineup and identified the photograph of Appellant, whom she
did not know, as the man who walked through her yard. When
measured through the woods behind Breland's yard, the
distance to Bevis's apartment building was less than 700
feet. Around 6:00 p.m., another person called 911 and
reported seeing a man who matched Appellant's description
coming out of the bushes onto the road. That spot was about
seven-tenths of a mile on foot from Bevis's apartment
building. Police responded to that call quickly and located
Appellant walking a short distance down the road. He was
taken to the police station and interviewed.
told the police the following story. At the time of the
murder, he was sleeping in Room 181 at the Cheshire Motor
Inn. He woke up at 1:00 p.m., went to the InTown Suites to
visit friends from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and then went to
Midtown Bowling from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. While there, he
ordered a sandwich called a Big Nasty. Appellant said that
although he was friends with Bevis, the last time they had
seen each other was about two weeks earlier.
path between the Cheshire Motor Inn and the InTown Suites
would not have taken Appellant through the yard where Breland
saw him. The police also determined that a man who had never
met Appellant rented Room 181 from July 4 to July 6; although
he left at 2:00 p.m. on July 5, so he was not there during
the night before the murder, he did not check out and the
room was not rented to anyone else. And no one purchased a
Big Nasty sandwich at Midtown Bowling between 3:00 p.m. and
6:00 p.m. on the day of the murder.
addition, cell phone records showed that on July 3, three
days before the murder, Appellant called Bevis seven times
between 6:30 and 6:54 p.m. The next day, Appellant called
Bevis seven more times between 9:04 and 11:40 p.m. Most of
these calls were less than a minute, which a detective
testified usually indicates that the call went to voicemail.
The longest call lasted one minute and one second. Appellant
did not call Bevis again, but at 12:11 a.m. on July 5, he
sent a text message to Bevis saying, "I got those 50 $
grams now and its good." Bevis responded, "You need
to lose this phone number I don't need idiots hanging
around me." Appellant answered, "I understand buddy
but that was when i was getting high and this is now . . .
things r getting back to the way i was mentall. But I must
admit that somebody f**ked . . . Me up! Somebody put
something in my drink or food or something & i think i
knw who it was but they r gone."
did not testify at trial, but his video-recorded interview
was played for the jury. His main defense theory was that the
police did not do a thorough investigation, particularly
because they relied so heavily on the word of Staymosse
rather than treating her as a suspect.
does not dispute the legal sufficiency of the evidence
supporting his convictions. Nevertheless, as is this
Court's usual practice in murder cases, we have reviewed
the record and conclude that, when viewed in the light most
favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented at trial
and summarized above was sufficient to authorize a rational
jury to find Appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of
felony murder and possession of a firearm during the
commission of a felony. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 319 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). See
also Vega v. State, 285 Ga. 32, 33 (673 S.E.2d 223)
(2009) ("'It was for the jury to determine the
credibility of the witnesses and to resolve any conflicts or
inconsistencies in the evidence.'" (citation
At the end of jury voir dire, Appellant raised a challenge
under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (106 S.Ct.
1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69) (1986), based on the State's use of
six of its eight peremptory strikes for jury members and both
of its two peremptory strikes for alternates on prospective
jurors who were African-American, meaning that the State used
eight out of ten of its strikes (80%) on a group that made up
only 36% of the jury venire. The trial court ruled that
Appellant had made a prima facie case. The prosecutor then
explained his reasons for each of the eight challenged
strikes. Appellant conceded that the reasons for three of the
State's strikes were race-neutral, and on appeal he does
not challenge two other strikes.
the three strikes Appellant challenges here, the prosecutor
offered the following reasons. Juror 9 was very young and
once had her driver's license suspended for missing
school. Juror 13 had a physical disability that could make it
hard for him to sit for long periods, he was convicted of
misdemeanor drug charges five years earlier, and his
driver's license had been suspended. Juror 20 did not
provide much information in response to questions and seemed
uncomfortable talking about her aunt's and uncle's
use of heroin and crack cocaine, and the prosecutor "did
not get a good vibe from her."
disputed each of these reasons. He argued that one of the
jurors accepted by the State, who Appellant acknowledged was
African-American, was close in age to Juror 9. Appellant
argued that Juror 13 said his disability would not prevent
him from serving and that another juror (also
African-American) had a DUI, which would have included a
license suspension. As to Juror 20, Appellant argued that two
other jurors did not provide many answers on their
questionnaire and another was soft-spoken. He further argued
that Juror 20 ...