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.

Mims v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

January 22, 2019


          Peterson, Justice.

         Skyy Raven Marie Mims was convicted of malice murder and other crimes related to the stabbing death of Dahyabhai Chaudhari during an armed robbery and of theft by bringing a stolen vehicle into the state.[1] Following an earlier remand by this Court, Mims appeals and argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain her theft conviction, her trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance, and her due process rights were violated when the trial court denied her request to be present at the motion for new trial hearing on remand in order to support her ineffectiveness claims. We reverse Mims's theft conviction because trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move to sever this count from the murder-related offenses. All of the remaining ineffectiveness claims against trial counsel fail, and because these claims fail for reasons independent of her absence at the hearing, her due process rights were not violated. Therefore, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

         Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury verdicts, the trial evidence showed the following. On January 30, 2014, Christopher Sears drove his fiancée's car, a green 2012 Kia Soul, to work in the Detroit, Michigan area. Before he left work for the day, Sears had his boss start the car and left it running to warm up while Sears remained inside to finish his work. Sears saw someone about six feet tall climb into the car and drive away in the vehicle. Sears did not get a good look at the thief, who was shielding his or her face with a hooded sweatshirt, but told the police that he thought the thief was a white male. Sears testified that the thief had "blondish-brown, crinkly, curly" hair. Sears's wallet was in the console of the car when it was stolen, and the vehicle had a Michigan State University license plate frame. The car was reported stolen, and insurance paid about $11, 000.

         Mims, a black woman about six feet tall, lived in Detroit around the time of the theft. Shortly after the theft, Mims announced on Facebook that she had moved to Atlanta. Upon arriving in Georgia, Mims initially lived in a green 2012 Kia Soul before eventually moving into a house with Kylle Harewood, Harewood's girlfriend, and the girlfriend's family.

         Sometime in early March 2014, Mims became very happy when she thought she had a winning lottery ticket, but Harewood told her it was not a winning ticket. Afterward, Mims talked about all the things she could do if she won money. On March 8, Mims purchased a red bandana, gloves, a roll of red duct tape, a fish fillet knife, and an Airsoft pistol that she painted to make it look like a real gun. Later that day, Harewood, with others nearby, asked Mims about the duct tape she had placed on the bottom of her shoes. Mims replied jokingly that "the less [they] know, the better" and "I'm going to go in there, ask them how much is in the register."

         The next day, Mims drove a 2012 green Kia Soul to three different gas stations in Whitfield County. The clerks at the first two stores testified that Mims acted strangely, and one clerk said that Mims had asked how much money was in the register and whether the store had a safe.

         Mims entered the third gas station, a Kanku's Express. Mims had burnt-orange colored blond hair, wore a black hooded sweatshirt and gloves, and carried a bag over her shoulder. She went to the bathroom, stayed there for some time, and briefly spoke to the store clerk, Chaudhari, upon exiting the bathroom. She left the store and waited outside until all the customers and cars left, at which point she reentered the store and immediately went back to the bathroom. Mims exited the bathroom wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, a red bandana, and a roll of duct tape on her right wrist. Holding what appeared to be a gun, Mims ran toward Chaudhari; Chaudhari tried to flee into the kitchen at the back of the store and unsuccessfully attempted to close a door on Mims. The two struggled, causing Mims to drop the gun. Mims pulled out a knife and stabbed Chaudhari twice. Mims closed the door to the kitchen and covered Chaudhari's mouth and eyes with red duct tape. Mims then began to apply pressure to Chaudhari's nose and mouth area and suffocated him until he stopped moving. Mims collected some of her things, rummaged through Chaudhari's pockets, and grabbed a roll of lottery tickets and money from the cash register before she left.

         Several customers entered the store soon after Mims left, discovered Chaudhari's body, and called the police. When police arrived, they found Chaudhari lying in a large pool of blood and a cell phone next to Chaudhari that was later connected to Mims. The events at Kanku's Express were captured by surveillance cameras and the video recording was played for the jury. Chaudhari died from the stab wounds.

         Police later located Mims at her residence and saw the Kia Soul parked outside. After police arrested Mims, they searched the residence and found approximately 80 $500-a-week-for-life lottery tickets, keys to the Kia Soul, a pair of large sunglasses, and a white hooded sweatshirt. Police also searched the Kia Soul and found additional $500-a-week-for-life lottery tickets, a pair of black boots with red duct tape on the soles, gloves with red duct tape on them, and a black bag containing a roll of red duct tape, a knife with red duct tape on the handle, and an Airsoft pistol. DNA analysis revealed that Chaudhari's blood was found on the knife, the gloves had blood from Chaudhari on the outside and Mims's DNA on the inside, and the red duct tape tested positive for Chaudhari's DNA.

         Police also found several other items inside the vehicle: Mims's wallet containing a MasterCard belonging to Sears; a Michigan State University license plate frame in the back hatch; and Sears's wallet and driver's license in the hatch. Police also discovered that the license tag number had been altered. The Kia Soul also contained personal items belonging to Mims, including documents and receipts issued to Mims before January 30, 2014, that were from Michigan, and documents and receipts bearing later dates that were created in Georgia.

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

         (a) Mims argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain her conviction for theft by bringing stolen property into the state. We disagree.

         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 she 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).

         OCGA § 16-8-9 provides that "[a] person commits the offense of theft by bringing stolen property into this state when he brings into this state any property which he knows or should know has been stolen in another state." A defendant's knowledge that goods are stolen can be established by direct evidence or circumstantial evidence that would, in the opinion of the jury, lead a reasonable person to believe that the property was stolen. Cunningham v. State, 222 Ga.App. 740, 742 (1) (b) (475 S.E.2d 924) (1996). As the offense was charged in the indictment, the State also had to prove that the stolen Kia Soul had a value of at least $5, 000. See OCGA § 16-8-12 (a) (1) (B).

         There is no dispute that the 2012 Kia Soul found in Mims's possession in Georgia was stolen in Michigan, and the evidence authorized a jury to find that Mims brought the vehicle into Georgia. The stolen vehicle contained documents belonging to Mims that were issued in Michigan around the time of the theft, and Mims announced she was in Georgia and was living out of that same vehicle just days after the theft. See Smith v. State, 256 Ga.App. 22, 23 (567 S.E.2d 359) (2002) (jury could conclude that defendant brought stolen vehicle into the state where the evidence showed that defendant had possession of the car in another state after the theft).

         The evidence also authorized a finding that Mims knew or should have known that the car had been stolen. Indeed, the evidence supported a finding that Mims stole the vehicle. Sears reported that the vehicle was stolen in Michigan by someone who was about six feet tall and had "blondish-brown, crinkly, curly" hair. Mims was living in Detroit at the time of the theft, is about six feet tall, and had burnt-orange colored blond hair at the time of the offenses in Georgia. Although Mims cites Sears's statements to police in which he said he thought a white male stole the vehicle, Sears testified at trial that he did not see the thief's face or "skin features." In ...

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.