his conviction for the murder of Jack Thomas Beasley, Jr.,
Desmond Barnes appeals the denial of his motion for new
trial. Barnes argues that he received ineffective
assistance when his trial counsel: made an inflammatory
statement during cross-examination of one of the State's
witnesses; failed to secure a jury charge on mutual combat;
and failed to move to dismiss the jury panel when a potential
juror made a prejudicial statement. Barnes further argues
that the trial court erred in not granting his objection to
the court's instruction on malice murder. For the
following reasons, we disagree and affirm.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the
evidence presented at trial showed the following. On March 9,
2011, Barnes argued with his girlfriend about text messages
she received from another man. Barnes struck his girlfriend
and stormed out of the home after his mother intervened. As
Barnes was walking down the street, Barnes's mother heard
him shouting profanity at Jack Thomas Beasley, Jr., a
that day, Barnes was seen in the local grocery store, where
he informed several people that he had "knocked
out" Beasley. Barnes also requested a paper towel to
wipe some blood from his hand. One of Beasley's family
friends, who was also in the store, left to go check on
the family friend arrived at Beasley's home, he found
Beasley in the yard badly beaten and attempting to crawl on
his hands and knees back into his house. Beasley was taken by
ambulance to the hospital where he died from his injuries the
later told police that as he was walking by Beasley's
house, Beasley grabbed him, slammed him into the ground, and
then choked him. Barnes claimed that he eventually got to his
feet but that Beasley would not let go of his legs. Barnes
stated that he then kicked Beasley several times, eventually
knocking him out. However, Barnes told his girlfriend a
contradictory story - that the incident occurred because
Beasley was "in his business." Further, law
enforcement officers who observed Barnes after the incident
did not see any marks on Barnes's neck consistent with
being choked. Barnes also made inconsistent claims to police
regarding the location of the altercation and whether Beasley
was responsible for Barnes's black eye.
does not challenge the legal sufficiency of the evidence
supporting his conviction. Nevertheless, in accordance with
this Court's practice in murder cases, we have reviewed
the record and conclude that the evidence presented at trial
was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find Barnes
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of which he was
convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99
S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979); see also Vega v.
State, 285 Ga. 32, 33 (1) (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 omitted).
Barnes argues that he received ineffective assistance when
his trial counsel: (a) made an inflammatory statement during
cross-examination of one of the State's witnesses; (b)
failed to secure a jury charge on mutual combat; and (c)
failed to move to dismiss the jury panel when a potential
juror made a prejudicial statement.
In order to succeed on his claims of ineffective assistance,
[Barnes] must prove both that his trial counsel's
performance was deficient and that there is a reasonable
probability that the trial result would have been different
if not for the deficient performance. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d
674) (1984). If an appellant fails to meet his or her burden
of proving either prong of the Strickland test, the
reviewing court does not have to examine the other prong.
Id. at 697 (IV); Fuller v. State, 277 Ga.
505 (3) (591 S.E.2d 782) (2004). In reviewing the trial
court's decision, we accept the trial court's factual
findings and credibility determinations unless clearly
erroneous, but we independently apply the legal principles to
the facts. Robinson v. State, 277 Ga. 75, 76 (586
S.E.2d 313) (2003).
(Punctuation omitted.) Wright v. State, 291 Ga. 869,
870 (2) (734 S.E.2d 876) (2012). Furthermore, "[t]rial
tactics and strategy . . . are almost never adequate grounds
for finding trial counsel ineffective unless they are so
patently unreasonable that no competent attorney would have
chosen them." (Citation omitted.) McNair v.
State, 296 Ga. 181, 184 (2) (b) (766 S.E.2d 45) (2014).
Barnes contends that his trial counsel's choice of words
while questioning a GBI witness had a "cumulative
effect" of harming his right to a fair trial and that
his trial counsel was therefore ineffective. We disagree.
Barnes's trial counsel questioned the witness about the
attack, the following exchange occurred:
Q: Maybe I'm beating a dead horse to death, but
you still haven't told me how he got on the ground. I
mean, did he just come up to him and cold cock him and knock