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Mahone v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Third Division

January 30, 2019

MAHONE
v.
THE STATE.

          GOBEIL, COOMER and HODGES, JJ.

          GOBEIL, JUDGE.

         Following a jury trial, Deron M. Mahone was convicted in Muscogee County Superior Court of home invasion in the first degree, aggravated assault, and assault on an unborn child. Mahone now appeals from the denial of his motion for a directed verdict on the home invasion count, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction on that charge. We agree, and we therefore reverse Mahone's conviction for home invasion in the first degree and remand for resentencing.

         "On appeal from a criminal conviction, the defendant is no longer entitled to a presumption of innocence and we therefore construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's guilty verdict." Maddox v. State, 346 Ga.App. 674, 675 (816 S.E.2d 796) (2018) (citation and punctuation omitted). So viewed, the record shows that on the morning of June 12, 2015, Mahone broke into the apartment of his ex-girlfriend, Sheaneria Willis, by kicking in the apartment's front door. Mahone proceeded up the apartment's stairs to a bedroom, where Willis was attempting to call 911. Once Mahone reached the bedroom, he assaulted Willis with a clothes iron he found in the apartment. He beat Willis with such force that the iron broke into several pieces. . Additionally, Mahone kicked Willis, who at the time was six months pregnant with his child, in the ribs and genital area. After beating Willis unconscious, Mahone apparently left the apartment. When Willis regained consciousness, she fled to the apartment of a neighbor, who called 911. Willis was transported to the hospital, where she was treated for one or more orbital fractures, a broken arm and hand, a large facial laceration, multiple fractured ribs, and a placenta bleed.

         Mahone was eventually arrested and indicted on a single count each of home invasion in the first degree, aggravated assault, and assault on an unborn child. The count charging Mahone with home invasion alleged that:

on or about the 12th day of June, 2015, without authority and with intent to commit aggravated assault, a forcible felony, therein and while in possession of an iron, an instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to result in serious bodily injury, did enter the dwelling house of Shenearia Willis while such dwelling house was occupied by said Shenearia Willis, a person with authority to be present therein . . . .

(emphasis supplied).

         At the close of the evidence, Mahone moved for a directed verdict on the charge of home invasion in the first degree, noting that the State had failed to prove that he was in possession of the iron at the time he entered Willis's apartment. The trial court denied the motion, finding that because Mahone broke into the apartment for the purpose of assaulting Willis, his entry was not complete until he located Willis in the apartment's bedroom and began the assault.

         The jury found Mahone guilty on all of the charged counts. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court entered judgment on the jury's verdict and sentenced Mahone to life imprisonment on Count 1 (home invasion in the first degree); 20 years' imprisonment on Count 2 (aggravated assault), and 12 months to serve on Count 3 (assault on an unborn child), with all sentences to run consecutively. Mahone now appeals the trial court's judgment.

         1. Although Mahone does not contest the legal sufficiency of the evidence of his guilt as to the charges of aggravated assault and assault on an unborn child, in accordance with this Court's general practice, we have reviewed the record and conclude that the evidence presented at trial authorized the jury to find Mahone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of those crimes. See Wade v. State, 305 Ga.App. 819, 821 (701 S.E.2d 214) (2010) ("[a]s long as there is some competent evidence, even though contradicted, to support each fact necessary to make out the State's case, the jury's verdict will be upheld"). See also OCGA § 16-5-21 (a) (defining aggravated assault); OCGA § 16-5-28 (b) (defining assault on an unborn child).

         2. In his sole enumeration of error, Mahone contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for home invasion in the first degree. We agree.

         The charging language of the indictment on the home invasion count tracked the language of OCGA § 16-7-5. That statute provides, in relevant part:

A person commits the offense of home invasion in the first degree when, without authority and with intent to commit a forcible felony therein and while in possession of a deadly weapon or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury, he or she enters the dwelling house of another ...

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