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Johnson v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Second Division

February 7, 2019

JOHNSON
v.
THE STATE.

          MILLER, P. J., BROWN and GOSS, JJ.

          Brown, Judge.

         A jury found Marquis Johnson guilty of aggravated assault and criminal damage to property in the second degree. In this appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying his request to charge the jury on the lesser included offense of simple assault and that the evidence was not sufficient to support his conviction for aggravated assault. For the reasons explained below, we disagree and affirm.

         On appeal from a criminal conviction, the standard for reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence

is whether a rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This Court does not reweigh evidence or resolve conflicts in testimony; instead, evidence is reviewed in a light most favorable to the verdict, with deference to the jury's assessment of the weight and credibility of the evidence.

(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Hayes v. State, 292 Ga. 506 (739 S.E.2d 313) (2013). So viewed, the record shows that the charges against Johnson arose from an argument with his stepfather. It began when the stepfather denied Johnson's second request to use a car to drive to a college class instead of his mother or stepfather driving him and dropping him off. The stepfather testified that "things got out of hand" when he told Johnson again that he could not use the car, and the stepfather admitted that he could have handled the situation better. At some point during the altercation, the stepfather walked up the street because he was upset and needed to "cool off." At this point, no physical altercation had taken place.

         As the stepfather walked back toward his house, Johnson's mother yelled for him to bring the car keys. The stepfather described what happened next in the following ways:

When I came back, I lunged at - went at my car, he thought I was coming at him, that's when my wife got bumped, she hit against her car, and so - she was upset and he saw that, and that's when he ran in the house.
. . .
That's when he thought I was lunging at him and his mother and that's when he got defensive, and that's when she hit . . . the car because I came up, going to give her the keys and get in my car and just go, and then he saw me bump his mother and that's when he reacted.
. . .
What I did, I walked down here, he was standing - him and his mother was standing right there by the doorway, then they walked towards the car, she said just give me the keys, and I went at her like this here (demonstrating), he was standing there and I bumped him. That's when he ran in the house because he thought there was going to be a physical altercation.

         When Johnson returned after going inside the house, he was holding a knife in each hand. Johnson did not lunge at his stepfather or try to cut him; "he just held the knives up." The stepfather testified that Johnson "never got closer than ten feet" to him. After Johnson came outside with the knives, the stepfather ran across the street and picked up a stick of quarter round molding lying outside a neighbor's garage to defend himself in case Johnson came close to him with the knives. While the stepfather was running across the street and had his back turned, Johnson smashed the windshield of his stepfather's car. After the stepfather picked up the stick, both men were screaming and yelling, with the stepfather telling Johnson to "put them knives down" and Johnson asking the stepfather to "fight me like a man." At one point, the stepfather put the stick down and told Johnson, "[L]ook, I'm not going to do anything to you, put the knives down," but Johnson refused and continued to shout "fight me like a man." The stepfather testified at trial that he was "[a]t no time . . . in fear for my life, I was just getting something to protect me. . . . Just in case he got any closer so I can, you know, ward it off."

         The State established during the stepfather's testimony at trial that his recollection of the events changed after he initially spoke with the police. The stepfather told the police that Johnson smashed the windshield before he went into the house to get the knives, that Johnson chased him with the knives, and that he feared for his life "because of the simple fact that he got two knives and . . . I have a ...


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