MILLER, P. J., BROWN and GOSS, JJ.
appeal from his conviction after a bench trial on charges of
rape, incest, aggravated child molestation and child
molestation, Kado Renfro asserts that he was deprived of his
right to counsel when the trial court allowed him to
represent himself, that he received ineffective assistance
from his pretrial counsel, and that the court erred in
admitting evidence of other acts under OCGA § 24-4-413.
We find no error and affirm.
appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in
the light most favorable to the verdict, with the defendant
no longer enjoying a presumption of innocence."
(Citation omitted.) Reese v. State, 270 Ga.App. 522,
523 (607 S.E.2d 165) (2004). We neither weigh the evidence
nor judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only
whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, "any rational trier of
fact could have found the essential elements of the crime
beyond a reasonable doubt." (Emphasis omitted.)
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B) (99
S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
viewed in favor of the judgment, the record shows that the
victim, Renfro's biological daughter, was born in 2000
and spent her early childhood in Illinois, where Renfro began
molesting her when she was four or five years old. Between
2005 and 2011, Illinois courts barred Renfro from having any
contact with the victim. In 2011, however, Renfro petitioned
for and received the right to visitation with the victim and
her brother. In June 2012, Renfro moved to Duluth, Georgia.
In late 2012, Renfro drove to Illinois, picked up the victim,
and drove her back to Duluth. During this trip, Renfro
molested and raped the victim.
early April 2014, the victim again visited Duluth, during
which visit Renfro forced her to give and receive oral sex
and to have intercourse, during which Renfro told the victim,
"When I'm doing this to you, you're not my
daughter, you're my lover." Renfro eventually
ejaculated onto the victim's back, and the victim
suffered from bleeding afterwards. That night, Renfro
admitted to his wife, daughter, and son that he had been
molesting the victim for some time. He explained that he had
targeted the victim because she was the product of a
"sinful" or "satanic" relationship and
that she and her brother were "made to be sex
slaves." On their return to Illinois, the brother told
the children's mother about Renfro's admissions,
after which the mother called the police and obtained a
medical examination, which showed that the victim had blood
in her urine consistent with a sexual assault.
was arrested and charged with rape, incest, two counts of
aggravated child molestation, and one count of child
molestation, all arising from his April 2014 contact with the
victim. Before trial, the State filed notices of its
intention to introduce evidence that Renfro had previously
molested or raped the victim's brother and stepsister as
well as two daughters of family friends from Illinois. At
trial, the victim, her brother, and the two other girls
testified as to the details of these incidents. At the
conclusion of the bench trial, Renfro was found guilty on all
charges, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. His
motion for new trial was denied.
Although Renfro does not dispute the sufficiency of the
evidence against him, we have reviewed the record and
conclude that the evidence is indeed sufficient to sustain
his conviction. See OCGA §§ 16-6-1 (defining rape);
16-6-22 (defining incest); 16-6-4 (a), (c) (defining child
molestation and aggravated child molestation);
Renfro first asserts that his right to counsel was violated
when the trial court allowed him to represent himself at
trial. We disagree.
Although a criminal defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to
assistance of counsel at trial, the defendant also has the
constitutional right to represent himself, as long as he
voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently elects to waive the
right to counsel. To establish a valid waiver, the trial
court must apprise the defendant of the dangers and
disadvantages inherent in representing himself so that the
record will show that he knows what he is doing and his
choice is made with eyes open.
(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Davis v. State,
304 Ga.App. 355, 359 (2) (a) (696 S.E.2d 381) (2010); see
also Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 807, 835
(V) (95 S.Ct. 2525, 45 L.Ed.2d 562) (1975). "[A]
defendant's waiver of his right to counsel is valid if
the record reflects that the defendant was made aware of the
dangers of self-representation and nevertheless made a
knowing and intelligent waiver." (Citation, punctuation
and footnote omitted.) State v. Evans, 285 Ga. 67,
69 (673 S.E.2d 243) (2009).
[It is not] required that the trial court probe the
defendant's case and advise the defendant as to legal
strategies to ensure that a waiver is intelligently made.
Indeed, the defendant's technical legal knowledge is
irrelevant to the question of whether he validly waives his
right to be represented by counsel. The test is not whether
the accused is capable of good lawyering[, ] but whether he
knowingly and intelligently waives his right to counsel.
(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Id. Although
the State has the burden of showing that a defendant
"received sufficient information and guidance from the
trial court to make a knowing and intelligent waiver" of
the right to trial counsel, a trial court's ruling on
this issue is reviewed only for an abuse of discretion.
(Footnotes omitted.) Cox v. State, 317 Ga.App. 654,
654-655 (732 S.E.2d 321) (2012).
record shows that after learning that Renfro intended to
represent himself, the trial court devoted substantial time
and effort to ensuring that he understood the dangers of
proceeding thus. Specifically, the trial court warned Renfro
from the outset that self-representation was "always a
bad idea," that Renfro should not represent himself, and
that defendants with so-called "sovereign citizen"
beliefs such as his had never been successful; provided
Renfro with a copy of the indictment, to which Renfro
responded that he had "familiarized [himself] with the
statutory elements necessary to prove all" the charges;
asked whether Renfro understood the lesser-included offenses
of the charged crimes, and specifically suggested that he
should examine the lesser-included offenses to rape and
aggravated child molestation; and confirmed that Renfro did
not suffer from any mental disabilities or impairments and
had some experience representing himself. The record also
shows that the trial court authorized Renfro to keep his
previously appointed counsel as stand-by counsel, and that
Renfro availed himself of this resource throughout the trial.
Under these circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its
discretion when it ...