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Daniels v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Fifth Division

March 8, 2019


          MCFADDEN, P. J., RICKMAN and MARKLE, JJ.

          McFadden, Presiding Judge.

         After a jury trial, Kareem Daniels was convicted of robbery by force. He appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in not allowing him to impeach the victim with a prior inconsistent statement, that the state knowingly failed to correct false testimony from the victim, and that the admission of black and white photographs instead of the original color versions constituted plain error. But Daniels has failed to show that the trial court abused its discretion in prohibiting cross-examination about a collateral matter, that the testimony in question was actually false, or that the admission of the photographs affected the outcome of the trial. Accordingly, we affirm.

         1. Facts and procedural posture.

         Construed in favor of the verdict, see Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979), the evidence shows that on September 28, 2012, Lekeidra Taylor was walking to her apartment from a bus stop after work when Daniels drove slowly past her in an SUV. Daniels parked his vehicle in the apartment complex, got out of it, and forced Taylor into the back seat of his vehicle. Taylor pushed Daniels away and got out of the vehicle, but during the struggle Daniels took Taylor's wallet from her. Taylor used her cell phone to take a picture of Daniels holding her wallet and a picture of the license plate on his vehicle. Daniels eventually left the scene in his vehicle and Taylor called 911 to report the incident. Police apprehended Daniels later that evening.

         The jury found Daniels guilty of robbery by force and the trial court imposed a 20-year sentence, with five years to be served in confinement and the remainder to be served on probation.[1] Daniels appealed, and this court granted his motion to remand the case to the trial court to consider the admission of photographic evidence and whether the state had knowingly elicited false testimony from the victim. After a hearing on remand, the trial court found no errors and denied a new trial. Daniels filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied, and this appeal followed.

         2. Prior inconsistent statement.

         Daniels contends that the trial court erred in prohibiting him from impeaching the victim with a prior inconsistent statement. We review that ruling for abuse of discretion and find no such abuse. See Thomas v. State, 293 Ga. 829, 833 (4) (750 S.E.2d 297) (2013); Cruz v. State, 347 Ga.App. 810, 813 (2) (821 S.E.2d 44) (2018).

         On direct examination, Taylor testified that she had met Daniels several months before the robbery while she was working at a Kroger grocery store. While explaining that at the time of the robbery she no longer worked at Kroger but was working at a hotel, Taylor testified: "I basically left Kroger because I wanted to . . . get into the healthcare field. And when it really wasn't going well for me, I still had my CNA [certified nursing assistant] at that time, I had finished job corp[s] and it was kind of hard to find a CNA job, so I tried looking for other jobs and that's when I went into the [hotel] position[.]" On cross-examination, defense counsel sought to impeach Taylor's testimony that she had left Kroger to get into the healthcare field by asking her if the reason she had left was because she had been caught shoplifting. Taylor replied: "No, I wasn't caught shoplifting."

         The state objected to the line of questioning as irrelevant. Outside the presence of the jury, defense counsel produced a statement that Taylor had purportedly written upon resigning from Kroger. Counsel read the following statement into the record:

I did a transaction for a refund that I put on a gift card that I didn't buy. I didn't receive as a gift. I kept the gift card and used it. I've also used another employee's Kroger card to get his employee discount. Earlier this week, I did another transaction, the same as one month ago and did the same thing. I'm willing to pay back the money that I put on the gift cards and the money that was discounted to me from the employee Kroger card. As of March 31, I will resign from Kroger.

         The trial court sustained the state's objection and prohibited use of the statement for further questioning about Taylor's resignation from Kroger, finding that it was irrelevant and collateral to the issues in the case.

         (a) OCGA § 24-6-613 (b).

         "Georgia's new Evidence Code took effect on January 1, 2013, [approximately 10 months] before [Daniels'] trial began. On the issue of admitting extrinsic evidence of a witness's prior inconsistent statement, OCGA § 24-6-613 (b) substantially adopted the language of Federal Rule of ...

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