MELTON, CHIEF JUSTICE.
Blaine was tried on a 38-count indictment and convicted of
numerous offenses, including murder, in connection with a
string of robberies that took place between October 2005 and
September 2006. Blaine appeals, arguing that the
prosecutor made improper statements during closing arguments,
that he was denied his rights to due process and access to
the courts, and that he was denied effective assistance of
counsel. Finding no error, we affirm.
in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the
evidence presented at trial established that, at all relevant
times, Blaine, a convicted felon, led a group of people
around DeKalb County with the purpose of robbing drug dealers
and others. Tori Moore, Jamal Callaway, Quazzard James, Berry
Welborn, Johnny Travitt, Walter Landers, Cara Johnson, Curtis
Frezzell, and Darren Batteast were some of the individuals
involved in this group; however, not all participated in
every robbery. Blaine would choose the targets of, and
devise the plans for, every robbery, and then the group would
execute his directions. After each robbery was completed, the
group would split up whatever proceeds and items were taken.
robbery of Terrell Crook (Counts 1-2)
October 12, 2005, Crook was selling drugs out of a motel room
at a Super 8 off of Panola Road in DeKalb County. Blaine
chose Crook to be the target of a robbery and enlisted
Landers and Moore for help. Moore was to act as the
lure/getaway driver and Landers was to assist with the
robbery. That evening, Crook ran into Moore and invited her
into his room for a conversation. The two spoke for a few
minutes, after which Moore indicated that she needed to
leave. Thereafter, Blaine and Landers kicked in the door;
Blaine held a gun to Crook's face and said, "you
already know what it is." As Crook lay on the floor,
Blaine hit him in the back of the head with the gun. The men
then raided Crook's motel room, taking his clothes,
drugs, money, a gun, and a PlayStation video game unit.
of Eric Banks (Counts 1, 3-10)
November 17, 2005, Blaine called Landers about robbing
someone at Pinewood Apartments in DeKalb County. When Landers
declined to participate, Blaine recruited James and Welborn.
Moore drove Blaine, James, and Welborn to the back of the
apartment complex and dropped them off so the men could
commit the robbery. Blaine was carrying a .380 caliber gun
and James carried a Makarvo 9 mm.
went to the apartment of Banks, a known drug dealer; Welborn
approached the front door while Blaine and James hid nearby.
Banks, who was also armed, greeted Welborn at the door and
then led him into the kitchen where the two got into an
argument over money. The men walked back to the front door
and, as soon as Banks walked outside, Blaine and James drew
their weapons and started shooting. Banks' roommate, who
was home during the confrontation, ran outside; he found
Banks on the ground covered in blood and saw the shooters
running from the scene. Blaine shot toward the roommate as he
fled, after which the roommate grabbed his 9 mm Ruger and
returned fire. Blaine, James, and Welborn jumped into
Moore's car and the group drove off. During the drive,
Blaine told Moore that "he left a ni**er leaking."
responded to the scene and found Banks lying on the ground,
unresponsive; they recovered two Ruger 9 mm cartridge
casings, seven Makarov 9 mm cartridge casings, one CBD .380
cartridge casing, and one MRP .380 cartridge casing near
Banks' body. Banks' .45 caliber weapon was on the
ground near his body. Officers also located cocaine inside
the home packaged in individual small baggies. An autopsy
revealed that Banks had suffered four gunshot wounds: one to
the face, one to the right shoulder, one to the left chest,
and one to the left abdomen. The gunshot wound to the chest,
which was the wound that caused Banks' death, left soot
on his clothing, suggesting he was shot at close range.
called Landers later that evening and told him that the
robbery "didn't go good," that "people got
shot, and he thinks the person is dead, and [Landers]
need[ed] to stay away from those apartments for a
while." Blaine admitted to Landers that he and James
shot Banks, but only after the victim refused to put his own
robbery of Dhanajay and Bandana Gupta (Counts 1, 11-21)
December 14, 2005, Moore dropped Blaine, Landers, and
Callaway off at Towering Pines Apartments in DeKalb County so
the men could conduct another robbery. The men put on masks,
hid under some stairs, and waited for the Guptas, the married
residents, to return. As soon as the Guptas arrived, Blaine,
Landers, and Callaway forced their way inside the apartment.
They tied the Guptas' hands together, held them at
gunpoint, hit them both over the heads with guns, demanded
money, and ransacked the apartment. At some point, the men
separated the Guptas and continued to hit them. They also
threatened to shoot them and hurt them with knives they had
warmed over the stove in the Guptas' kitchen.
the men took some jewelry and money from the home, they
demanded the Guptas take them to the Citgo gas station down
the street, which the couple owned. The men directed the
Guptas to get into their own van at gunpoint; Blaine got into
the driver's seat and drove everyone to the gas station.
Once there, Mr. Gupta activated the silent alarm, and then
opened the safe in the back of the store. Blaine and Callaway
took money from the safe and ransacked the
store. Moore picked up the men and the victims at
the gas station and drove everyone to an abandoned house
where the group continued to beat the Guptas and threaten
their lives. After some time, the Guptas lay still and
pretended to be unconscious. The group then left the victims
at the house and fled the scene.
Guptas were able to escape and return to the Citgo where they
met the police, who had responded to the silent alarm. Mr.
Gupta was taken to the hospital where he ...