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Earwood v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Second Division

April 30, 2019


          MILLER, P. J., RICKMAN and REESE, JJ.

          RICKMAN, JUDGE.

         Following a jury trial, Patrick Edward Earwood, a police officer, was convicted of several felonies based upon his predatory criminal conduct while on duty. He filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court denied.[1] Earwood appeals the judgment of conviction and the trial court's subsequent denial of his motion for new trial. Specifically, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial after a State witness referenced bad character evidence that he contends had been excluded pursuant to a motion in limine, and further erred in preventing him from refreshing a witness's recollection with a report written by a third party. We find no error and affirm.

On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to support the jury's verdict, and the defendant no longer enjoys a presumption of innocence. We do not weigh the evidence or judge the credibility of the witnesses, but determine only whether the evidence authorized the jury to find the defendant guilty of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt in accordance with the standard set forth in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

Laster v. State, 340 Ga.App. 96, 97 (796 S.E.2d 484) (2017).

         So construed, the evidence adduced at trial showed that in May 2012, Earwood was sworn in as a police officer and began working part-time for the Cave Spring Police Department (the "Department"). The Department was small and was made up of mostly part-time officers, although it employed three full-time officers. A single officer was assigned to work any given 12-hour shift, and that officer generally drove the newer of the two police vehicles owned by the Department. In mid-2013, Earwood became one of the three full-time officers.

         In June 2013, an investigator with the Floyd County Police Department was given information that a child had alleged inappropriate conduct against an officer within the Department and she began to investigate. During the ensuing investigation, the investigator discovered several young women who made allegations of misconduct against Earwood:

         (a) B. B., who was between 14 and 15 years old at the time, alleged that during the summer of 2012, she was in Cave Spring living with a friend after finishing her ninth grade school year. At approximately 9:00 p.m. one summer evening, B. B. was in the park getting some water while walking to a nearby friend's house. Earwood drove by B. B. in his patrol car before circling back around and inquiring what she was doing in the park. He then demanded that she give him oral sex and threatened that he would arrest her mother for neglect if she refused to do so. B. B. complied with Earwood's demand as he stood outside of the patrol car.

         B. B. also reported that on several occasions, Earwood drove her and her friends around in his patrol car late at night after curfew, taking them swimming or allowing them into otherwise closed government buildings to go "ghost hunting." On one such occasion, B. B. and her friend, M. R., were walking to M. R.'s boyfriend's house when Earwood passed in his patrol car and picked them up. Earwood let the girls into City Hall to "ghost hunt[ ]" and then allowed them to climb over the fence into the closed public pool to swim. After encouraging the girls to swim naked, which they declined to do, Earwood shined a flashlight on them as they changed. He then left the girls, who proceeded to walk to M. R.'s boyfriend's house. At some point, the girls got into an argument and B. B. left. While walking home alone, Earwood again stopped B. B., who asked him to retrieve M. R. from her boyfriend's house. Earwood agreed on the condition that B. B. "flash" him.

         (b) M. R., who was between 15 and 16 years old at the time, confirmed the events above and explained that after "ghost hunting" and swimming with B. B., Earwood did indeed retrieve her from her boyfriend's house, telling her that she "needed to go with him because he's a cop." M. R. originally sat in the back of the patrol car, but Earwood stopped the vehicle and removed his belongings from the front seat so that M. R. would join him there. While doing so, Earwood asked M. R. to pull up her shirt, but she refused. He thereafter drove M. R. to numerous isolated locations, including the cemetery, where he turned off all the lights and told her it "would be more fun if [she] would be willing to do stuff." He then took her to a deadend road and asked her to "do it on the hood" of the patrol car. After M. R. shook her head "no," Earwood began rubbing her upper thigh and attempted to put his hand down her pants, but she pushed his hand away. He also squeezed her breast and attempted to put his hand under her shirt, but she again pushed his hand away. Before departing, Earwood asked if she would "lean down and do anything to him." M. R. indicated that she would not and seeking a distraction, began calling and texting her boyfriend.

         M. R. eventually told Earwood that she needed to use the restroom, and that her blood sugar was low and she needed food. He took her to City Hall and before going inside, M. R. called her father and let him know she was with Earwood; the two men also spoke. As M. R. finished using the bathroom and began pulling up her pants, Earwood appeared and told her "you can pull [those] back down." M. R. nervously laughed it off, and Earwood took her to a gas station to buy a candy bar before he again drove them to the dead-end road. M. R. informed Earwood that B. B. was texting her and eager for her to return, and Earwood responded that she "would [have been] a whole lot more fun if [she] would have stayed . . . off the phone." Earwood eventually returned M. R. to her boyfriend's house where B. B. was waiting, after confirming that she would not "tell anybody . . . anything about tonight."

         M. R., B. B., and M. R.'s boyfriend discussed the events that night between the three of them, but no one reported Earwood's conduct until June 2013, when M. R. disclosed it to a friend whose father was also an officer within the Department. It was M. R.'s outcry and the subsequent reporting of that outcry to her friend's law enforcement father that prompted the investigation in this case.

         (c) A. G. was another of Earwood's victims. In May 2013, A. G., who was not from Cave Spring, drove there with a friend. She was under the influence of prescription drugs and methamphetamine when she and her friend got into an argument outside of an apartment complex, and her friend drove away and left her there. Knowing nobody in the city, A. G. began walking up the road when she was stopped by an off-duty police officer who had witnessed the events. The officer instructed A. G. to wait for a uniformed officer to arrive, and although she initially attempted to resist the officer's request, she ultimately relented.

         Earwood arrived in a marked police vehicle and the off-duty officer left. After obtaining A. G.'s preliminary information, Earwood requested and obtained consent to search her person, at which time he found narcotics in her pocket. At no point, however, did Earwood use his radio or formally arrest A. G. Rather, he drove her to the police station while repeatedly asking, "[W]ell, what are we gong to do about this?" After what A. G. perceived to be an extensive amount of time, she and Earwood were still sitting in the police station, alone, while he made small talk and ignored her repeated inquiries as to whether he was going to arrest her. Finally, A. G. called her mother to ask for money, assuming that Earwood was seeking payment to let her go.

         Ultimately, Earwood demanded oral sex in exchange for releasing A. G. She agreed, on the condition that he drive her to meet her mother when she was finished. Earwood drove to a remote dirt rode and stood beside his vehicle as A. G. performed oral sex on him. He then took A. G. to a store located in a different city, where her parents had been waiting for ...

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