P. J., COOMER and MARKLE, JJ.
Glenn Seals appeals from the denial of his motion for new
trial following his conviction for aggravated assault,
burglary, stalking, possession of a firearm during the
commission of a crime, and criminal damage to property. On
appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of
trial counsel due to counsel's failure to object to (a)
evidence of his prior difficulties with the victim, and (b)
the admission of text messages. For the reasons that follow,
the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict,
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61
L.Ed.2d 560) (1979), the record shows that the victim, C. L.,
and Seals had been dating on and off since 2002 or 2003. In
2004, they were living together in Alabama, but were arguing
frequently, and when C. L. told Seals that she was leaving
him, he slapped her and she threw a vase at him. Despite his
temper, C. L. continued the relationship with Seals. In early
2005, Seals tried to attack C. L. when she went to a night
club with a friend. When C. L. went back to her apartment
that night, she discovered that Seals had broken into her
home and taken her dog. Because C. L. was frightened of
Seals, she called the police and they escorted her to the
highway so she could leave. However, Seals followed her and
forced her car to the side of the road. C. L. then got into
Seals's car and went home with him. Again, C. L.
continued her relationship with Seals, including engaging in
consensual sexual contact. In September 2005, Seals visited
C. L. uninvited at her workplace, and C. L. called the
police. That night, C. L. went to a battered woman's
shelter and then drove to Atlanta.
she moved to Georgia, C. L. did not tell Seals where she was
living or working, and did not invite Seals to her apartment,
but she continued to speak with him by phone. That November,
C. L. received a text message from Seals's phone number
with a picture of the house she had stayed in when she first
came to Atlanta. A few weeks later, she received another text
threatening her after Seals's car was repossessed. The
text message came from the phone number C. L. identified as
Seals, and read, "I sure hope this $500 was worth what
you're about to get done to you," and "Bitch,
I'll get you. I'll never forget this shit." C.
L. contacted police, but continued to communicate with Seals.
She saw Seals again in December 2005 and in January 2006,
staying with him during a trip to Alabama. C. L. admitted
that she and Seals were intimate, but she stated that she did
not want to reestablish a romantic relationship with him.
night of February 18, 2006, C. L. went to a club with
friends. While she was there, Seals called her, but C. L.
told him she could not hear him and would call him later.
However, C. L.'s phone died and she was not able to call
Seals back. The following morning, C. L. was at home with a
former boyfriend, F. S., when she heard someone knock at her
apartment door. Immediately thereafter, Seals kicked the door
in, entered the apartment, and started shooting. C. L. ran
into her bedroom and hid on the floor by her bed. F. S.
grabbed his rifle and starting shooting at Seals, but his gun
jammed after the first shot. F. S. was shot in the leg and
Seals was shot in the torso and arm. C. L. called 911 as
Seals fled the apartment. Seals called C. L. later that
evening, said he was not trying to hurt her and asked if F.
S. was dead.
this incident, Seals was indicted on two counts of burglary;
two counts of aggravated assault; criminal damage to
property; two counts of possession of a firearm during
commission of a crime; and two counts of stalking. Prior to
trial, the State filed notice of its intent to introduce
Seals's prior convictions and other crimes, and to seek
recidivist sentencing. Although defense counsel initially
reserved his objection to evidence of prior difficulties
between the parties, at the beginning of trial, counsel
stated there was no objection to such testimony.
testified in his own defense, stating that he and C. L. were
in a relationship, and that he went to C. L.'s apartment
that night because he was worried when she did not call him
back. He admitted that he was angry and had kicked the door
in, but he claimed he did not start shooting until F. S.
fired at him. Although he denied that he had ever threatened
C. L., he admitted sending the text messages. During defense
counsel's cross-examination of C. L., counsel asked about
inconsistencies in her testimony regarding her relationship
with Seals and what she told police the day of the shooting.
jury convicted Seals on all counts. Seals filed a motion for
new trial and an amended motion, arguing, as is relevant to
this appeal, that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to
object to (a) evidence of prior difficulties between Seals
and the victim, and (b) testimony regarding threatening text
messages Seals allegedly sent to the victim. The trial court
denied the motion for new trial, as amended. Seals now
appeals, raising two claims of ineffective assistance of
To succeed on a claim that counsel was constitutionally
ineffective, [Seals] must show both that his attorney's
performance was deficient, and that he was prejudiced as a
result. Under the first prong of this test, counsel's
performance will be found deficient only if it was
objectively unreasonable under the circumstances and in light
of prevailing professional norms. And under the second prong,
prejudice is demonstrated only where there is a reasonable
probability that, absent counsel's errors, the result of
the trial would have been different. A "reasonable
probability" is defined as a probability sufficient to
undermine confidence in the outcome. Failure to satisfy
either prong of the . . . test is sufficient to defeat a
claim of ineffective assistance, and it is not incumbent upon
this Court to examine the other prong. And although both the
performance and prejudice components of an ineffectiveness
inquiry involve mixed questions of law and fact, a trial
court's factual findings made in the course of deciding
an ineffective assistance of counsel claim will be affirmed
by the reviewing court unless clearly erroneous. (Citation
and punctuation omitted.) Green v. State, 302 Ga.
816, 817-818 (2) (809 S.E.2d 738) (2018). Before turning to
Seals's claims of error, we note that the trial in this
case occurred in 2007, and thus the prior version of our
Evidence Code applies. See Arbegast v. State, 332
Ga.App. 414, 416 (2) (a) (773 S.E.2d 283) (2015).
his first enumeration of error, Seals argues that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel's
failure to object to the admission of evidence of prior
difficulties, and the evidence was inadmissible because the
trial court failed to conduct the required analysis before
allowing the evidence. We disagree.
[P]rior difficulties between the parties are not independent
acts or occurrences, but are connected acts or occurrences
arising from the relationship between the same people
involved in the prosecution and are related and connected by
such nexus. Evidence of a defendant's prior act toward
the same victim, whether an assault, a quarrel, or a threat,
is admissible as evidence of the relationship between the
victim and the defendant and may show the defendant's
motive, intent, and bent of mind in committing the act
against the victim which results in the charges for which the
defendant is being prosecuted.
(Citation omitted.) Appling v. State, 246 Ga.App.
556 (541 S.E.2d 129) (2000). "Evidence of prior
difficulties between the parties is admissible if there is a
'logical, probative connection' between the
difficulties and the crimes charged." (Citation
omitted.) Cunningham v. State, 243 Ga.App. 770, 771
(1) (533 S.E.2d 735) (2000); see also Wall v. State,
269 Ga. 506, 508-509 (2) (500 S.E.2d 904) (1998). Where the
defendant claims self-defense, evidence of prior difficulties
is relevant and admissible. Spearman v. State, 267
Ga. 600, 601 (2) (481 S.E.2d 814) (1997).
the victim testified to the contentious nature of her
relationship with Seals and prior threats he had made. In his
own testimony, Seals admitted that the two fought, and that
he sent the messages. He further claimed that he fired his
gun in self defense. Thus, the testimony about the prior
difficulties between C. L. and Seals was relevant to show
Seals's motive, intent, and bent of mind.Spearman, 267 Ga. at 601 (2); Appling, 246
Ga.App. at 556. Therefore, the evidence was admissible, and
trial counsel's failure to object to it was not deficient
performance. Notably, counsel did not testify at the hearing
on the motion for new trial as to his failure to ...