Collett appeals his convictions for malice murder and
concealing the death of another in connection with the 2012
death of nine-year-old Skylar Dials. Collett challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence to support these convictions and
argues that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the
jury on the lesser-included offense of reckless conduct or on
mistake of fact. We affirm because the evidence was
sufficient and the instructions were unwarranted.
in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence at
trial shows that Dials lived with her guardians, Renas and
Robert Lupas, and their family in Spalding County. On the
morning of December 21, 2012, Dials left her home to play
with her friend C.P., who lived next door with her family and
Dials failed to return by 3:00 p.m., Ms. Lupas became
concerned and went over to C.P.'s house. Collett answered
the door and told them that Dials was not there. C.P. and her
mother said Dials never came to the house. The Lupases and
neighbors began searching for Dials and calling out her name.
Collett pretended to help but never went near the brush piles
behind the house where Dials's body was later found.
Failing to find her, Ms. Lupas called the police, who
conducted an extensive search for Dials.
the course of the search, the police interviewed Collett
several times; each time he denied ever seeing Dials but
changed the particulars of his story. During these
interactions Collett made little to no eye contact with
investigators and expressed no emotion. He also peered
through the back window of his house while police searched
2:00 a.m on December 22, 2012, the police found Dials's
body in a brush pile behind her home. Her sweater was torn
and pulled up near her head. She had scratch marks and
bruising on her face and neck. Police recovered Dials's
clothes, and examiners later identified multiple fibers from
Collett's room on Dials's sweater, including a clump
of fibers from the blanket on his bed. Examiners determined
that this concentration of fibers would not have appeared by
mere accident or momentary transfer, but required prolonged
contact. There was also no evidence that Dials had been moved
after having been placed in the brush pile.
finding Dials's body, the police questioned Collett once
more, and he changed his story yet again. After being advised
of his rights, Collett said that Dials had come to the house
while he was asleep and that she surprised him, causing him
to jump up and knock her to the floor, rendering her
unconscious. He claimed that he then moved her from the
bedroom to the brush pile. He claimed that she was still
breathing at the time and that she was not in the pile when
he went to check on her later.
medical examiner found that the injury to Dials's head
was not severe enough to have caused unconsciousness. Based
on the marks on her neck, bleeding under the skin around her
eyes, and swelling of her brain, the medical examiner
determined that Dials's cause of death was asphyxiation
resulting from prolonged neck compression. The medical
examiner opined that it would have taken several minutes for
Dials to reach unconsciousness and then die. He did not
believe the trauma could have been accidental.
Collett challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to convict
him of malice murder and concealing the death of another in
connection with the death of Dials. We disagree.
cases like this one where convictions are based on
circumstantial evidence, the evidence must be
"consistent with the hypothesis of guilt" and
"exclude every other reasonable hypothesis save that of
the guilt of the accused." OCGA § 24-14-6. Not
every hypothesis is reasonable, and the reasonableness of
alternative hypotheses raised by a defendant is a question
principally for the jury. Akhimie v. State, 297 Ga.
801, 804 (1) (777 S.E.2d 683) (2015). Where the jury is
authorized to find the evidence sufficient to exclude every
reasonable hypothesis save that of the accused's guilt,
"this Court will not disturb that finding unless it is
insupportable as a matter of law." Id. When
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, this Court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict.
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (99 S.Ct.
2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
argues that he did not know that Dials was dead when he
placed her body in the brush pile and that the State failed
to prove (1) that doing so was an act known to cause a
substantial certainty of death, (2) that he desired to cause
her death, or (3) the exact scene or manner of death.
evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts
indicates that Collett compressed Dials's neck for an
extended period of time in his room until she asphyxiated.
The evidence also indicates that Collett carried her out of
the house, placed her body face up in a brush pile, feigned
participation in the initial search party, and (despite
repeated interviews with the police) failed to inform the
police as to Dials's location. Given these facts, a
rational trier of fact could have excluded every other
reasonable hypothesis and found beyond a reasonable doubt
that Collett murdered Dials and concealed her death.
Collett argues that the trial court erred when it failed to
instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of reckless
conduct or on mistake of fact as he requested with respect to
the murder and child cruelty charges. We disagree.
requested jury charge must be "legal, apt, and precisely
adjusted to some principle involved in the case and be
authorized by the evidence." Stokes v. State,
281 Ga. 875, 877-878 (3) (644 S.E.2d 116) (2007). Although it
is error to deny a jury charge that is warranted by the
evidence, there is no error in refusing to give a charge ...