Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Broxton v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

June 10, 2019

BROXTON
v.
THE STATE. PENA
v.
THE STATE.

          ELLINGTON, JUSTICE.

         Following a jury trial, appellant Joseph D. Broxton was convicted of the malice murder of Edward Chadmon, Oliver Campbell, and Rocqwell Nelson; the aggravated assault of Deion Harden, Falana Coley, and Jordan Turner; criminal attempt to commit armed robbery; and seven counts of violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act (the "Street Gang Act"). Broxton's co-defendant, appellant Daniel Luis Pena, was convicted of the malice murder of Chadmon and Nelson; the aggravated assault of Coley and Turner; criminal attempt to commit armed robbery; and five counts of violation of the Street Gang Act.[1] On appeal, Broxton contends (1) his trial counsel was ineffective and (2) the trial court erred in allowing the written statement of a co-indictee to go back into the jury room. Pena contends (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict on Counts 27-33, and (2) his trial counsel was ineffective. We affirm for the reasons set forth below.

         1. This case concerns multiple crimes committed by Broxton, Pena, and their co-indictees in July 2015. Viewed in a light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented at trial shows the following. Broxton and Pena are members of a criminal street gang known as the "Gangster Disciples," as well as an associated criminal street gang known as the "Hate Committee." On or before July 30, 2015, Hate Committee members received word from their leadership that certain persons had been "green-lit," which meant that they were subject to being beaten or killed. Multiple shootings then occurred on July 30, 2015, including the shootings that resulted in the deaths of Campbell and Nelson. Chadmon was killed in a separate incident on July 3, 2015.

         More specifically, during the early morning of July 3, 2015, approximately 15 armed men, including Broxton, Pena, Rodricous Gresham, Quantavious Hurt, and Karim Ficklin, drove in several cars to the Stone Mountain Inn in DeKalb County for the purpose of committing robbery. Upon arriving, they saw that the police were there, and so they left. Broxton, Pena, Gresham, and Ficklin returned to the Stone Mountain Inn later that morning, and they went to a room where drugs were being sold. Ficklin testified at trial that "Fat," identified by other testimony as Anthony Caldwell, rode with them.

         Chadmon, who was holding a gun, was one of several people in the room. After an argument among those present, Pena and Chadmon began to struggle for possession of Chadmon's weapon. Ficklin saw Caldwell shoot Chadmon in the leg and Pena gain control of Chadmon's gun, after which Ficklin ran out of the room and heard another gunshot. Pena later told Hurt that Caldwell shot Chadmon in the leg, after which Pena grabbed Chadmon's gun and used it to shoot Chadmon. The bullet entered Chadmon's right upper back and severed a large artery under the collar bone, causing his death.

         At approximately 2:00 a.m. on July 30, 2015, Deion Harden was walking home through a DeKalb County apartment complex when a white car pulled up. He was shot five times, after which the car drove off. Harden survived. At trial, Hurt testified that he saw Broxton shoot Harden. Harden denied knowing who shot him, and he denied telling his step-father who shot him. Harden's step-father, however, testified that he had asked Harden who shot him, and Harden answered that it was "Joe." Based on phone records and his independent investigation, a DeKalb County district attorney investigator testified that at 1:55 a.m. on July 30, 2015, Broxton's cell phone was communicating with a cell tower 2.1 miles away from the location where Harden was shot.

         Around 6:30 a.m. on July 30, 2015, a DeKalb County police officer responded to a call of "shots fired" at the Valero gas station on Candler Road. The officer found Campbell in the driver's seat of a pickup truck, slumped over and unresponsive. Campbell's autopsy showed that he had been shot in his left hand, chest, and neck. At trial, Ficklin testified that Broxton never told him that Broxton killed anyone at the Valero, but Ficklin then acknowledged that he previously informed the police that Broxton told him Broxton "shot somebody at the Valero." Hurt testified that Broxton told him that Broxton shot Campbell. The DeKalb County district attorney investigator testified that Broxton's cell phone was communicating with a cell tower located 1.1 miles from the location of the Valero shooting at 6:27 a.m. and 6:29 a.m. on July 30, 2015.

         Also on July 30, 2015, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Coley went to visit her sister at the Windview Apartments on Central Drive in DeKalb County. She saw a dark blue BMW pull up to four men standing around a Camaro. Shortly after the BMW drove out of Coley's line of sight, she heard gunshots. After Coley ran inside, she realized that she had been shot in the thigh.

         At trial, the prosecutor asked Ficklin to tell the jury what happened when Coley got shot. Ficklin said that he, Broxton, Pena, and Hurt were driving in a dark blue BMW when they pulled past a group of people they believed to be members of the Bloods gang. They drove past the group to the back of the apartment complex, turned around, jumped out of the car, and began shooting. Ficklin testified that only he and Hurt got out of the car, but he also acknowledged that he had said previously that it was Broxton, Pena, and Hurt who jumped out of the car and began shooting. Hurt testified that he, Broxton, Pena, and Ficklin had been driving in a BMW on Central Drive "looking for trouble," when they saw individuals associated with the Bloods gang. According to Hurt, they turned around, and Broxton, Pena, and Ficklin got out of the car and shot at the suspected gang members, who "took off running."

         After the Coley shooting, the four men continued to drive around looking, as acknowledged by Ficklin, for "somebody to shoot." They spotted Nelson and Turner standing on a porch at a DeKalb County apartment complex. Broxton and Hurt got out of the car, approached the two, and began firing at close range. Nelson, who died at the scene, was shot in the face and sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, and Turner, who "balled up" on the ground, sustained numerous gunshot wounds to her legs but survived.

         On July 31, 2015, a DeKalb County police officer received an alert concerning a stolen blue BMW. The officer located the BMW at an Economy Inn near I-20. Broxton later acknowledged in a police interview that he had seen the BMW parked at the motel where he had been staying, and he then admitted that he had driven the BMW and that Ficklin was with him at the time. A crime scene investigator found a "Liberty" brand 9-millimeter shell casing on the driver's side floor of the BMW.

         During the course of a manhunt on the evening of July 31, 2015, Broxton was apprehended while riding as a passenger in a friend's car stopped at a Checkers parking lot. A Glock .40-caliber handgun was found under the car's front passenger's seat. The car's driver testified that the Glock did not belong to him.

         Broxton's cell phone was seized during his arrest. The phone contained a record of outgoing text messages stating "they locking me up," and that his "strap," which a detective testified referred to a gun, was under the seat. The phone also contained a record of Internet searches for "breaking news Atlanta shooting," "Candler Road shooting 2015," and "shooting at Valero gas station." On July 31, 2015, the phone had accessed websites referencing "DeKalb police investigate shooting on Candler Road," and "One killed in double shooting in DeKalb County Apartment."

         During trial, the State presented testimony of a GBI firearms and ballistics expert. He testified that the Glock .40-caliber handgun found when Broxton was arrested was a match for shell casings found at the scenes of the Campbell and Coley shootings. He determined that certain other cartridge casings found at the scenes of the Harden, Coley, and Nelson and Turner shootings were fired from the same firearm, which was a weapon consistent with a Glock 9-millimeter pistol. The witness also testified that "Liberty" ammunition is relatively uncommon, and that "Liberty Civil Defense" projectiles were taken from Nelson's body. Liberty shell casings were also located at the scenes of the Coley shooting and the Nelson and Turner shooting.

         During the trial, the State presented evidence of Broxton's and Pena's association with the Gangster Disciples and the Hate Committee. An expert on street gang identification testified that the Gangster Disciples is "one of the most organized gangs in the country," and that the Hate Committee acts as enforcers for the Gangster Disciples. The witness explained that the numbers "360" and "720" have significance to the Gangster Disciples in that they represent "degrees of knowledge" concerning the organization. The six-point star also has meaning for the Gangster Disciples, the witness testified, and may be understood as showing gang membership when worn as jewelry or in the form of a tattoo. Evidence showed that Broxton has multiple tattoos: a "720," with a six-point star in place of the "0," near one ear; "Hate" by the other ear; and several six-point stars on his left forearm. Pena has "Hate" tattooed on his hand.

         Gresham testified that he was a member of the Hate Committee and that some Hate Committee members have the word "Hate" tattooed on their body. Ficklin testified that he was a member of the Gangster Disciples, and that Broxton, Pena, and Gresham have "Hate" tattooed on their bodies, signifying their membership in the Hate Committee. Hurt testified that he, Broxton, and Pena were members of the Gangster Disciples and of the Hate Committee.

         Ficklin testified that, concerning events on the evening of July 30, 2015, "Smurf," identified in other testimony as Ronald Glass, a leader of the Hate Committee and a member of the Gangster Disciples, had told him about "folks getting the green light . . . around Central." According to Ficklin, persons who have gotten the green light are subject to being beaten or killed. Hurt testified that, at the time of the Harden shooting, the area where Harden was located had been "green-lit."[2] Ficklin testified that, in reference to the Coley and the Nelson and Turner shootings, he, Broxton, Pena, and Hurt had been driving around looking to find persons who had been "green-lit," and then shoot them.

         After the presentation of the State's evidence, the trial court informed the jury that the parties had stipulated that both defendants were associates and/or members of the Hate Committee; that the Hate Committee is a criminal street gang; and "that there is a nexus between crimes committed and the furtherance of the interests of the criminal gang." Broxton then testified in his defense. Pena chose not to testify.

         The evidence presented at trial, as summarized above and as further discussed in Division 4, infra, was sufficient to authorize the jury to find Broxton and Pena guilty of the crimes for which they were convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.