Irwin County jury found appellant Terry Joe Cain guilty of
malice murder and other crimes in connection with the
shooting death of Matthew Mobley and the assault of Gregory
Johnson. He appeals, arguing that the trial court
erred in denying his motion for directed verdict, finding
that his pretrial statement to law enforcement was
voluntarily given, and denying his motion for mistrial. Upon
consideration, we conclude that these claims are meritless.
However, because the trial court erred in sentencing Cain, we
remand this case for resentencing.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,
the evidence presented at trial showed the following.
Jennifer Johnson, Cain's sister, was married to but
estranged from Gregory Johnson, with whom she had two
children. Shortly before Thanksgiving 2010, Jennifer dropped
the couple's daughter off at Gregory's house. Gregory
noticed the child had problems sitting down, and, upon
inspection, he discovered she had severe diaper rash and
"a hole on her butt cheek the size of a nickel."
Gregory reported Jennifer to DFCS, resulting in animosity
between the couple and between Gregory and Cain.
December 20, 2010, Cain went to the house at which Gregory
was staying. Gregory was sitting on the porch with his
brothers, including Mobley. When Cain drove up to the house
in his white Pontiac LeMans, he exited his car and asked
Gregory, "You going to give me my
one?" Cain and Gregory then engaged in a
physical altercation during which Gregory struck Cain twice
on the side of his face. After being hit, Cain got into his
car and left the scene.
then traveled to his home and retrieved his father's
pistol. Cain also called his friend, Rondell Montgomery,
asked Montgomery to accompany him back to Gregory's house
"to do a one-on-one fight with a dude to be sure nobody
jumped in." Cain then returned to Gregory's home in
the white Pontiac with Montgomery as his passenger; his
mother, Alicia Harper, and his sister Jennifer followed in
Harper's blue Buick. When Harper's car reached
Gregory's house, Jennifer, riding in the passenger seat,
leaned out the window and began arguing with Gregory, who
followed the car on foot as it drove past. As Gregory was
still walking down the street near his house, Cain pulled up
in his car, stuck a pistol out the window, and shot once at
Gregory. Although he was not shot, Gregory,
believing he had been hit, slumped over in the road. Gregory
was not armed.
brothers remained on the front porch of his house during this
time. When they heard a gunshot, Mobley and a third brother,
Eddie Stanley, got in Mobley's truck and began driving.
Mobley stopped at a stop sign close to the house, and, when
he saw Harper's car, he got out of his truck and began
chasing Harper's car on foot. Cain then drove up in his
car, and Mobley, seeing Cain, turned around and ran toward
Cain's window. Cain fired one shot at Mobley, hitting
him. Mobley was unarmed.
was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his right
shoulder area, which ultimately proved fatal. The medical
examiner testified that the bullet entered Mobley's right
arm and traveled through his chest lacerating both lungs. The
medical examiner recovered the bullet from the muscle between
Mobley's ribs. The medical examiner was unable to
determine the range of fire due to the lack of stippling and
trial, Doug Douglas, a detective with the Ocilla Police
Department, testified that he recovered a .380 semi-automatic
handgun that was buried in a flower pot at Harper's
house. A firearms examiner testified that the
evidence was consistent with the bullet recovered from
Mobley's torso having been fired from the gun recovered
from Harper's house.
testified in his own defense at trial, contending that he
acted in defense of himself and in defense of his mother,
sister, and his sister's children. According to Cain,
Gregory began threatening Cain and his sister Jennifer with
physical harm in the months leading up to the
incident. Cain testified that, earlier on the day of
the shooting, Gregory and Mobley forced Cain's car off
the road and then approached Cain's car and began
punching him through his car window. According to Cain, this
incident caused him to fear for his life, so he went to his
parents' house and took his father's handgun. Cain
claimed that he drove to Gregory's house when Jennifer
called him screaming that Gregory was chasing her, Harper,
and Jennifer's children. Cain also claimed that, when he
shot Mobley, Mobley had his left fist drawn back ready to hit
conclusion of the State's case, Cain moved for a directed
verdict on the ground that the State had failed to disprove
his claim of self-defense. The trial court denied this
motion, which Cain asserts was error. According to Cain,
sufficient evidence to establish his defense of self-defense
was presented during the State's case-in-chief.
Consequently, Cain argues, the State bore the burden of
disproving, before the close of its case, the absence of
self-defense, which the State failed to do.
addressed and rejected this same argument in Murray
v. State, 295 Ga. 289, 290-291 (1) (759 S.E.2d
525) (2014). There, we explained that
an appellate court, when reviewing a trial court's ruling
on a motion for directed verdict in a criminal case, is not
confined to a review of the evidence at the close of the
[S]tate's case. The entire evidence is to be examined,
and so long as all the evidence justifies the conviction
under the appropriate standard, no error is shown by the
denial of the motion for directed verdict.
(Citation omitted.) Id.
the evidence recounted above in the light most favorable to
the jury's verdict, we conclude that the evidence was
sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find Cain guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes of which he was
convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307,
319 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). And because
decisions of witness credibility and questions of
justification are reserved for the jury, the jury was free to
reject Cain's claim that he acted in self-defense or
defense of others. See Roper v. State281 Ga. 878,
880 (1) (644 S.E.2d 120) (2007). Accordingly, the trial court
did not err in denying Cain's motion for directed
verdict. See Smith v. State, 304 Ga. 752, 754 (822
S.E.2d 220) (2018) ("The standard of ...