Leonard Abney appeals his convictions for multiple counts of
malice murder and other crimes related to the shooting deaths
of Kiana Marshall, Isaiah Martin, and Alexis
Kitchens. Abney argues that the evidence was
insufficient to convict him of fleeing or attempting to elude
a police officer. He also argues that the trial court erred
in denying his motion for a mistrial when the State elicited
testimony that violated the court's ruling on a motion in
limine and in overruling his objections to improper
bolstering. We affirm because the evidence was sufficient to
support his convictions, and the trial court did not err in
denying his motion for a mistrial or overruling his
in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the trial
evidence showed that in early October 2015, Marshall allowed
Jamaica Bell and Diamond Butler to move in with her in a
house she was renting in Savannah. Things did not go well,
and Marshall complained about Bell and Butler being messy and
inviting guests with guns over to the house. Bell and Butler
failed to pay their promised share of the rent, so on the
morning of October 21, 2015, Marshall asked them to move out.
At some point that day, Martin (Marshall's brother) and
Kitchens (Marshall's friend) went to the house to make
sure Bell and Butler left. Martin told the women to remove
their things from the house or Marshall would call the
police. Butler called James Hampton, who arrived sometime
later with Abney driving a dark grey Honda Accord. Hampton,
Abney, Butler, and Bell left the house in Hampton's car
and made a few stops, including at a convenience store around
11:30 p.m. Butler saw that Hampton and Abney both had
firearms; Hampton had a 9mm handgun and Abney had a .380
handgun. After hearing that Marshall was planning to call the
police if the women did not remove their belongings from the
house that night, Bell and Butler, along with Hampton and
Abney, returned to the house and began to pack their things.
Bell and Butler could not fit all of their belongings into
the trunk of Hampton's car, so they asked Marshall, who
had arrived at the house by this point, if they could come
back later to retrieve the remaining items. Marshall said no.
Hampton, while alone with Butler, asked if she wanted him to
"wet that s**t," meaning shoot up the house, and
Butler said yes. The group left Marshall's house; Butler
thought they were going to return so that she could shoot up
dropped off Bell and Butler at a friend's house where he
had been staying. Butler tried to stay in the car because she
wanted to go shoot at Marshall's house, but Hampton
insisted that she stay at the house. Hampton and Abney then
drove back to Marshall's house, went inside, and shot
Martin, Marshall, and Kitchens. The three victims were shot
multiple times and died from their injuries. Marshall's
neighbors reported hearing multiple gunshots around 12:30
a.m. on October 22, 2015, and one neighbor saw a grey Honda
Accord drive away quickly after the shooting.
and Abney returned to Butler and Bell about 20 minutes after
dropping off the women. Hampton told Butler that he had
"killed all three of them." Abney, Hampton, Butler,
and Bell then smoked marijuana, drank, and listened to music.
Bell and Butler left Abney and Hampton that morning.
met Hampton and Abney later that day. While Hampton drove
around in a brown Ford Explorer, the group discussed the
murders. Hampton again admitted to killing the three victims,
and Abney agreed with Hampton's account of the shooting.
While in the vehicle, Abney had a .380 handgun; Hampton
stated that his 9mm gun was "gone."
had already been looking for Hampton and the brown Ford
Explorer because Hampton had shot at someone else several
weeks earlier while driving the vehicle. When a police
officer saw the Ford Explorer, he turned on his police lights
and sirens to initiate a traffic stop, but Hampton
accelerated. The officer gave chase, and Hampton told Abney
and Butler that they could get out and run. Abney agreed, and
so when Hampton stopped the Explorer, Abney, Hampton, and
Butler fled on foot, running in different directions. The
officer apprehended Abney after a short chase, backtracked
along Abney's flight path, and recovered a .380 handgun.
Hampton was found and arrested the next day.
searching the murder scene, police recovered eight 9mm shell
casings with a "BHA" brand name that were later
determined to have been fired from the same gun, a Hi-Point
9mm pistol. The bullets recovered from the three victims were
consistent with being fired from a Hi-Point 9mm pistol.
During a search of Hampton's residence, police recovered
an empty box of BHA 9mm ammunition. Police also found a photo
on Hampton's cell phone showing him holding a pistol that
could have been a .380 or 9mm Hi-Point.
their arrests, Abney and Hampton separately made
incriminating statements to fellow prisoners. Abney told Eric
Washington that he and Hampton went to a house from which a
woman had been kicked out and drew their guns. Abney claimed
that he never fired his gun and that Hampton killed three
people that were inside the house. Hampton similarly told a
fellow inmate that he killed the three victims by shooting
them with a 9mm Hi-Point pistol. Police also recovered
letters Hampton had sent to Abney while in jail in which
Hampton had made an apparent attempt to align their version
Abney argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain
his conviction for fleeing or attempting to elude a police
officer, because he was merely a passenger in Hampton's
vehicle and there was no evidence that Abney encouraged
Hampton to elude the police officer. We disagree.
to OCGA § 40-6-395 (a), it is "unlawful for any
driver of a vehicle willfully to fail or refuse to bring his
or her vehicle to a stop or otherwise to flee or attempt to
elude a pursuing police vehicle or police officer when given
a visual or an audible signal to bring the vehicle to a
stop[.]" A passenger may be charged and convicted as a
party to the crime if he aided and abetted in the commission
of the crime, or if he intentionally advised or encouraged
the driver to commit the crime. See, e.g., McNeely v.
State, 296 Ga. 422, 424-425 (1) (768 S.E.2d 751) (2015);
Westmoreland v. State, 287 Ga. 688, 693 (4) (b) (699
S.E.2d 13) (2010); see also OCGA § 16-2-20 (b) (3), (4).
Whether a person was a party to a crime can be inferred from
his conduct before, during, and after the commission of the
crime. See Walter v. State, 304 Ga. 760, 766 (3) (b)
(822 S.E.2d 266) (2018).
the evidence showed that Abney fled on foot after Hampton led
the police on a chase and stopped the Ford Explorer. Abney
concedes this on appeal, but argues that this does not show
that he acted in concert with Hampton as Hampton attempted to
elude the police. In support of his argument, Abney relies on
Carter v. State, 249 Ga.App. 354 (548 S.E.2d 102)
(2001), but that case does not apply. In Carter, the
Court of Appeals reversed a conviction for fleeing from the
police because there was no evidence that the defendant
"did anything other than occupy the passenger seat"
of a vehicle while his accomplice in the crime of hijacking
engaged in a high-speed chase with police. Id. at
357 (5). But the Court of Appeals reached this conclusion in
Carter in part because there was no evidence that
the defendant fled on foot after the vehicle stopped.
Id. Here, there is such evidence. From this
evidence, along with evidence that Hampton and Abney worked
in concert to kill the three victims and Abney's
affirmative response to Hampton's suggestion during the
police chase that Abney get out and run, the jury was
authorized to conclude that Abney was a party to the crime of
fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. See
Westmoreland, 287 Ga. at 693 (4) (b); Sapp v.
State, 337 Ga.App. 14, 15-16 (785 S.E.2d 654) (2016).
Abney does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence as
to the other crimes of which he was convicted, we have
independently reviewed the record and conclude that the trial
evidence was legally sufficient to authorize a rational trier
of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty
of the crimes for which he was convicted. See Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d
Abney argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion
for a mistrial in response to a witness's testimony that
allegedly violated the court's ruling on a motion ...