MELTON, CHIEF JUSTICE.
a jury trial, David Jackson was found guilty of malice
murder, aggravated assault, and various other offenses in
connection with the stabbing death of John Norman
Thomas. On appeal, Jackson contends that the trial
court committed plain error by giving an incorrect jury
instruction on self-defense, that the trial court erred in
its re-charge to the jury on voluntary manslaughter, and that
his trial counsel was ineffective. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,
the evidence presented at trial reveals that, on December 24,
2013, Jackson stabbed Thomas multiple times with a steak
knife while he was with Thomas in the yard of a home in
Warren County. A neighbor who was across the street from the
stabbing saw Jackson, who seemed to be on his knees, moving
his arm in a stabbing motion towards the ground. The witness
then saw Jackson kick Thomas three or four times while Thomas
was on the ground. The witness observed Jackson throw
something in the bushes and then return to kick Thomas again.
Jackson walked away from Thomas, leaving him dying in the
yard. The neighbor called Jackson's girlfriend, Eula
Evans, and told her to come and get Jackson. The neighbor
then called 911, and she crossed the street, finding Thomas
bleeding heavily in the yard.
officer who responded to the scene attempted to communicate
with Thomas, who was still alive at the time, but Thomas was
unable to speak. Thomas had suffered at least forty-seven
sharp force injuries, including ten stab wounds to his head
and neck and five stab wounds to his torso. Thomas died from
the stab wounds to his neck and torso.
found a black-handled steak knife with blood on it in the
dirt driveway outside of the house where the stabbing had
taken place, and no weapons were found on Thomas. Police also
discovered drops of blood leading away from the scene and
along the route that Jackson had walked after the stabbing.
DNA testing later revealed that the blood drops leading away
from the scene belonged to Jackson, and that two sets of
blood profiles were present on the knife. The major blood
profile on the sharp tip of the knife and the hilt of the
knife where the blade joins the handle belonged to Thomas,
and the only place on the knife where the major blood profile
belonged to Jackson was on the handle.
saw Jackson at the same hospital where Thomas had been taken
after the stabbing, as Jackson was there to be treated for a
laceration to the side of his face, a small wound to his
abdomen, and some abrasions to his head. Jackson later
claimed in an interview with police that Thomas had attacked
and stabbed him, and that Jackson took the knife away from
Thomas before stabbing him two or three times. Jackson also
claimed in his statement that Thomas was still trying to
fight him after Jackson had stabbed Thomas to defend himself
and had walked away from Thomas.
Jackson has not challenged the sufficiency of the evidence in
this case, it is our customary practice to review the
sufficiency of the evidence in murder cases. See, e.g.,
Wainwright v. State, 305 Ga. 63 (1) (823 S.E.2d 749)
(2019). Having done so, we conclude that the evidence
presented at trial was sufficient to authorize a rational
jury to reject Jackson's claim of self-defense and find
him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which
he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979); Cotton v.
State, 297 Ga. 257, 258 (1) (773 S.E.2d 242) (2015)
(despite defendant's claim of self-defense, jury is
"free to accept the evidence that [a] stabbing was not
done in self-defense and to reject any evidence in support of
a justification defense") (citation and punctuation
Jackson contends that the trial court committed plain
errorby giving a pattern jury instruction on
self-defense that included language stating that the
defendant must not have acted "in the spirit of
revenge" at the time that he was defending himself in
order to properly claim self-defense. Compare Code 1933,
§ 26-1012 (stating that party asserting justification
defense must have "acted under the influence of [the]
fears [of a reasonable man], and not in a spirit of
revenge") with OCGA § 16-3-21 (containing no
"spirit of revenge" language and stating that
"a person is justified in using force which is intended
or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or
she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to
prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or
a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible
order to satisfy the test for plain error,
[f]irst, there must be an error or defect - some sort of
deviation from a legal rule - that has not been intentionally
relinquished or abandoned, i.e., affirmatively waived, by the
appellant. Second, the legal error must be clear or obvious,
rather than subject to reasonable dispute. Third, the error
must have affected the appellant's substantial rights,
which in the ordinary case means he must demonstrate that it
affected the outcome of the trial court proceedings. Fourth
and finally, if the above three prongs are satisfied, the
appellate court has the discretion to remedy the
error - discretion which ought to be exercised only if the
error seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public
reputation of judicial proceedings.
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) State v. Kelly,
290 Ga. 29, 33 (2) (a) (718 S.E.2d 232) (2011).
jury instruction must be adjusted to the evidence and embody
a correct, applicable, and complete statement of law."
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Roper v. State,
281 Ga. 878, 880 (2) (644 S.E.2d 120) (2007). Here, there was
no error in giving the jury charge in question, as this Court
has previously determined that, despite the fact OCGA §
16-3-21 does not contain language indicating that a defendant
must show that he or she did not act in the spirit of revenge
in order to assert self-defense,
when comparing the current language of OCGA § 16-3-21
with the previous statute that included the "spirit of
revenge" language . . . "[i]n essence the old law
and the new law have the same standard as to justification of
homicide." Brooks v. State, 227 Ga. 339, 342
(3) (180 S.E.2d 721) (1971). Therefore, the instruction at
issue [that included the "spirit of revenge"
language] is [still] a correct statement of the law.
Pena v. State, 297 Ga. 418, 425 (6) (b) (774 S.E.2d
652) (2015). Because the trial court did not clearly err by
giving the self-defense charge in question, Jackson does not