Chapman ("Appellant") was convicted of malice
murder, aggravated battery, and other crimes in connection
with the June 25, 2015 shooting of Rosalyn Chapman and Odetta
Hampton.He contends that his convictions should be
reversed because the trial court plainly erred in providing
an incomplete instruction on how the jury was to consider
evidence of his good character. For the following reasons, we
in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence at
trial showed the following. On June 25, 2015, Chapman and
Hampton were with Appellant in his home, drinking beer and
smoking crack cocaine. According to Hampton, at some point
during the night, Appellant tried to grope Chapman's
breast. When Chapman resisted, he produced a handgun and
fired it at her several times as she fled the room. When
Hampton implored Appellant to stop, he shot her. Appellant
stood over Hampton, cursing, and said: "I told you I
didn't want to do this." And then he assaulted
Hampton by striking her in the head with the gun. Appellant
put the gun in a drawer and started cleaning up. Hampton
repeatedly begged Appellant for help. Eventually, her pleas
"seemed to have snapped him out" of his rage and he
called the police.
the police arrived, they encountered Appellant outside his
residence. They discovered Chapman inside, lying dead on the
floor near the bedroom. The police found Hampton on the
bedroom floor, bleeding from her injuries. When the police
asked her if she knew who had shot them, she looked at
Appellant and said: "He did." When asked what
precipitated the shooting, Hampton said: "Crack."
The police recovered Appellant's handgun, which contained
four spent shell casings.
testified that her gunshot wounds left her with permanent
neurological injury. The medical examiner testified that
Chapman died from multiple gunshot wounds that shattered her
spine and severely damaged her spinal cord, fatally impairing
her ability to breathe.
testified that, on the night of the shooting, Chapman became
enraged and attacked him because she thought he had taken her
crack cocaine. Appellant believed that a third, unknown
person was with the women. He contended that, during the
attack, the lights went out and he fired his weapon in
self-defense in the general direction of the "perceived
threat" and that he only struck the women by accident.
He testified that he could not imagine himself intentionally
hurting either woman. In support of his defense, he offered
evidence of his character trait for peacefulness.
Chapman does not dispute the legal sufficiency of the
evidence supporting his convictions. Nevertheless, as is this
Court's practice in murder cases, we have reviewed the
record and conclude that, when viewed in the light most
favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented at trial
and summarized above was sufficient to authorize a rational
jury to find Chapman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the
crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61
L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). See also Vega v. State, 285 Ga.
32, 33 (1) (673 S.E.2d 223) (2009) ("It was for the jury
to determine the credibility of the witnesses and to resolve
any conflicts or inconsistencies in the evidence."
(citation and punctuation omitted)).
Appellant argues that the trial court erred in failing to
inform the jury sua sponte that, in Georgia, "[g]ood
character is a substantive fact at trial, and can by itself
create a reasonable doubt as to a defendant's guilt and
lead to an acquittal." Sapp v. State, 271 Ga.
446, 449 (3) (520 S.E.2d 462) (1999). See also State v.
Hobbs, 288 Ga. 551, 552 (705 S.E.2d 147) (2010)
("[W]hen instructing on good character, the trial court
is expected to tell the jury that good character is a
substantive fact which may create reasonable doubt leading to
an acquittal." (citations omitted)). Absent an
instruction using this specific language from our case law,
Appellant contends, the instruction is incomplete and
constitutes plain error.
§ 17-8-58 (b) permits limited review for plain error
when a defendant fails to object to jury instructions. Plain
error review has a four-part analysis:
First, 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. Satisfying all four
prongs of this standard is difficult, as it should be.
(Citations omitted.) Walker v. State, 301 Ga. 482,
485 (2) (801 S.E.2d 804) (2017). In this case, however, even
if the charge had been so inadequate that giving it
constituted clear error, reversal is not required because the
error was invited by Appellant's counsel.
record shows that Appellant's counsel requested in
writing that the pattern jury instruction concerning a
defendant's good character and character trait for
peacefulness be given. During the charge conference, the
court reviewed the written request to charge and asked
defense counsel whether the charge contained "the
character trait and the wording" she wanted, and counsel
responded in the affirmative. Further, she voiced no
objection to the final charge. The trial transcript shows
that the court gave the requested charge verbatim:
Now, ladies and gentlemen, you have heard evidence of the
character of the Defendant for a particular trait, more
specifically his character for peacefulness, in an effort to
show that the Defendant likely acted in keeping with such
character or trait at pertinent times or with reference to
issues in this case. This evidence has been offered in the
form of opinion of other witnesses and reputation. You should
consider any such evidence along with all the other evidence
in deciding whether or not you have a reasonable doubt about
the guilt of the Defendant.
Good character, ladies and gentlemen, is not just a witness
credibility issue, nor is it an excuse for crime. However,
you may consider it as weighing on the issue of whether or
not the ...