MELTON, CHIEF JUSTICE.
a jury trial, Quindarius Keshun Morton was convicted of
murder and related offenses in connection with the shooting
death of Reginald Bien-Amin. Morton appeals, arguing that the
evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that
the trial court erred in failing to charge the jury on
voluntary manslaughter and erred in admitting certain expert
testimony, and that he was denied effective assistance of
counsel. Finding no error, we affirm.
Morton claims that the evidence was insufficient to support
his convictions because it was based upon the uncorroborated
and "discredited" testimony of two alleged
accomplices - Levi Brockman and Morgan Myers - and further
alleges that the trial court erred by failing to exercise its
discretion to grant a new trial pursuant to the general
grounds set forth in OCGA §§ 5-5-20 and 5-5-21. We
evaluating the sufficiency of evidence, "the relevant
question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact
could have found the essential elements of the crime[s]
beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61
L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).
the evidence in this light, the record shows that, on January
1, 2015, Morton was contacted by his friend, Brockman, in
order to arrange a drug transaction at the Ivy Reserve
Apartments in Gwinnett County. Brockman and his girlfriend,
Myers, picked Morton up in Myers' silver Nissan and then
stopped at a gas station before heading to the apartment
complex. After exiting the car at the gas station, Myers saw
Morton carrying a fish food bottle. When Morton returned to
the car, he sat in the back seat by himself. When the group
arrived at the apartment complex, Myers drove to the back and
parked in a spot near some tennis courts. At this time,
Morton took out a handgun and cocked it "for just in
case." Brockman later told officers that he had known
Morton to carry a 9mm handgun.
two friends, "Kreg" and Bien-Amin, walked from the
apartments toward the car. Myers exited the vehicle and
hugged the two men. She remained outside of the vehicle to
talk to Kreg while Bien-Amin continued toward the car.
Brockman shouted out of the window for Bien-Amin to sit in
the back seat so he could buy drugs from Morton; instead,
Bien-Amin, who was armed, took Myer's place in the
driver's seat. Shortly thereafter, witnesses fled the
scene as they heard gunshots and saw gunpowder smoke coming
from the car.
officers responded, they found Myers' car backed into a
spot in the parking lot; the driver's side door and the
rear passenger door of the car were both ajar. Bien-Amin was
slumped over in the driver's seat; he had a single-action
revolver laying in his lap, he was covered in blood, and he
did not have a pulse. The revolver had six rounds in the
chamber and the hammer was not cocked. Officers processed the
weapon and found no prints on the gun. The medical examiner
later determined that the victim had died from multiple
gunshot wounds to the head and torso, and further noted that
one of the gunshot wounds had evidence of stippling,
indicating that the victim was shot at close range.
their search of the car, officers located, among other
things, several projectiles as well as six 9mm shell casings.
In the rear passenger's side door pocket, officers found
an empty fish food bottle; residue inside the bottle tested
positive for cocaine. A digital scale was located in the
seat-back pocket of the front passenger's seat and a
brown leather gun holster was found on the rear driver's
side seat. Based upon the trajectory of the bullets, the
crime scene investigator concluded that all of the shots had
come from the back seat of the car "from a top down
canvassed the scene and located Brockman and Myers on the
other side of a chain-link fence that surrounded the parking
lot. They were taken to the police department where, at some
point, officers placed the pair together in a room and left
them alone. During this time, Brockman told Myers, "I
don't know why the hell it happened, like why it went
down like it did." He also told Myers that, prior to the
shooting, there was no physical confrontation between himself
and Bien-Amin. Officers returned to the scene the next day
and traced Brockman's flight path. Near the chain-link
fence they discovered a small bag of cocaine and a winter
cap. Officers spoke with Brockman a second time, during which
he identified Morton as the shooter.
his interview with investigators, Morton admitted that he was
in the back seat of the car at the time of the shooting, that
he had drugs in the car, and that, when Bien-Amin entered the
vehicle, Morton did not make himself known to the victim.
Morton testified at trial, however, that he fired his weapon
in self-defense after Bien-Amin pulled a gun and demanded
that "[n]obody move."
to Morton's claim of uncorroborated accomplice testimony,
even if we were to assume that Brockman and Myers were
accomplices to Morton's crimes, their testimony was
sufficiently corroborated by the physical evidence collected
at the crime scene, by Morton's own testimony, and by the
fact that each accomplice corroborated the testimony of the
other. See Yarn v. State, 305 Ga. 421 (2) (826
S.E.2d 1) (2019) (discussing corroboration of accomplice
testimony under the new Evidence Code); Huff v.
State, 300 Ga. 807, 809 (1) (796 S.E.2d 688) (2017)
("The testimony of one accomplice may corroborate that
of another." (Citation omitted)).
Morton's claims that Brockman and Myers were not credible
witnesses, it is well settled that "[t]his Court does
not reweigh evidence or resolve conflicts in testimony;
instead, evidence is reviewed in a light most favorable to
the verdict, with deference to the jury's assessment of
the weight and credibility of the evidence." (Citation
and punctuation omitted.) Hayes v. State, 292 Ga.
506, 506 (739 S.E.2d 313) (2013). "Likewise, the issues
of witness credibility and justification are for the jury to
decide, and the jury is free to reject a defendant's
claim that he acted in self-defense." (Citation and
punctuation omitted.) Shaw v. State, 292 Ga. 871,
872 (1) (742 S.E.2d 707) (2013).
on the foregoing, we conclude that the evidence was
sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to conclude
beyond a reasonable doubt that Morton was guilty of the
crimes for which he was convicted.
also contends that the trial court failed to exercise its
discretion to grant a new trial pursuant to the general
grounds set forth in OCGA §§ 5-5-20 and 5-5-21, and
asserts that this Court should grant a new trial for those
reasons. "A motion for new trial on these grounds,
however, is not properly addressed to this Court as such a
decision is one that is solely within the discretion of the
trial court." (Citation omitted.) Smith v.
State, 300 Ga. 532, 534 (796 S.E.2d 671) (2017). See
also Henderson v. State, 304 Ga. 733 (2) (822 S.E.2d
228) (2018). We further disagree with Morton's claim that
the trial court failed to properly exercise its discretion as
the thirteenth juror. Here, the trial court found that Morton
was not entitled to a new trial on the general grounds,
expressly stating that "[t]he Court has exercised its
jurisdiction to sit as the thirteenth juror and finds that
the weight of the evidence does not preponderate against the
verdict," and that "the verdict was not contrary to
the principles of justice and equity." "The ...