MELTON, CHIEF JUSTICE.
a jury trial, Rico Orlando Walker appeals his convictions for
the murder of Steven Harley and related crimes, contending
that he received ineffective assistance of
counsel. For the reasons set forth below, we
Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the
evidence shows that Tracey Harley, Steven's wife, met
Walker in a Walmart parking lot in 2000 or 2001, exchanged
numbers, and began a years-long affair. Eventually, as the
relationship grew, Tracey and Walker discussed murdering
Steven, though Walker did not tell Tracey the details of what
he was planning in order to "protect" her. In the
month before the murder, Tracey told Walker about
Steven's daily routine and showed Walker where the home
she shared with Steven was located. In addition, Tracey
cashed a $1, 500 check and gave the money to Walker, who was
going to use the cash to hire someone who would help him with
originally planned to murder Steven on Friday, April 21,
2006. That day, Walker parked his truck outside Tracey's
home, raised the truck's hood, and waited for Tracey to
leave to take her child to school. After Tracey left,
however, Walker called her and told her that he could not go
through with the planned murder. After knocking on the door
and telling Steven he was having car trouble, Walker decided
that the murder would have to happen a different
April 24, 2006, Walker told Tracey that he would murder
Steven that day. Walker texted Tracey, "I'm just so
ready, baby. Miss you. Will be over soon, count on it."
That night around 9:00 p.m., Walker and Tracey met at
Walker's cousin's house. Walker got into Tracey's
car with something wrapped in a sweatshirt, and the two of
them drove to Tracey's home. Walker waited inside the car
and instructed Tracey to come and get him after Steven fell
asleep. Around 11:30 p.m., Tracey signaled Walker, who came
inside the house carrying his "bundle." Walker told
Tracey to make sure her two young children stayed in their
room, and then Walker entered the master bedroom where Steven
was sleeping. Tracey waited outside and heard the sounds of
beating. Afterwards, Walker exited the bedroom with an axe
handle. He told Tracey that Steven was "as good as
gone" and that he had slit Steven's throat. Walker
then threw Tracey's jewelry on the floor, took
Steven's wallet, and broke the back window with a hammer
in order to make it seem like there had been a break-in.
Walker told Tracey to "beat herself up," so she
inflicted scratches on herself and cut her pajamas. Walker
then took Steven's truck and left.
minutes later, Tracey called 911 and frantically reported a
home invasion. She said that two men came into the master
bedroom while she and her husband were sleeping, and that one
of the men attacked Steven. When officers arrived, they
observed superficial scratches on Tracey's chest and
noticed that her pajamas were torn. Steven was found lying on
the floor of the bedroom with his throat cut from ear to ear.
He had also been struck in the head three to four times while
he was still in the bed, and he displayed no defensive
wounds. In addition, a knife was found in the bedroom that
matched the knives from the knife block in the kitchen, and,
at the scene, a GBI special agent noticed a card from a
florist shop in Tracey's purse addressed to Tracey from
being questioned by responding officers, Tracey received
several calls from Walker. This prompted a GBI special agent
to contact Walker, who agreed to meet with the agent. At that
meeting, Walker said that he had come to Burke County on
April 24th to buy some lumber. Walker said that he spent time
with his friends, and also with Tracey, with whom he admitted
he was having an affair. Walker said that on the night of
April 24th, he met up with Tracey, they hung out at his
cousin's house, and then she went home. Walker denied
going to neighboring Jenkins County that day and said that he
was not familiar with where Tracey lived in Jenkins County.
He stated that, after Tracey left, he hung out at a
friend's house, and then left around 12:30 to 1:00 a.m.
to head back to his home in Hart County.
to Walker's statements, however, police obtained phone
records and cell-site location information ("CSLI")
that placed Walker in Millen (where the Harleys lived) around
the time Steven was killed. Phone records also showed that,
on the night of the murder, Walker and Tracey talked at 12:07
a.m., Walker called Tracey at 12:26 a.m., and then Tracey
called Walker at 12:51 a.m., just minutes before calling 911.
Tracey also sent Walker a text message while on the phone
with the 911 operator between 12:54 a.m. and 1:07 a.m. Walker
told the police that Tracey seemed completely
"normal" during the 12:51 a.m. phone call to him.
In the ten days leading up to Steven's death, Walker had
over 1, 300 calls and text messages, most of which were to or
from Tracey. Walker was arrested on May 11, 2006, and Tracey
was arrested shortly thereafter. Although Tracey initially
denied knowing anything about the murder, she confessed
following her arrest and described the murder plot in full
detail. She also testified at Walker's trial.
record also shows that, while Walker was in jail awaiting
trial, he became friends with Emory Bell, another inmate. The
two men confided in each other about their respective cases.
Walker told Bell that he had had a sexual relationship with a
school teacher and that he had killed her husband because she
wanted her husband "out of the picture." Walker
told Bell that he had slit the husband's throat and
driven the husband's truck somewhere.
evidence was sufficient to enable the jury to find beyond a
reasonable doubt that Walker was guilty 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)
Walker contends that trial counsel rendered ineffective
assistance by failing to: (a) move to suppress the CSLI used
against him at trial; (b) object to certain evidence and
statements allegedly commenting on his right to remain
silent; and (c) impeach Bell with all of his former
In order to succeed on his claims of ineffective assistance,
[Walker] must prove both that his trial counsel's
performance was deficient and that there is a reasonable
probability that the trial result would have been different
if not for the deficient performance. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d
674) (1984). If an appellant fails to meet his or her burden
of proving either prong of the Strickland test, the
reviewing court does not have to examine the other prong.
Id. at 697 (IV); Fuller v. State, 277 Ga.
505 (3) (591 S.E.2d 782) (2004). In reviewing the trial
court's decision, "'[w]e accept the trial
court's factual findings and credibility determinations
unless clearly erroneous, but we independently apply the
legal principles to the facts.'
[Cit.]" Robinson v. State, 277 Ga. 75, 76 (586
S.E.2d 313) (2003).
Wright v. State, 291 Ga. 869, 870 (2) (734 S.E.2d
876) (2012). Furthermore, "[t]rial tactics and strategy
. . . are almost never adequate grounds for finding trial
counsel ineffective unless they are so patently unreasonable
that no competent attorney would have chosen them."
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) McNair v. State,
296 Ga. 181, 184 (2) (b) (766 S.E.2d 45) (2014).
Walker first contends that trial counsel rendered ineffective
assistance by failing to object to the CSLI used to track his
location at trial. Relying on Carpenter v. United
States, 138 S.Ct. 2206 (201 L.Ed.2d 507) (2018), Walker
argues that trial counsel should have moved to suppress the
CSLI on the basis that it was obtained through a court order
rather than a warrant. Carpenter holds that
individuals maintain a legitimate expectation of privacy in
the record of physical movements captured by CSLI, and,