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Riggs v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

September 9, 2019

RIGGS
v.
THE STATE.

          Boggs, Justice.

         Glenn Vincent Riggs, II was convicted of murder and armed robbery in connection with the 2013 strangulation and beating death of Dr. Charles Mann, III. He appeals, asserting error in the trial court's refusal to allow him to answer a question on re-direct examination or, in the alternative, ineffective assistance of counsel due to failure to preserve that error for appeal. For the reasons below, we affirm.[1]

         Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence shows that Riggs solicited sex online, and Mann responded to one of Riggs' ads on Craigslist. Riggs gave Mann his address and phone number and told him to bring cash, a laptop, and beer to Riggs' home. When Mann arrived, Riggs invited him inside and escorted him to the bedroom. Riggs went to the bathroom while Mann undressed, and when Riggs returned, he told Mann they were not going to have sex and to leave the cash, the laptop, and the beer. Mann turned to leave the room, and Riggs attacked him from behind, put him in a headlock, and choked him until he passed out. Riggs then beat Mann in the head with a 25-pound weight "to make sure that he was gone."

         After going through Mann's pockets, Riggs wrapped Mann's body in bedsheets, placed it in the trunk of Mann's car, and drove the car to a bridge where he dumped Mann's body into the creek below. Riggs then drove Mann's car to another location, wiped it down, and abandoned it on a vacant parcel of land at the end of a partially blocked dirt road or trail. Riggs walked home and tried to clean up the scene, tearing up and replacing parts of the carpet where the murder took place and bleaching other parts to remove Mann's blood. The next day, Riggs called his grandmother, who owned the house where Riggs lived, and enlisted her help in cleaning up the blood, telling her that a terminally ill friend with cancer had hemorrhaged while visiting him.

         When Mann did not show up for work, his supervisor contacted law enforcement. Meanwhile, a concerned citizen noticed the abandoned car and contacted police, who found blood in and around the trunk as well as an index card with directions to Riggs' home and his phone number. When the police went to Riggs' home and questioned him, he denied knowing the victim or anything about the index card. The next day, Riggs messaged a close friend on a social media site, saying, "I'm really gone for a long time. I killed a man . . . and the law onto me . . . ." The friend called the police about the message. Riggs was arrested and confessed to killing Mann, telling investigators where they would find the body. Riggs' recorded statement was played for the jury. At Riggs' home, police found Mann's blood as well as his clothing, watch, and shoes in a trash can behind the house.

         Mann had extensive injuries to his neck and head, including fractured vertebrae, a fractured hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage, petechial hemorrhages indicative of strangulation, and extensive blunt force trauma to the mouth, face, and head, including open wounds, displaced teeth, a fractured jaw, and broken facial bones. The medical examiner attributed the death to strangulation and blunt force head trauma.

         At trial, Riggs testified in his own defense. On direct examination by his counsel, Riggs claimed that he was not interested in having sex with Mann, but pretended that he was in order to lure Mann to his house and rob him. Riggs also testified that Mann said, "We're going to do this whether you like it or not." On cross-examination, Riggs volunteered that he was afraid for his life and that he also was afraid he would be raped. But Riggs also acknowledged that he never told the police investigator who interviewed him that he was afraid for his life or that Mann threatened him, either with the words he testified to on direct examination or otherwise.

         1. Though Riggs has not challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions, it is this Court's practice in murder cases to review the record to determine the legal sufficiency of the evidence. Having done so, we conclude that the evidence summarized above was more than sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Riggs was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

         2. Riggs asserts that the trial court erred in barring his testimony that he was raped at age 11. On cross-examination, after Riggs testified that he was afraid for his life, the prosecutor asked Riggs why he was afraid of Mann, a much older and smaller man: "This man right here, you, 210, five-nine, you're afraid for your life?"

         Riggs responded:

A. I thought he was going to rape me.
Q. You thought he was going to rape you, but you invited him there under the pretense of sex; right?
A. No. I invited him there under the pretense of robbing him.
Q. But you led him to believe that you were going to ...

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