Keith Scott appeals from his convictions for felony murder
and cruelty to children in the second degree in connection
with the death of his three-month-old son, Corduray Scott
Scott challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support
his convictions and also argues that the trial court erred in
admitting statements he gave during his second interview with
law enforcement because, although he was properly advised of
and waived his Miranda rights before his first
interview, he was not reminded of his rights prior to the
start of the second interview. We affirm Scott's
convictions because the evidence was sufficient to support
them and there was no Miranda violation.
in the light most favorable to the jury's verdicts, the
trial evidence showed that the victim was born to Scott and
Shakeila Jones on September 27, 2009. The couple lived
together in an apartment and also had a daughter. The couple
alternated taking care of the victim.
early morning hours of January 18, 2010, Jones changed the
victim's diaper and put the victim in a swing, where the
infant sometimes slept. The victim appeared normal and
nothing unusual happened earlier that day. Jones went to
sleep for a few hours, and Scott was responsible for watching
the victim during this time.
Jones woke up later that day, she checked on the victim and
noticed that he was unresponsive, his feet were shaking, his
arms were stiff, and his eyelids were half-closed. Jones
first called a nurse hotline and then 911. Jones accompanied
the victim to the hospital, while Scott remained at home with
the couple's other child.
the victim arrived at the hospital, he was lethargic,
experiencing seizures, and having trouble breathing. Dr.
Renuka Mehta, a pediatric expert, treated the victim at the
hospital. Dr. Mehta observed bruising on the victim's
body and, based on his symptoms, believed that the victim had
bleeding in his brain. A CT scan confirmed the doctor's
suspicions. The victim also presented with severe retinal
hemorrhaging, which Dr. Mehta explained was indicative of
severe acceleration and deceleration of the victim's
head. The victim stopped breathing because of substantial
swelling in his brain and was pronounced clinically brain
dead within hours of arrival. He was placed on a ventilator
for three days before being taken off life support. In her
examination of the victim, Dr. Mehta did not observe any
congenital or birth defects that would have caused or
contributed to his injuries.
medical examiner who performed the autopsy observed blunt
force trauma that caused bruising under the scalp and a small
fracture of the skull, and significant hemorrhaging in the
eyes and some hemorrhaging in the victim's neck that were
consistent with violent shaking. The medical examiner
determined that the victim's cause of death was blunt
force trauma to the head and violent shaking. The medical
examiner opined that the victim's fatal head injuries
occurred mere hours before his admission to the hospital,
because the severity of the victim's injuries would have
caused the seizures to begin within hours, and the victim
began seizing soon after his admission to the hospital.
medical examiner also observed older injuries to the victim,
including: nine rib fractures at different stages of healing
that were consistent with a very forceful squeezing of the
victim's chest; a laceration to the liver that could only
be caused by a forceful impact to the abdomen; and old
bleeding in the lungs indicative of instances of asphyxia.
The medical examiner closely examined the victim's bones
and found no evidence of rickets or Vitamin D deficiency that
could have explained why the victim had so many bone
fractures. The medical examiner, Dr. Mehta, and another
pediatrician specializing in child abuse all opined that the
victim's injuries were intentionally inflicted and
briefly spoke to Jones at the hospital and later brought
Jones and Scott into the police station for questioning on
January 18, 2010. An investigator read Scott his
Miranda rights at the beginning of the interview,
and Scott agreed to answer questions after waiving his
rights. During the interview, Scott exhibited odd behavior by
smiling and laughing and displayed no emotion when told that
his child might be dead. Scott claimed that the victim was
injured when the swing broke and the baby fell from it.
investigator re-interviewed Scott the next day after the
investigator talked to the hospital doctors and learned the
full extent of the victim's injuries, including evidence
of chronic abuse. Before beginning the interview, the
investigator reminded Scott of his Miranda rights,
although he testified that he did not go back over them in
detail, and Scott confirmed that he understood his rights.
During the second interview, which was video recorded, Scott
recounted several instances where the victim had been hurt:
one instance where the victim rolled off the bed; one
instance where the victim was found facedown on the couch;
and another instance in which the victim hit his head against
a doorframe while being carried by Scott. In the instance
where the infant victim was found facedown on the couch,
Scott explained that he put the infant in the corner of the
couch, went to use the restroom, and, when he returned about
ten to fifteen minutes later, the infant was facedown and his
face had begun to change colors due to a lack of oxygen.
doll provided by the investigator, Scott also demonstrated
how he played "rough" with the three-month old
child, which included tossing the infant up into the air,
squeezing the infant, and bouncing with the baby. The medical
examiner reviewed the video-recorded demonstration and
concluded that the actions Scott demonstrated were not
"extensive" enough to produce the amount of force
that caused the victim's injuries. Dr. Mehta similarly
testified that Scott's self-reported actions would have
had to be more exaggerated than displayed in the video
recording in order to cause the victim's injuries.
testified in his own defense at trial. He denied ever
intentionally hurting the victim and claimed that he was
telling the truth when he told the detective that the only
thing that happened on the day of the victim's death was
that the victim fell when the swing broke. He admitted that
he once left the victim unattended on the couch for about ten
to fifteen minutes in order to use the restroom and found the
victim facedown struggling to breathe and changing color due
a lack of oxygen.
Scott argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion
for a directed verdict of acquittal on the counts for which
he was convicted. We disagree.
reviewing the denial of a motion for directed verdict of
acquittal, we apply the same standard used to evaluate the
sufficiency of the evidence supporting a guilty verdict under
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61
L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). See Smith v. State, 304 Ga.
752, 754 (822 S.E.2d 220) (2018). Under that standard, we
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdicts
and ask whether any rational trier of fact could have found
the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes
of which he was convicted. See id. (citing Jackson).
Questions concerning witness credibility, conflicts in the
evidence, and the weight of the evidence are for the ...