Melvin Johnson, Jr., appeals his convictions for malice
murder and armed robbery stemming from the shooting death of
Tony Rogers. Johnson argues that the evidence was
insufficient to support his murder conviction because,
although he was seen with Rogers prior to his death, there
was no physical evidence that he killed Rogers. He also
argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his
armed robbery conviction because the evidence fails to show
that he took Rogers's property by force. We affirm
because the evidence was sufficient to support Johnson's
Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the trial
evidence shows that around 7:30 p.m. on August 16, 1995,
Johnson was at a place known as the "Hole" located
off U.S. Highway 41 in Rocky Face. Johnson, who lived about a
half-mile from the Hole, was driving his white Ford truck.
same evening, Rogers went to dinner with his wife and a
mutual friend, and the trio made plans to go to a bar to hear
live music. Rogers wanted to visit another friend before
going to the bar and told his wife that he would meet her at
the bar later that night. Rogers left his wife around 8:00
p.m., driving his black Pontiac Sunbird. Before he left,
Rogers checked to make sure he had money in his wallet; he
had three dollars in it.
was next seen at the Hole around 8:30 p.m., when he talked
briefly to an acquaintance of his, Mike Rains. A half hour
later, Rains saw Rogers talking to another man sitting in a
white Ford truck. Rains saw Rogers leave the Hole around 9:15
p.m.; Rogers was driving his car and following the white Ford
that time, Johnson arrived at Paul and Penny Ledford's
house in his truck that was being followed by a dark car.
Johnson asked to leave his truck there, but did not explain
why. Johnson was acting nervous and hurried. Paul Ledford
allowed Johnson to leave his truck, and Johnson left in the
dark car that Paul Ledford later reported may have been
driven by Rogers. The dark car headed north on U.S. Highway
41 toward Ringgold.
9:50 p.m., two individuals called 911 after finding a body
along the side of the road in a heavily wooded area known as
Taylor Ridge, located just south of Ringgold in Catoosa
County. The individuals led police to the body; the body was
warm to the touch, but was unresponsive, and had blood around
the head and arms. Officers did not find a wallet on or near
the body but did recover some loose change in the
victim's pocket. Police also observed suspected brain
matter and a penny in the middle of the road, about six feet
from where the body lay.
arrived at his uncle's residence near Taylor Ridge
several hours later. Johnson was scratched up and his shoes
were muddy, and he told his uncle that he broke his ankle.
Johnson asked to use his uncle's phone and called Thomas
Flores around 4:00 a.m., asking that Flores give him a ride
to retrieve his truck. Flores, Flores' mother, and
another individual picked up Johnson at a gas station off
U.S. Highway 41 near Ringgold and took Johnson to his truck.
Johnson had a big tear in his pants and had trouble walking
and claimed that someone "jumped" him. After being
dropped off, Johnson gave Flores three dollars for gas money.
later identified the body as Rogers. An autopsy revealed two
gunshot wounds to the head. The first shot was not fatal but
likely caused Rogers to lose consciousness, while the second
shot was a fatal shot to the back of the head. Based on
Rogers's wounds, the shooter was standing in front of
Rogers for the first gunshot and fired an execution-style
shot from behind for the second.
also located Rogers's vehicle about one-and-a-half miles
from where his body was found. A crime scene technician
recovered a number of latent fingerprints from Rogers's
vehicle. A fingerprint examiner later compared known prints
of Johnson to some of the recovered prints and concluded that
three of the recovered prints were a match for Johnson.
on information that the victim was last seen talking to a man
in an older white truck and that Johnson drove such a truck,
police asked to interview Johnson. Johnson voluntarily went
to the police station for an interview; the interview was
video recorded and played for the jury. Johnson admitted
to the lead investigator that he was at the Hole on the
evening of August 16, 1995, claiming that he was there only
briefly around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. to smoke a cigarette.
Johnson also said he drove around for five to six hours after
that. Johnson claimed that in the early hours of August 17,
three men jumped him, put him into a car, hit his feet with a
baseball bat, and abducted him. Johnson said he called Flores
around 3:00 a.m., when the three men kicked him out of the
vehicle, and Flores took him to retrieve his truck. Johnson
denied knowing Rogers or that anyone followed him when he
left the Hole.
later interview, which was also video recorded and played for
the jury, Johnson was read his Miranda
rights and waived them. Johnson admitted that Rogers
approached his vehicle sometime between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00
p.m. in Rocky Face. Johnson reported that he offered to sell
Rogers some marijuana, and then he left in his truck with
Rogers following. After dropping off his truck at the
Ledfords, Johnson got into Rogers's car, and they drove
to the Taylor Ridge area because, according to Johnson, he
had marijuana buried in the woods there. Johnson said that,
once there, Rogers asked if Johnson would accept oral sex in
exchange for some marijuana. Johnson said he refused, got out
of the car, and walked off. Johnson claimed that he heard two
gunshots about two minutes later, saw a tan truck a few
minutes after that, and began to run because he was scared.
He also told the police that he injured his feet and ankles
while running through the woods. Johnson repeatedly denied
trial, Rogers's widow and a friend both testified that
Rogers was never seen smoking marijuana, did not like drugs,
and was bothered by cigarettes.
his sole argument on appeal, Johnson argues that the evidence
was insufficient to sustain his convictions for malice ...