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Anderson v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Third Division

October 15, 2019

ANDERSON
v.
The STATE.

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          Ronald Edward Daniels, Perry, for Appellant.

         Daniel Patrick Bibler, George Herbert Hartwig III, for Appellee.

         OPINION

         Gobeil, Judge.

          Following a jury trial, Nijee Anderson was convicted of robbery by sudden snatching (Count 1), possession of methamphetamine (Count 2), possession of a drug related object

Page 373

(Count 3), and two counts of simple battery (Counts 4 and 5). Anderson filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court denied. Anderson appeals, contending that (i) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (ii) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to timely communicate a plea offer from the State; and (iii) the trial court erred in failing to merge the simple battery charge in Count 4 into the robbery by sudden snatching charge in Count 1. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment below, but we vacate the sentence for the simple battery charge in Count 4 with instruction that it be merged with the robbery by sudden snatching charge in Count 1.

         Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict,[1] the evidence adduced at trial shows that on October 16, 2016, the victims, Alfredo Monselvo and Victor Aliaz,[2] went to a Flash Foods gas station in Houston County to put air in a tire on Monselvo’s car. While the victims were handling the tire, Anderson approached them. Anderson tried to start a conversation and requested money from Aliaz. When Monselvo told Anderson to leave them alone and that they did not have any money, Anderson reacted angrily and punched Monselvo in his face. During the attack, Monselvo’s car keys fell from Monselvo’s pocket onto the ground. Anderson immediately grabbed Monselvo’s car keys and refused Monselvo’s requests to return them.

          Monselvo went inside the gas station and asked the cashier to call the police and report the incident. While the cashier was speaking with the 911 operator, Monselvo and the cashier observed Anderson slap Aliaz in his face "real hard."

          When the police arrived at the scene, Aliaz snatched the car keys out of Anderson’s hand. The responding officer obtained statements describing the incident from the victims and the cashier. The officer observed that Monselvo had reddening to the right side of his face, and Aliaz had reddening to the left side of his face in the form of a hand print, which were consistent with their descriptions of Anderson’s attack. The officer also took photographs of the victims’ faces depicting their injuries. Based upon his investigation at the scene, the officer determined that Anderson was the aggressor during the incident. Anderson was arrested for the simple batteries of the two victims.

         During a pat-down search of Anderson’s pockets incident to his arrest, the officer found several items, including a clear plastic bag containing a crystal-like substance in an empty cigarette pack, a spoon with burn marks on the bottom of it, and a clear glass pipe.[3] In addition, the officer discovered a syringe containing a clear substance inside a backpack that Anderson was carrying. The officer testified that he had experience investigating methamphetamine crimes and was familiar with the appearance of methamphetamine, which he described as a clear, crystal, shard-like substance. The officer further testified that based on his knowledge of how methamphetamine can be ingested, a spoon is used to heat methamphetamine until it turns into a liquid, a glass pipe is used to smoke methamphetamine, and a syringe is used to inject methamphetamine.

          Field testing of the substances found inside Anderson’s clear plastic bag and syringe yielded positive results for methamphetamine. The substance inside the clear plastic bag was sent to the GBI Crime Lab for additional testing. The ...


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