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State v. Dean

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Third Division

October 17, 2019

The STATE
v.
DEAN.

Page 16

          Teri Brown Walker, Paul L. Howard Jr., Atlanta, Dustin Jeremiah Lee, for Appellant.

         Lauren Beth Shubow, Michael D. Hill, for Appellee.

         OPINION

         Dillard, Presiding Judge.

         The State appeals the Superior Court of Fulton County’s decision to transfer this case against Ghohaun Dean to juvenile court. Specifically, the State argues that the superior court erred in (1) its application of OCGA § 15-11-560 and OCGA § 15-11-562 by making clearly erroneous factual findings, and (2) failing to properly weigh all of the factors it was required to consider under OCGA § 15-11-562. Because we agree with the State that the superior court made an unsupported factual finding as to one of the transfer factors or failed to fully consider that factor, we vacate and remand for additional proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         The record shows that on February 28, 2018, Dean was indicted[1] on one count of aggravated sodomy[2] and one count of sexual battery of a child under the age of 16.[3] The indictment alleged that Dean committed aggravated sodomy by performing a "sexual act involving [his] sexual organ and the anus of [the alleged victim], a child under ten (10) years of age, by penetrating her anus with his male sex organ[,]" and sexual battery by making "physical contact with the buttocks of the body of [the alleged victim], a child under the age of 16 years, without her consent." These acts were allegedly committed in August and September of 2017, respectively.

         According to the arrest affidavit, the above incidents occurred when Dean was 14 years old and the alleged victim, A. D., was two years old. At the time, Dean was staying overnight at his grandmother’s house with his two brothers. A.D. is a sister to Dean’s two brothers, but she and Dean have no biological connection. Dean allegedly committed aggravated sodomy when A.D. was sleeping alone while her father was at work. The next morning, when A. D.’s father

Page 17

changed her diaper, she whimpered, and he found what appeared to be blood and semen in the diaper. A subsequent medical examination confirmed that A. D.’s anus sustained tearing and lacerations, indicating that she had been sodomized by someone. After receiving stitches and spending several days in the hospital, A.D. went to stay with her mother, to whom she confided that Dean hurt her.

         Following the indictment, Dean moved to transfer his case from superior court to juvenile court. Dean argued that— due to a history of mental health and emotional problems, including a learning disability and having lower cognitive function— he "should not be held to the accountability that is inherent in the prosecution of juveniles in [s]uperior [c]ourt." And prior to ruling on the motion, the superior court ordered pretrial services to prepare a transfer report, which was to contain additional information it could use to decide whether to grant Dean’s motion. Then, following a series of hearings on the matter, on June 16, 2018, the superior court transferred the action to juvenile court. This appeal by the State follows.[4]

         1. The State argues that the superior court erred in its application of OCGA § 15-11-560 and OCGA § 15-11-562 by making clearly erroneous factual findings.

          Our Juvenile Code provides that juvenile courts, with limited exception,

have concurrent jurisdiction with the superior court over a child who is alleged to have committed a delinquent act which would be considered a crime if tried in a superior court and for which an adult may be punished by loss of life, imprisonment for life without possibility of parole, or confinement for life in a penal institution.[5]

         The exception to this concurrent jurisdiction provides that superior courts have "exclusive original jurisdiction over the trial of any child 13 to 17 years of age who is alleged to have committed" murder, murder in the second degree, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault upon a public ...


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