Mohamed was convicted of malice murder in connection with the
stabbing death of fellow inmate Johnny Lee Johnson. Following
the trial court's denial of his motion for new trial,
Mohamed appeals, contending that the evidence is insufficient
to sustain his conviction, that the trial court erred in
several instances, and that trial counsel was
in a light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the
evidence presented at trial showed the following. The victim,
Mohamed, and Mohamed's two co-defendants were all inmates
in the D-2 dormitory at Telfair State Prison. Witnesses
testified at trial that the victim was in his cell when
Mohamed entered with a knife and started a fight with the
victim that carried out into the cell block's common
area; witnesses saw stab wounds on the victim's chest
when he exited his cell.
the fight moved into the common area, the victim used a
broomstick to fight with multiple men, including Mohamed.
During this time, the victim was further punched and stabbed.
The victim suffered non-fatal stab wounds to his shoulder and
chest and a fatal stab wound to the chest.
Mohamed asserts that the evidence adduced at trial was
insufficient to support his conviction for malice murder and,
relatedly, that the trial court erred in denying his motion
for directed verdict. A challenge to the trial court's
denial of a motion for a directed verdict of acquittal is
subject to the same test as we apply to a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence supporting an appellant's
conviction: "whether the evidence presented at trial,
when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, was
sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find the appellant
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes of which he
was convicted." Virger v. State, 305 Ga. 281,
286 (2) (824 S.E.2d 346) (2019). See also Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d
was charged individually and as a party to the crime of
malice murder. OCGA § 16-2-20 (a) provides that
"[e]very person concerned in the commission of a crime
is a party thereto and may be charged with and convicted of
commission of the crime." "Whether a person is a
party to a crime may be inferred from that person's
presence, companionship, and conduct before, during, and
after the crime." Williams v. State, 304 Ga.
658, 661 (1) (821 S.E.2d 351) (2018). Whether the evidence
supports such an inference is a question for the jury. See
case, two eyewitnesses testified that they saw Mohamed run
into the victim's cell wielding a knife and then attack
the victim. These two witnesses also testified that, when the
victim emerged from his cell as the fight moved into the
common area, the victim had a stab wound on his side.
Mohamed, with support from his fellow aggressors, continued
fighting with the victim in the common area where Mohamed was
seen stabbing the victim again. As Mohamed notes, the
evidence did not establish which attacker inflicted the fatal
wound, but that makes no difference here; his conduct
supports the jury's conclusion that he shared an intent
to murder the victim, regardless of whether he inflicted the
fatal wound. See Jackson v. State, 303 Ga.
487, 489 (1) (813 S.E.2d 372) (2018) ("Even where it is
undisputed that the victim was [fatally wounded] by another
person, every person concerned in the commission of the crime
may be convicted of the crime.").
evidence recounted above was sufficient to authorize a
rational jury to find Mohamed guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt of the crime of which he was convicted, see
Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319, and, accordingly, the
trial court did not err in denying Mohamed's motion for a
directed verdict of acquittal, see Virger, 305 Ga.
Mohamed asserts that the trial court erred in three respects.
We address each in turn.
Mohamed argues that the trial court erred in permitting
armed, uniformed law enforcement officers to remain around
him throughout the trial, thereby unduly prejudicing him.
of security measures to prevent dangerous or disruptive
behavior that threatens the conduct of a fair and safe trial
is within the trial court's discretion." Krause
v. State, 286 Ga. 745, 750 (5) (691 S.E.2d 211) (2010).
But we need not consider whether the trial court abused its
discretion here because the record shows, and Mohamed
concedes, that he failed to object to the security measures
during the course of the trial. "Failure to raise the
issue deprives the trial court of the opportunity to take
appropriate remedial action and waives appellate review of
any alleged impropriety." Weldon v. State, 297
Ga. 537, 541 (775 S.E.2d 522) (2015).
Mohamed next claims that the trial court erred when it
admitted testimony regarding the presence of gangs and gang
activity at Telfair State Prison, arguing that the evidence
was irrelevant and served no purpose other than to place his
character in issue.
initial matter, we note that, while co-defendant Gipson
objected to the testimony at issue, Mohamed neither joined
Gipson's objection nor raised his own. Accordingly, his
claim may be reviewed only for plain error. See Anthony
v. State, 303 Ga. 399, 408 (7) (811 S.E.2d 399) (2018).
To establish plain error, a defendant must identify a clear
and obvious legal error that he did not affirmatively waive
and demonstrate that the error affected his substantial
rights. See State v. Kelly, 290 Ga. 29, 33 (2) (a)
(718 S.E.2d 232) (2011). Where a defendant makes such a
showing, this Court is authorized ...