NAHMIAS, PRESIDING JUSTICE.
Roderick Thornton was convicted of malice murder and a
firearm offense in connection with the shooting death of
Jonathan Brady. Appellant contends that the trial court erred
by improperly instructing the jury on aggravated assault and
by failing to instruct on a witness's motives in
testifying and on accomplice corroboration. He also contends
that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by not
objecting to the trial court's failure to give those
charges and by eliciting certain testimony during his
cross-examination of the lead detective on the case. Each of
these claims is meritless, so we affirm.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the
evidence presented at Appellant's trial showed the
following. Brady was a drug dealer in the Fulton Industrial
Boulevard area of Fulton County, and Appellant was a
competing drug dealer in that area. On the night of September
11, 2014, Korey Williams called Brady to buy drugs. They
agreed to meet at a gas station on Fulton Industrial
Boulevard. Around 10:45 p.m., Brady pulled his white Buick
into a motel parking lot across the street from the gas
station. Williams assumed that Brady wanted to meet at the
motel instead, and he began to walk toward Brady's car.
Brady sat in his car outside the motel, his friend Tariq
Harris, who had been smoking marijuana nearby, walked up to
the car, leaned into the open front driver's-side window,
and started talking with Brady. According to Harris, he then
heard a loud knock followed by a gunshot, and he jumped back
from the car. He heard someone mumble, "I wasn't
playing" or "You thought I was playing,
b**ch." Harris saw Appellant, whom he had known
for many years, standing next to him, close to the rear
driver's-side window. Harris also saw another man he
knew, Robert Henderson, standing behind the car. Henderson,
who had been using drugs nearby and was walking through the
motel parking lot, saw his friends Harris and Appellant
standing near the car; Henderson then heard the gunshot as he
walked behind the car.
whose view of Brady's car was partially obstructed by
bushes, saw Harris and then Appellant approach the car; he
also saw another man standing further away from them.
Williams then heard the gunshot. He later told the police
that after he heard the sound, he asked what it was, and
Appellant said that it was a tire popping, although Williams
knew it was not. Williams also said that after the shot,
Harris asked Appellant, "What the hell you do that
for?" Harris, Henderson, Williams, and Appellant did not
call the police. Instead, they walked separately away from
immediately after the gunshot, which hit Brady under his left
arm and then transected his pulmonary artery, he drove his
car across Fulton Industrial Boulevard, but he lost
consciousness and the car careened into a grassy area across
the street from the motel. Emergency responders transported
Brady to a hospital, where he soon died from the gunshot
wound. The medical examiner determined that the .45-caliber
bullet recovered from Brady's body caused an atypical
entrance wound consistent with its having passed through
window glass before hitting Brady.
found a bullet hole in the rear driver's-side window of
Brady's car. In the car, they found three bags of crack
cocaine, two digital scales, plastic baggies, a 9mm handgun,
three cell phones, and $537 in cash. They also found a
.45-caliber shell casing in front of the motel. A firearms
examiner concluded that the bullet from Brady's body and
the shell casing had not been fired by the 9mm handgun found
in Brady's car.
lead detective on the case obtained a video recording of the
shooting from one of the motel's surveillance cameras.
The recording, which was grainy and had no audio, showed
Brady's car pull up near the motel's entrance;
moments later, a man in a white t-shirt approached the car
and leaned into the front driver's-side window. Another
man walked up to the car a few seconds later. He stopped near
the first man, closer to the rear driver's-side window.
Almost immediately, both men made sudden movements, and the
car sped away. The video also showed a third man approaching
the car; that man was standing just behind the car when it
left. During his interview with investigators and again at
trial, Harris was shown the surveillance video and identified
himself as the man in the white t-shirt, Appellant as the
second man who approached the car, and Henderson as the man
who was standing just behind the car. Henderson made the same
identifications when shown the video at trial.
who was a convicted felon, was arrested nearly five months
after the shooting. He did not testify at trial; his defense
theory was that Harris alone had committed the murder. To
support that theory, Appellant argued that the surveillance
video showed Harris swing his arms out as if to shoot Brady
just before the car sped away. The lead detective, however,
testified that Appellant was the only person shown on the
video who was standing in a position to shoot through the
rear driver's-side window. The State argued that Harris,
who was standing by the open front driver's-side window
before the car sped away, would not have shot Brady through
the closed rear window. In addition, the prosecutor asked
Harris if he had committed the murder, and he squarely denied
does not challenge the legal sufficiency of the evidence
supporting his convictions. Nevertheless, in accordance with
this Court's practice in murder cases, we have reviewed
the record and conclude that, when viewed in the light most
favorable to the verdicts, the evidence presented at trial
and summarized above was sufficient to authorize a rational
jury to find Appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of
the crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d
560) (1979). See also Vega v. State, 285 Ga. 32, 33
(673 S.E.2d 223) (2009) ("'It was for the jury to
determine the credibility of the witnesses and to resolve any
conflicts or inconsistencies in the evidence.'"
Appellant contends that the trial court erred by improperly
instructing the jury on aggravated assault and by failing to
instruct on a witness's motives in testifying and on
accomplice corroboration. Appellant's trial counsel did
not object to the aggravated assault charge or to the
omission of the witness's-motives charge, and counsel
withdrew his request for an accomplice-corroboration
instruction. Thus, as Appellant acknowledges, this
Court's review of these claims is for plain error only.
See OCGA § 17-8-58 (b); State v.
Kelly, 290 Ga. 29, 32 (718 S.E.2d 232) (2011).
To show plain error, Appellant must demonstrate that the
instructional error was not affirmatively waived, was obvious
beyond reasonable dispute, likely affected the outcome of the
proceedings, and seriously affected the fairness, integrity,
or public reputation of judicial proceedings.
"Satisfying all four prongs of this standard is
difficult, as it should be."
Hood v. State, 303 Ga. 420, 425-426 (811 S.E.2d 392)
(2018) (citation omitted).
Appellant argues that the trial court committed plain error
by erroneously instructing the jury on aggravated assault,
which allegedly resulted in the jury's improperly finding
him guilty of that count and the count of felony murder based
on it. We need not decide whether the aggravated assault
instruction was flawed, however, because Appellant was not
convicted of or sentenced for aggravated assault or felony
murder. Thus, this claim is moot. See J ...