Darnell Holmes challenges his 2015 convictions for felony
murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death
of Terry Mack. Holmes argues that the trial court erred in
denying his motion for directed verdict on the armed robbery
charge underlying his felony murder conviction and his felony
murder conviction, and that trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to move to sever his trial from that of his
co-defendant, Michael Tyrone Woods. We affirm.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's
verdicts, the evidence presented at trial showed the
following: On the night of April 11, 2013, Mack sat in his
red SUV in front of an apartment complex in Albany where
Woods, his partner in the crack-cocaine trade, lived with his
then-girlfriend Lashan Lumpkin. Mack and Woods were known
drug dealers, and Woods' apartment was located in a
reputed high-crime area. That night, Mack and Woods assumed
their usual positions: Mack sat in his SUV and waited for
customers to arrive, while Woods sat on his porch several
feet away, with a clear view of Mack's SUV and the
after 11:00 p.m., Sheila Dunn, a frequent customer, walked
toward Mack's SUV intending to buy some crack. On her
way, she saw an unknown male walk from the driver's side
of Mack's SUV into an alley across the street.
D'Marquis Williams, Mack's nephew and Woods'
next-door neighbor, was sitting in another SUV playing very
loud music in the parking lot in front of the same apartment
complex. Once Dunn arrived at Mack's SUV, she found him
inside and tried to speak to him, but he did not answer. She
noticed that he had blood on his shirt and yelled out to
Woods - who was still sitting on his porch mere feet away
looking at his smartphone - for help. Woods came over to the
vehicle and the two realized that Mack was not moving or
responding. He appeared to have been shot in the face. Woods
called 911 at 11:37 p.m.
police arrived on the scene minutes later. Mack was then
taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to the medical examiner, Mack died from a single
.38 caliber gunshot wound to the face. Although Mack was
known to carry cocaine and large amounts of cash, the police
found only a ten-dollar bill in his pocket.
testified that on the night of the shooting, he was sitting
in his Suburban playing music yards away from Mack's SUV
when he heard a gunshot, ducked, and then looked up to see
Holmes, a convicted felon whom he knew well from the
neighborhood, running away from the driver's side of
Mack's SUV. Lumpkin testified that Woods told her that,
on the night of the shooting, Holmes told Woods that he
intended to rob Mack and that Holmes shot Mack. Woods also
testified at trial, stating that Mack was known to carry
large amounts of cash with him. A woman who lived near Woods
said that on the night of the shooting, Holmes came to her
house to play cards and brought "a wad of money"
Holmes argues that the trial court erred in denying his
motion for directed verdict at the close of the State's
case as to the armed robbery count and the felony murder
count predicated on armed robbery, because the evidence was
insufficient to prove that he took anything from Mack. We
test established in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307, 319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979), is
the proper test for us to use when a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence arises from the denial of a
motion for directed verdict. See Humphrey v. State,
252 Ga. 525, 527 (314 S.E.2d 436) (1984). Under that test, we
view all of the evidence presented at trial in the light most
favorable to the verdicts and ask whether any rational trier
of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of the crimes of which he was convicted.
Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319. And as relevant here,
"a person commits the offense of armed robbery when,
with intent to commit theft, he or she takes property of
another from the person or the immediate presence of another
by use of an offensive weapon . . . ." OCGA §
case, a rational jury could conclude from the evidence
presented at trial and summarized above that on the night of
the shooting, Holmes went to Woods' residence; told Woods
that he was about to rob Mack; approached Mack's SUV,
where Mack was selling crack cocaine; shot Mack in the face;
took cash from Mack, leaving only a ten-dollar bill; and then
fled on foot. Therefore, the trial court did not err in
denying Holmes' motion for a directed verdict on the
armed robbery charge and the associated felony murder count.
See White v. State, 287 Ga. 208, 209 (1) (695 S.E.2d
Holmes does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to
support his conviction for possession of a firearm during the
commission of a felony. Nevertheless, in accordance with this
Court's usual practice in direct appeals in murder cases,
we have reviewed the record and conclude that, when properly
viewed in the light most favorable to the judgments of
conviction entered by the trial court, the evidence presented
at trial and summarized above was sufficient to authorize a
rational jury to find Holmes guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
of that offense. See Abney v. State, 306 Ga. 448,
452 (1) (831 S.E.2d 778) (2019).
Next, Holmes argues that trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to move the trial court to sever his trial from that
of Woods. To prevail on this claim, Holmes must demonstrate
that counsel's performance was professionally deficient
and that counsel's deficient performance prejudiced him.
See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 694
(104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674) (1984). Holmes has failed to
meet this high burden, for the simple reason that he and
Woods were not actually tried together. See Feliciana v.
United States, 990 F.2d 1257 (9th Cir. 1993)
(unpublished) (trial counsel not ineffective for failing to
move to sever defendant's trial from that of codefendants
because they pleaded guilty). Accordingly, we affirm
Holmes' convictions. Judgment affirmed. All
the Justices concur.
 Mack was killed on April 11, 2013. On
May 7, 2014, a Dougherty County grand jury indicted Holmes
and Woods on two counts of felony murder, armed robbery, two
counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a
felony, and two counts of aggravated assault. Holmes was also
indicted on two counts of possession of a firearm by a
convicted felon. The joint trial of Holmes and Woods started
on August 17, 2015, but before jury selection, Holmes'
felon-in- possession charges were bifurcated for hearing
after the other charges. In addition, Woods entered a guilty
plea to a previously unfiled accusation for selling cocaine,
in exchange for the State's promises not to seek a
sentence of imprisonment and to dismiss the charges against
him in connection with the shooting; the trial court
sentenced Woods to 17 years' probation. The trial
proceeded against Holmes alone until August 21, 2015, when
the jury found him guilty of all charges except the
bifurcated counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted
felon. After the jury returned its verdicts, Holmes pleaded
guilty to the two felon-in-possession counts, admitting that
he had previously been convicted of at least one felony
offense and that he possessed a .22-caliber revolver and a
.25-caliber pistol on separate occasions on April 13, 2013.
On September 10, 2015, the trial court sentenced Holmes to
serve life in prison without parole for felony murder
predicated on armed robbery, five years consecutive for
possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony,
and five years consecutive for the felon-in-possession
convictions, set to run concurrently with each other but
consecutive to the sentences for the other convictions.
Moreover, even though the trial court merged the guilty
verdict for felony murder predicated on aggravated assault
into one of the aggravated assault verdicts, that felony
murder verdict was vacated by operation of law because the
trial court entered a conviction ...