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Morrall v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

November 18, 2019

MORRALL
v.
THE STATE.

         

         Murder. Bibb Superior Court. Before Judge Simms.

         COUNSEL:

          Brandon D. Morrall, pro se .

          K. David Cooke, Jr., District Attorney, Sandra G. Matson, Dorothy V. Hull, Assistant District Attorneys; Christopher M. Carr, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Matthew M. Youn, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Judges: BOGGS, Justice. All the Justices concur.

         OPINION

Page 93

          Boggs, Justice.

          Appellant Brandon Dewayne Morrall challenges his 2013 convictions for malice murder and a firearm offense in connection with the shooting death of Stephen "Tucker" Jackson. Appellant chose to represent himself on appeal, and his sole enumeration of error is that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel due to[307 Ga. 445] his trial counsel's failure to file a motion to prevent an eyewitness from identifying him at trial as the shooter. We affirm.[1]

Page 94

         1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdicts, the evidence at trial showed the following. In June 2011, two AK-47 rifles, a pump-action Mossberg shotgun, and a two-shooter derringer were stolen from Michael Warren's house in Macon. Warren reported them stolen to the police. Jackson told Warren that Appellant had one of the stolen AK-47s and took Warren to an apartment in the Bowden Homes housing project where Appellant was living with his girlfriend and young children. Warren pretended to be interested in buying the AK-47, and after examining the markings and serial numbers, Warren told Appellant that the AK-47 was his gun and had been stolen. Appellant tried to take the AK-47 from Warren, but Warren had brought a .45-caliber handgun with him, which he produced. Appellant grabbed the handgun, and in the ensuing struggle, both Appellant and Warren were shot; Warren was hit in the foot, and Appellant was hit in the hand. Jackson and Warren then left the apartment, taking Warren's .45 and the AK-47 with them. Jackson told his aunt about the confrontation, and in the following months, he told her on three different occasions that he had run into Appellant and that Appellant had threatened to kill him.

          On the night of October 6, 2011, Appellant, his brother Devin Freeman, and Demonquez Bell were drinking at Frank Nauer's house, where Freeman lived. Appellant was still angry at Jackson for[307 Ga. 446] bringing Warren to retrieve the stolen AK-47, and Appellant was rapping about wanting to kill Jackson, whom Bell had known his whole life. Bell tried to calm the situation down, telling Appellant that he needed to let go of his anger at Jackson, and Appellant started talking about fighting Jackson that night instead of shooting him. When Appellant, Freeman, and Bell got ready to leave Nauer's house, Bell saw that Freeman was carrying a Hi-Point .45-caliber pistol. Bell was upset and asked why they were bringing a gun if Appellant only wanted to fight Jackson. Bell decided to follow Appellant and Freeman to make sure that they did not shoot Jackson.

          Bell went with Appellant and Freeman across the street to Bowden Homes, where Appellant and Freeman looked for Jackson but did not find him. Appellant got a phone call, after which Bell noticed that Appellant and Freeman were smiling and Appellant was “ amped up.” Appellant and Freeman walked to a “ bootleg house,” where a crowd had gathered outside.[2] Bell followed and saw Jackson before Appellant and Freeman did. Jackson was standing at the driver's side window of an SUV parked under a streetlight, leaning into the SUV and talking to the occupants, Linda Willis and Travis Brown. Bell walked over to Jackson and tried to convince Jackson to go with Bell inside the bootleg house for a drink, but Jackson declined. Bell went to the bootleg house, and Jackson continued talking to Willis and Brown.

          Appellant then came up behind Jackson and shot him once in the head and three times in the back with the Hi-Point .45, killing him. Willis and Brown scrambled out of the passenger side door of the SUV and ran. As the crowd ...


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