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Floyd v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

January 13, 2020


          Reconsideration denied February 10, 2020.

Page 791

          Murder. Dougherty Superior Court. Before Judge Lockette.


          James N. Finkelstein, for appellant (case no. S19A1493).

          Conger & Smith, Gregory D. Smith, for appellant (case no. S19A1494).

          Gregory W. Edwards, District Attorney; Christopher M. Carr, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Matthew B. Crowder, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.


Page 792

          Bethel, Justice.

          A Dougherty County jury found Louis Floyd, Jr., and Tara Lee Harrell guilty of murder and other offenses in connection with the death of William Jackson.[1] Floyd and

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Harrell now appeal. Floyd argues that the trial court erred by not granting his motion to sever the trial and by failing to charge the jury on justification. He also claims that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Harrell argues only that the evidence presented by the State against her was insufficient to support the verdicts and that the trial court should have granted her motion for directed verdict. Finding no error, we affirm.

          1. The evidence presented at trial showed the following. Floyd and Harrell lived together for two years beginning in September 2011, during which time they were in a romantic relationship. Floyd is a black male, and Harrell is a white female.

          Harrell also had a relationship with William Jackson, whom she and others knew as "TV Man."[2] Harrell and Jackson met in 2011 while Harrell's sister, Donna Timbes, was living at the Dollar Inn in Dougherty County. Jackson also lived at the Dollar Inn. Harrell and Jackson had a sexual relationship, and they had a child together who was born in early 2013.

          The relationship between Floyd and Harrell became strained and sometimes violent after Floyd learned that Harrell had started seeing Jackson. Floyd and Harrell had daily arguments about Harrell's relationship with Jackson, which were sometimes observed by others. They also argued because Floyd had begun sleeping with Timbes. Harrell would regularly go to the Dollar Inn to see Jackson after she and Floyd argued.

          Jessica Arnold testified that she spoke with Floyd and Harrell at the gas station where Arnold worked. When Harrell mentioned Jackson in the context of being the father of Harrell's child, Floyd began to get angry and told Harrell that if he ever caught her around Jackson again, he would kill Jackson.

          Another friend, Brandi Luke, testified that she had also been around Floyd and Harrell several times when Jackson came up in conversation. Luke testified that, through those conversations (which occurred while Harrell was pregnant), she learned that Floyd did not like Jackson because Jackson might have been the father of Harrell's child. Luke testified that Floyd spoke very badly about Jackson, and that Floyd “ let it be known very clearly” on multiple occasions that if Harrell went to see Jackson, there would be “ repercussions.”

          Timbes also testified that Floyd and Jackson did not get along, and that Floyd said that he did not like Jackson because Jackson was seeing Harrell. Timbes testified about an incident in 2011 in which police were called to Floyd's house after he and Harrell got in an argument and punched each other when Floyd refused to take Harrell to the Dollar Inn. Timbes also testified that she had previously heard Floyd tell Harrell that if he ever saw her with Jackson again, he was going to kill Jackson.

          Another sister of Harrell, Stephanie, testified that Floyd sometimes came to her house with Harrell. Stephanie testified that Floyd would regularly bring up Jackson in conversation and say that Floyd wanted to kill Jackson for getting Harrell pregnant.

          Harrell testified that, on August 14, 2013, she drove herself and Floyd to the Dollar Inn to meet someone called “ Georgia Boy” to buy drugs and alcohol. Harrell parked the car behind the building near a laundry room.

          When they realized that Georgia Boy was not in his room, Harrell and Floyd walked to the front of the Dollar Inn and saw Shelby Royal (who was in a relationship with Timbes, Harrell's sister) and Carl Grant standing near a dumpster. Harrell said to Royal, “ Have you heard what your girlfriend has been doing?” This angered Floyd because it was apparently in reference to Timbes trying to sleep with[307 Ga. 791] Floyd. Floyd knocked a drink from Harrell's hand and pushed her down because he thought she was trying to sleep with Royal. Floyd then waved a knife at Royal and Grant and threatened to kill them,

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after which Grant left and walked to his room on the corner of the Dollar Inn.

          Floyd and Harrell walked back to their car. A man who had been sitting inside the laundry room heard some loud talking, came outside, and saw Floyd and Harrell standing outside their car. When he asked them to be quiet, Floyd told Harrell, “ Come on, b****. Let's go. Shut up and get in the f***ing car.” They got back in the car, and Harrell began to drive away. According to Harrell, Floyd then hit her in the face, causing her nose to bleed. She stopped the car, parked in front of the Dollar Inn, and got out. Seeing that Jackson's door was open, Harrell ran into Jackson's room so that she could use his bathroom.

          According to Harrell, Jackson was sitting on a chair inside the room repairing an electronic device. Harrell told him she needed some tissue because Floyd had hit her, and Jackson let her go to his bathroom where Harrell began washing her hands. As Harrell moved back toward the door, Floyd ran in and said, “ B****, what you in here for?” Harrell attempted to pull Floyd out of the room as he and Jackson began to fight, but Floyd pushed Harrell through the door of the room out onto the sidewalk. Outside, Harrell called out for help. Floyd and Jackson continued to “ wrestle” inside the room, and Jackson tried to force Floyd out of the room. Their struggle continued against one of the walls of the room, and Harrell then saw Floyd stab Jackson in the ...

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