Drane v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
A jury convicted Leonard Maurice Drane of committing murder and aggravated battery against Renee Blackmon and sentenced him to death. Initially on direct appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed on a number of issues and held that the evidence for the convictions and for the statutory aggravating circumstances supporting the death sentence was sufficient. However, the Court remanded the case back to the trial court to conduct a hearing regarding the State's use of peremptory strikes during jury selection and regarding the court's exclusion of testimony of a jail inmate to whom Defendant's co-defendant had allegedly confessed during the guilt/innocence phase of testimony. After the hearing, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and death sentence. Defendant filed a petition for habeas corpus in 2000 which was denied in 2009. In 2010, in response to his application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal the denial of habeas relief, the Supreme Court remanded Defendant's habeas application for further consideration of two issues (not relevant to this appeal). That same year which the habeas application was still pending, Defendant filed an extraordinary motion for new trial in the original trial court claiming that Defendant's co-defendant had confessed to a parole officer as the sole perpetrator of the murder. This motion was denied, and Defendant appealed that denial to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the "newly discovered" evidence of the parole-officer-confession would not have produced a different result at trial had it been admitted. As such, the Court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the extraordinary motion for a new trial, and affirmed the court's judgment.