Georgia v. AlvarezAnnotate this Case
Appellee Pedro Alvarez was tried by a jury and convicted of malice murder and other offenses arising out of the shooting death of Ainsley Jackson. Immediately before the shooting, appellee observed Jackson and appellee’s brother in a fist fight over the sale of cocaine to a person they both claimed as a customer. After appellee’s brother lost the fight, appellee retrieved a shotgun from a nearby apartment, went back outside, and fired two shots at Jackson. Although the brother was subpoenaed to testify at trial, he failed to appear. In both its opening statement and closing argument, the State referenced the statement the brother made to police shortly after the incident. Appellee objected to the reference to the statement made during the closing argument and the trial court sustained the objection. In his motion for new trial, appellee claimed the State nevertheless continued to reference the inadmissible statement. In granting the motion for new trial, the trial court found the State’s conduct in referencing the brother’s statement in its closing even after the court sustained appellee’s objection, and in implying that the statement incriminated appellee, was improper and prejudiced appellee’s right to a fair trial. The court also found it had committed plain error when it failed to instruct the jury that the State had the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that appellee’s conduct was not justified despite being requested to do so in appellee’s written requests to charge. The State appealed, and finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed.