Sheard v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Appellant Elliot Sheard was convicted of murder and associated crimes in connection with the stabbing death of Charles Elder. A grand jury indicted Sheard – along with two co-defendants – on the charges of murder, felony murder predicated on aggravated assault, felony murder predicated on armed robbery, felony murder predicated on burglary, aggravated assault, armed robbery, and burglary. Following a joint trial conducted in late August and early September 1998, a jury acquitted Sheard of murder but found him guilty of all other offenses. After merging the felony murder and aggravated assault verdicts, the trial court sentenced Sheard to life imprisonment for felony murder predicated on aggravated assault and to consecutive terms of 20 years’ imprisonment for armed robbery and burglary, for a total sentence of life plus 40 years. A jury acquitted one co-defendant of all offenses and found Sheard guilty of all offenses. In its May 2014 order denying Sheard’s motion for new trial, the trial court found – based on its own recollection of the 1998 trial and its standard practice – that the closing arguments of the parties were unremarkable, that the transcript of the charge conference established that the jury was adequately and appropriately charged, that testimony recounting a number of questions from the jury was not credible and was, in fact, unlikely, and that it was unlikely the jury was given an "Allen" charge but, if one were to have been given, it would have been a pattern charge. Sheard appealed, arguing that missing portions of his trial transcript rendered his appeal meaningless. In light of a number of factors complicating the absence of portions of the trial transcript, the Supreme Court agreed that Sheard was entitled to a new trial and reversed the judgment of the trial court.