Manner v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Appellant Paul Manner was convicted of malice murder and related offenses in connection with the 2013 shooting death of Tracey Kingcannon. On appeal, Manner contended his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by withdrawing a request for a jury charge on the requirement for evidence corroborating accomplice testimony, and by failing to introduce evidence of the confessions of two of the State’s witnesses to an earlier aggravated assault on the victim. Manner also contended the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on impeachment by prior conviction related to a first offender guilty plea by on State witness was plain error; or, in the alternative, his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to preserve her objection to the court’s denial of her request for that instruction. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court determined counsel’s strategic decision to withdraw her request for an accomplice corroboration instruction was not objectively unreasonable under the circumstances of this case. Similarly, counsel’s decision to rely on testimony about the State’s witnesses’ involvement in and confessions to an earlier aggravated assault on the victim, rather than seeking to admit the witnesses’ written statements, fell within the broad range of reasonable trial strategy. And the Supreme Court found no error in the trial court’s refusal to give the instruction on impeachment by prior conviction, and thus, no deficiency in counsel’s failure to make a specific objection on this issue after the jury instructions were given. The Court did, however, find the trial court erred in merging the two felony murder verdicts into the malice murder verdict, when the felony murder convictions should have been vacated by operation of law.