Georgia v. BeardAnnotate this Case
In 2014, appellee Dexter Beard was indicted for the malice murder of Selemon Belai; felony murder predicated on the aggravated assault of Belai; four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon of Belai, Cedric Jeffries, Lee Bailey, and Benny Martin; aggravated battery of Jeffries; and the possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. In 2015, a jury found Beard guilty of all crimes except the aggravated assault and aggravated battery of Jeffries. Following the verdict, the trial court sentenced Beard to, among other things, life imprisonment for malice murder. On October 31, 2018, the trial court granted Beard’s motion for new trial in an 18-page order, exercising its discretion as the “thirteenth juror.” The State appealed the trial court’s grant of Beard’s motion for new trial. Contrary to the State’s "bizarre argument," the Georgia Supreme Court determined the jury’s verdict was not demanded by the “great physical laws of the universe.” Having reviewed the entire record, and considering that the trial court was authorized, as the thirteenth juror, to discount the State’s witnesses and to credit Beard’s version of events, and bearing in mind the standard of review set forth in OCGA 5-5-50, the Court could not say that the trial court abused its substantial discretion in granting Beard a new trial on the general grounds.