Strozier v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
A jury found Johnathan Anthony and Jekari Strozier guilty of a variety of crimes, including felony murder. On appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court held that “the trial court properly convicted [the] appellants of felony murder predicated upon unlawful participation in criminal gang activity through the commission of a simple battery [Count 4].” The Supreme Court also held that the jury’s verdicts as to voluntary manslaughter (Count 1) and the other felony murder counts (Counts 2-3, 5-7) were vacated by operation of law. Further, the Court held the evidence was insufficient as to Count 11 (affray) and so it reversed that conviction. After explaining in detail how the convictions on Counts 1-3 and 5-13 had been either merged, vacated, or reversed, we affirmed the appellants’ convictions as to the Count 4 felony murder only. The Supreme Court did not remand these cases to the trial court for resentencing. When the cases returned to the trial court, all the court was required to do was to file the remittiturs. Instead, upon the return of the remittiturs, the trial court, at the urging of the prosecutor, entered an “Amended Sentence Pursuant to Supreme Court Decision” for each defendant. The court sentenced Strozier and Anthony to life imprisonment for felony murder predicated on aggravated battery (Count 3, one of the felony murder convictions that had been vacated by operation of law) and to 15 years imprisonment for criminal gang activity (Count 13, aggravated battery, one of the predicate offenses that we held had merged into Count 10, which, in turn, had been merged into Count 4.) The trial court directed a verdict of not guilty on Count 11 and noted that the remaining counts either merged or had been vacated. The appellants contended on appeal to the Supreme Court, and the State conceded, the trial court’s resentencing orders violated the law of the case rule. Because the trial court was precluded from revising the previous holding, the amended sentencing orders were nullities that did not supersede the sentencing orders already reviewed by the Supreme Court. Therefore appellants' sentences as to Count 4 remained in effect.