Lester v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Layton Lester was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Lorrine Bozeman. Bozeman, who lived in a house with her mother and who was fifteen-year-old Lester’s great aunt, received a large amount of cash that she was planning to use to buy a piece of property. On the evening of April 29, 2007, Lester was at co-indictee Shurrod Rich’s house. Rich’s brother was present and heard Lester suggest to Rich that they “go rob” Bozeman, telling Rich that they could get $5,000 from the robbery. Between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. on the same evening, Bozeman’s front door was kicked in and she was shot twice. Bozeman’s sister, Vernel Clay, who lived several houses away, heard the gunshots and saw two people running through her backyard afterwards. When Rich and Lester returned to Rich’s house, Rich’s brother observed that Lester had changed into black clothes, was breathing hard, was nervous, and later had cash to spend for food. Rich and Lester told Sean Ross, a friend of theirs who lived in the area, that they had robbed and shot Bozeman and that she had screamed. After Lester’s mother overheard Lester talking on the phone and noticed that he was acting nervous and scared, she grew concerned and approached law enforcement. The jury would find Lester guilty on all counts, and he was ultimately sentenced to life in prison for malice murder, a concurrent term of 20 years for armed robbery, and terms of 20 years for burglary to run consecutively to the murder sentence and 5 years for the firearm count to run consecutively to the burglary sentence. The felony-murder counts were vacated by operation of law. On appeal, Lester contends that the trial court erred in admitting statements he made to law enforcement after Bozeman’s death and in denying his “motion for mistrial” arising from the presence of an alternate juror during jury deliberations. Finding no reversible error, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.