Supreme Court of Georgia Decisions 2021

Johnson v. Avis Rent-A-Car System, LLC  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Numbers: S20G0695, S20G0696

Justia Opinion Summary: Two cases consolidated for review by the Georgia Supreme Court arose from a car accident that happened after Byron Perry stole a sport utility vehicle (SUV) from a rental lot where he worked and later crashed into Briann...

Booth v. Georgia  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0010

Justia Opinion Summary: Tina Marie Booth was convicted by jury of felony murder and neglect of an elder person, charges that arose in connection with the death of her mother, Linda Cowart. The evidence at trial showed that Booth took custody of...

Draughn v. Georgia  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Numbers: S21A0494, S21A0441, S21A0041

Justia Opinion Summary: Demarco Draughn, Xavier Levatte, and Benny Hayward appealed their malice murder convictions for the 2017 stabbing death of fellow inmate Bobby Ricks. Draughn and Levatte challenged the sufficiency of the evidence present...

Kessler v. Georgia  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0066

Justia Opinion Summary: Dana Kessler was convicted by jury of felony murder and related offenses in connection with the shooting death of Jeffrey Morgan, Jr. On appeal, Kessler raised three claims in which the trial court erred, arguing that th...

Georgia v. Walden  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0210

Justia Opinion Summary: Carly Walden was charged with malice murder and other crimes for the April 2019, shooting death of her mother, Andrea Walker, at Walker’s home. Walden called police and reported a shooting; she claimed an unidentified ma...

Outlaw v. Georgia  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0305

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Charles Outlaw was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Angela Rabotte. On appeal, he argued the trial court erred by denying his motions to suppress evidence der...

Bell v. Raffensperger  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0306

Justia Opinion Summary: Andrew Bell challenged the denial of his application for mandamus and injunctive relief in which he sought to compel Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to include Bell’s name as an independent candidate on the ballot...

Georgia v. Thomas  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Numbers: S21A0324, S21X0325

Justia Opinion Summary: Tyler Thomas was convicted of malice murder and a firearm crime in connection with the fatal shooting of Ashley Brown during a planned drug deal. The trial court granted Thomas’s motion for new trial, ruling that the Sta...

Moon v. Georgia  
Date: May 3, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0383

Justia Opinion Summary: Sergio Moon was tried by jury and convicted of felony murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Linda Flint, the great-grandmother of his children. Moon argued on appeal: (1) the trial court erred...

Smith v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0086

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Nakotah Smith challenged his 2019 convictions for malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend, Crystal Vega. Smith did not dispute that the evidence presented at trial...

Anthony v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0089

Justia Opinion Summary: Terrone Anthony was convicted of malice murder, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the shooting death of Kavader McKibben. On appeal, Anthony contended his tri...

Vann v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0121

Justia Opinion Summary: James Vann was convicted by jury of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Tiesha Davis. On appeal, Vann contended that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request a jury inst...

Gobert v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0141

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2016, Michael Gobert was convicted by jury of felony murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Johnny Montgomery and the aggravated assaults of Edrius Putnam and Deisman Harrison. On appeal, Gob...

Truett v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0162

Justia Opinion Summary: Christopher Truett was convicted of malice murder and related crimes arising out of the beating death of his girlfriend’s two-year-old son, Wyatt Pruitt. He appealed, arguing only that the trial court erred in excluding...

Acosta v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0247

Justia Opinion Summary: Eder Acosta appealed his convictions for malice murder and first-degree cruelty to children in connection with the death of Bryan Guzman. Acosta argued on appeal that the trial court erred in admitting the statements he...

Bedford v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Numbers: S21A0254, S21A0253

Justia Opinion Summary: Million Bedford and Yaheed Brooks were tried together and convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2017 shooting death of Johnny Jackson. Each contended on appeal that there was insufficient evi...

Agee v. Georgia  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0372

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Derrick Agee was found guilty at a bench trial of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Steven Lowe and assault of Monitaaz Simmons. On appeal, Agee contended the evidence was...

GEICO Indemnity Co. v. Whiteside  
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21Q0227

Justia Opinion Summary: The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified to three questions of law to the Georgia Supreme Court relating to a lawsuit brought in federal district court by Fife Whiteside, the trustee of the b...

IN THE MATTER OF CYNTHIA ANN LAIN (five cases)
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Numbers: S21Y0652, S21Y0654, S21Y0655, S21Y0657, S21Y0658
IN THE MATTER OF MISTY OAKS PAXTON
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0696
IN THE MATTER OF MAJD M. GHANAYEM
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0705
IN THE MATTER OF MAJD M. GHANAYEM
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0705
IN THE MATTER OF MAJD M. GHANAYEM
Date: April 19, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0705
IN THE MATTER OF JASON LEE VAN DYKE
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S20Y0631
IN THE MATTER OF JOSEPH HAROLD TURNER, JR. (two cases)
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Numbers: S20Y0947, S20Y0948
IN THE MATTER OF EDWARD SHUFF COOK
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S20Y1501
IN THE MATTER OF EDWARD SHUFF COOK
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S20Y1501
Johnson v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0034

Justia Opinion Summary: At a 2014 jury trial, John “Shug” Johnson was found guilty of malice murder and other offenses in connection with the shooting death of Brandon Scott. Johnson’s motion for new trial was granted on the basis of plain erro...

Davis v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0044

Justia Opinion Summary: Zemartae Davis was convicted of felony murder and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime in connection with the stabbing death of Dontravious Hoskins. On appeal, Davis contended the trial court erred when...

Pindling v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0084

Justia Opinion Summary: Michael Pindling was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Robert Pett. On appeal, Pindling argued the trial court plainly erred when instructing the jury that a single witn...

Green v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0118

Justia Opinion Summary: Corey Green was convicted by jury of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the armed robbery and shooting death of Christopher Peek. On appeal, he claimed he was improperly sentenced as a recidivist, and that...

Morris v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Numbers: S21A0191, S21A0192

Justia Opinion Summary: Mims Michael Morris, Sr. (“Mims”), Mims Michael Morris, Jr. (“Michael”), and Roy Bradshaw (“Roy”) were convicted by jury of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and robbery in the fatal beating of Earl Gill....

McDaniel v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0217

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Robert McDaniel appeals pro se from the trial court’s denial of his motion for out-of-time appeal, his general demurrer, and his motion in arrest of judgment. In 2014, a grand jury indicted McDaniel for malice...

Brandon v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0269

Justia Opinion Summary: Eric Brandon was convicted of malice murder in connection with the killing of his stepson, Alexander Koser. The evidence showed that Koser was shot several times at close range. On appeal, Brandon argued only that the tr...

Byers v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0296

Justia Opinion Summary: Christopher Byers appealed his convictions for malice murder, aggravated battery, concealing the death of another, abandonment of a dead body, and tampering with evidence, all related to the killing of Ray Walnoha. On ap...

Rice v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0314

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Malik Rice appealed his convictions for felony murder and other related crimes in connection with the shooting death of Clarence Gardenhire. Rice argued on appeal that the trial court committed plain error in f...

Lopez v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0322

Justia Opinion Summary: Fernando Lopez appealed his conviction for malice murder for the stabbing death of Corey Williams. On appeal, Lopez argued that the trial court admitted improper hearsay evidence against him: Williams’s dying statements...

Thurman v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0392

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Derrick Thurman challenged his convictions for malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Timothy Hobbs. In his sole enumeration of error, Thurman contended his trial counsel provid...

Thomas v. Georgia  
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0422

Justia Opinion Summary: Courtney Thomas was convicted by jury of malice murder and other offenses in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend, Shevonta Hardwick. Following the denial of his motion for new trial, Thomas appealed, arg...

IN THE MATTER OF EARNEST REDWINE
Date: April 5, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0684
Neuman v. Georgia  
Date: March 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1143

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2016, a second jury found Hemy Neuman guilty of the malice murder of Russell Sneiderman, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Neuman’s 2012 convictions were reversed by the Georgia Supreme Co...

Pender v. Georgia  
Date: March 15, 2021
Docket Numbers: S20A1505, S20A1506

Justia Opinion Summary: Christopher Pender and Christopher Whitaker were found by jury guilty of felony murder and other offenses in connection with the shooting death of David Scott and the assault of Eric Morris. In his appeal, Pender argued:...

Moss v. Georgia  
Date: March 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1520

Justia Opinion Summary: Jermontae Moss was convicted of felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and theft by receiving stolen property in connection with the 2011 shooting death of Jose Marin. At the time of the...

Duke v. Georgia  
Date: March 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1522

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2017, a grand jury indicted Ryan Duke for malice murder and related offenses in connection with the October 2005 death of Tara Grinstead. For approximately 17 months, Duke was represented by a public defender from the...

McGarity v. Georgia  
Date: March 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1528

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Chanze McGarity was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2013 shooting death of James Hendon. On appeal, Appellant contended the trial court erred by: (1) limiting Appellant’s cros...

Cham et al. v. ECI Management Corp. et al.  
Date: March 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20G0601

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiffs, the surviving spouse of Franklin Callens and the administrator of his estate, sued defendants, the owner and manager of an apartment complex where Callens was killed during an armed robbery. Plaintiffs allege...

Harrison v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1104

Justia Opinion Summary: Kevin Harrison was convicted by jury of murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of his wife, Heather Harrison. In the months leading up to the shooting, Heather had confided in multiple friends and...

Gialenios v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1196

Justia Opinion Summary: Robert Gialenios was convicted by jury in 2019 of malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony arising out of the shooting death of Bryan Overseth, the husband of Gialenios’ mistress. His a...

Jones v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1245

Justia Opinion Summary: Delaljujuan Jones was tried by jury and convicted of murder and other crimes in connection with a shooting that killed Stanley Hill and wounded three others. Jones appealed, contending: (1) the evidence presented at his...

Butler v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Numbers: S20A1297, S20A1298

Justia Opinion Summary: Demarco Butler and Antonio Avery were tried jointly by jury and convicted of murder and other crimes in connection with a shooting incident that killed Jordan Collins and wounded his brother, Chad. Butler appealed, conte...

Finney v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1469

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Benjamin Finney was convicted of felony murder and two firearm crimes based on the 2008 fatal shooting Gwendolyn Cole, the mother of one of Appellant’s rivals. On appeal, Appellant argued, among other things, t...

Strickland v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1476

Justia Opinion Summary: Jesse Strickland was convicted by jury of malice murder and armed robbery in connection with the death of Arthur Westberry. On appeal, Strickland contended: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict...

Pearson v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1539

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Gregory Pearson was convicted by jury on: five counts of armed robbery; two counts of burglary; one count of aggravated assault; and six counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in co...

McKelvey v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1548

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Sacorey McKelvey was convicted of murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Corey Owens. On appeal, McKelvey contended: (1) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his...

Volkova v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0006

Justia Opinion Summary: Liubov Volkova appealed her conviction for the murder of her husband, Jordan Whitson. Volkova called police to inform them her husband had been shot. When police arrived, Volkova led them to Whitson’s body, which was lyi...

Gaddy v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0334

Justia Opinion Summary: William Gaddy was convicted of felony murder and related crimes in connection with the death of Addisyn Sanders, the two- year-old daughter of Gaddy’s girlfriend, Tiffany Harris. Gaddy generally watched Addisyn while Har...

Swinson v. Georgia  
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0396

Justia Opinion Summary: Dan Toni Swinson appealed his convictions on two counts of malice murder in connection with the shooting deaths of Heber Jettie Bennett, Jr., and Eliace Marie Smith. On appeal, Swinson contended: (1) the evidence was ins...

IN THE MATTER OF L6. NICOLE BRANTLEY
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0339
IN THE MATTER OF GEORGE MICHAEL PLUMIDES
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0357
IN THE MATTER OF WILLIE GEORGE DAVIS, JR.
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0378
IN THE MATTER OF DAVENIYA FISHER
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0582
IN THE MATTER OF EVELYN A. MILLER
Date: March 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0672
Suggs v. Georgia  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1093

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Kalvin Suggs challenged his 2017 convictions for malice murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Tony Harrison. Appellant contended: (1) the evidence presented at his trial was legally i...

Lofton v. Georgia  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1101

Justia Opinion Summary: Hakim Lofton was convicted by jury of malice murder and possession of a firearm, in connection with the 2013 shooting death of Jason Walker. On appeal, Lofton challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented against...

Smith v. Georgia  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1120

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Eric Smith was convicted of the felony murder of Eric Hernandez, the aggravated assaults of Juan Vargas and Manuel Hernandez, and a firearm offense. He appealed, contending the trial court erred in limiting his...

Carston v. Georgia  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1157

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Jerry Carston was convicted of malice murder and related firearm and gang crimes after he shot and killed Quinton Williams, who had left Appellant’s gang. On appeal, Appellant argued the trial court erred by su...

Polo Golf & County Club Homeowners Assn., Inc. v. Cunard et al.  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1205

Justia Opinion Summary: At the center of this appeal was a dispute between the Polo Golf and Country Club Homeowners’ Association (the “HOA”) and Forsyth County over the validity of Section 4.2.2 of Forsyth County’s Addendum to the Georgia Stor...

Hurston v. Georgia  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1223

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Kelvin Hurston and his co-defendant Dextreion Shealey were convicted of felony murder and other crimes in connection with the gang-related shooting death of Daven Tucker. Appellant contended the trial court vio...

Champ v. Georgia  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1552

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Dekito Champ was convicted of malice murder and a firearm offense in connection with the shooting death of his former girlfriend, Jana Watson. Appellant’s sole claim on appeal was that the trial court erred by...

GWINNETT COUNTY v. CITY OF NORCROSS et al.
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S20C1464
Mims v. Georgia  
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0244

Justia Opinion Summary: Nathan Mims was convicted by jury for murder and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime for stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Naty Ortiz-Ramos, to death. His sole enumeration of error was that the evidence pres...

IN THE MATTER OF DAVID R. SICAY-PERROW
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0158
IN THE MATTER OF PATRICK A. POWELL
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0468
IN THE MATTER OF JEFFREY BULL GRABLE
Date: February 15, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0603
IN THE MATTER OF DAVID E. MORGAN III
Date: February 5, 2021
Docket Number: S18Y0821
Polo Golf & Country Club Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Cunard et al.  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1205

Justia Opinion Summary: At heart of this case was a dispute between the Polo Golf and Country Club Homeowners’ Association (the “HOA”) and Forsyth County, Georgia over the validity of Section 4.2.2 of Forsyth County’s Addendum to the Georgia St...

Kitchens v. Georgia  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1230

Justia Opinion Summary: Willie Kitchens was convicted by jury of two counts of malice murder, arson, attempted rape and other crimes in connection with the 2011 stabbing deaths of Corey Kemp and Melanie Troupe. In his sole claim of error, Appe...

Jordan v. Georgia  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1477

Justia Opinion Summary: After Travis Jordan brought an abrupt end to his murder trial by pleading guilty to felony murder, he moved to withdraw his plea prior to sentencing. The trial court denied Jordan’s motion, concluding that Jordan did not...

Henderson v. Georgia  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1571

Justia Opinion Summary: Aquillous Rayon Henderson tried by jury and convicted of malice murder and other offenses in connection with the 2016 shooting death of Timothy Hill. His amended motion for new trial was denied, and he appealed, arguing...

Hall v. Jackson  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Numbers: S20A1574, S20X1575

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2007, Matthew Jackson was convicted of 28 counts of armed robbery and other crimes. During his trial, motion for new trial proceeding, and direct appeal, in which the Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions, Jackson...

Jefferson v. Georgia  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20G0528

Justia Opinion Summary: Ted Jefferson was convicted by jury of kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery, and other offenses, for which the trial court sentenced him to life plus five consecutive years in prison. Jefferson moved for a new trial,...

Oconee County v. Cannon et al.  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S20G0584

Justia Opinion Summary: Ronald and Christy Cannon sued Oconee County, Georgia after a vehicle chase initiated by an Oconee County sheriff’s deputy ended in their daughter’s death. The trial court granted the County’s motion for summary judgment...

Kirkland v. Georgia  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0113

Justia Opinion Summary: Johnathon Kirkland appealed his convictions for malice murder and related offenses, contending the trial court erred by failing to suppress an identification of him made by means of a photo lineup. Specifically, Kirkland...

Allen v. Georgia  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0256

Justia Opinion Summary: Alfredo Allen was convicted of malice murder and other related crimes in connection with the 2015 stabbing death of Erin McKinney and the aggravated battery of Candice McKinney. On appeal, he challenged the sufficiency o...

MIDDLEBROOKS v. THE STATE
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0381
Middlebrooks v. Georgia  
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0381

Justia Opinion Summary: Deshaun Middlebrooks appealed his convictions for malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2017 shooting death of Quintavious Barber and the aggravated assault of Keundre Chappell. On appeal, Middlebrooks co...

IN THE MATTER OF WILLIAM D. THOMPSON JR.
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21Y0355
IN THE MATTER OF STEPHEN VINCENT FITZGERALD, JR.
Date: February 1, 2021
Docket Number: S21Z0449
Palmer v. Georgia  
Date: January 11, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1118

Justia Opinion Summary: Kevin Palmer was acquitted of malice murder, but convicted by jury of felony murder and other offenses in connection with the shooting death of William Whitsett. His amended motion for new trial was denied, and he appeal...

Harper v. Georgia  
Date: January 11, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1288

Justia Opinion Summary: Appellant Larry Harper, Jr. was convicted of the malice murder of his 20-year-old girlfriend, Thandiwe “Tandy” Hunt, the concealing of her death, and for tampering with evidence. Hunt wanted to leave Appellant, but whene...

Johnson v. Georgia  
Date: January 11, 2021
Docket Number: S20A1289

Justia Opinion Summary: Sharod Johnson was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with a 2010 string of armed robberies that culminated in the shooting death of David Casto. Johnson contended the trial court erred when it fai...

Nesby v. Georgia  
Date: January 11, 2021
Docket Number: S21A0207

Justia Opinion Summary: Javian Nesby appealed his convictions for malice murder and other crimes in connection with the 2017 shooting death of Jordan Morris. Nesby contended the trial court erred by conducting numerous bench conferences outside...

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