539 S.E.2d 149 (Ga. 2000), S00A0989, Corza v. State

Docket Nº:S00A0989.
Citation:539 S.E.2d 149, 273 Ga. 164
Opinion Judge:HINES, Justice
Party Name:CORZA, v. THE STATE.
Attorney:Jeffrey P. Maniagli, for appellant. Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Bettieanne C. Hart, Christopher M. Quinn, Assistant District Attorneys, Thurbert E. Baker, Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Wylencia H. Monroe, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Case Date:November 20, 2000
Court:Supreme Court of Georgia

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539 S.E.2d 149 (Ga. 2000)

273 Ga. 164





In the Supreme Court of Georgia

November 20, 2000

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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HINES, Justice.

A jury found Carlos Corza guilty of felony murder, hijacking a motor vehicle, armed robbery, and aggravated assault in connection with the fatal shooting of Thomas Skinner. Corza appeals his convictions, challenging the admission of certain evidence, the refusal to excuse a juror for cause, and the effectiveness of trial counsel. Finding the challenges without merit, we affirm. 1

Around 1:30 a.m. on March 23, 1996, Corza and two friends, Nikki Bales and Amy Henry, went looking for a car to steal. Thomas Skinner drove by the three several times and then stopped. They approached Skinner and asked him to give them a ride to Little Five Points, and Skinner told them to get in. Corza sat in the front passenger seat. Skinner introduced himself to the young women, but did not say anything to Corza. When Corza entered the green Ford Bronco he had a .25 caliber automatic weapon in his jacket pocket. Skinner reached down to his side several times, and after Bales inquired about it, Skinner pulled out a pack of cigarettes and gave a cigarette to Bales. As Bales was giving Skinner directions to the group's destination, Skinner stated that he missed a turn. Corza pulled out his pistol, pointed it at Skinner's head and told him, "You sure did, now put your s--t in park." Corza himself put the Bronco in park, opened the driver's side door, and ordered Skinner to get out but Skinner "just sat there." Corza said, "M-----f----r, I said get out," and hit Skinner in the forehead with the pistol. Corza then fired four gunshots; Skinner fell to the ground. Corza got in the driver's seat, and stated, "I had to." Corza had a .44 caliber handgun in his lap. Corza began to kiss his hands and touch his forehead, which Bales took to be gang signs because Corza told her he was in a gang. Corza did not seem at all upset by the shooting; in fact, he stated that it excited him sexually. Corza, accompanied by the two women, drove [273 Ga. 165] Skinner's vehicle from the scene.

Skinner was found lying in the middle of the blood-covered road. Part of his skull was just "hanging" and brain matter was oozing from the wound. However, he was still breathing and was transported to the hospital, where he later died from multiple gunshot wounds. Two bullets had lodged in Skinner's head and a third in the base of his neck; one wound to the head was inflicted at a range of approximately 18 inches. All

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three bullets were .25 caliber and had been fired from the same weapon.

A passing bus driver witnessed the shooting. He saw the victim, who appeared unarmed, standing outside the Bronco on the driver's side, heard a gunshot and saw the victim fall to the ground. The bus driver then heard more gunshots, the driver's side door closed, and the Bronco "took off."

Duffy and another man, who were friends of Corza and the young women, were walking around town when they saw Corza, Bales, and Henry drive up in the victim's vehicle. The men got in, and Duffy asked Corza how he had obtained the Bronco. Corza replied that he had shot someone, and Duffy observed Corza with a .44 caliber handgun and a .25 caliber handgun lying in his lap. Duffy asked to be let out of the vehicle, and the others, save Corza, followed. Duffy again saw Corza later that day and Corza freely related the details of the shooting. Corza...

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