Anderson v. State, S17A0894.

CourtSupreme Court of Georgia
Writing for the CourtBenham, Justice.
Citation805 S.E.2d 47
Parties ANDERSON v. The STATE.
Decision Date13 September 2017
Docket NumberS17A0894.

302 Ga. 74
805 S.E.2d 47

ANDERSON
v.
The STATE.

S17A0894.

Supreme Court of Georgia.

Decided: September 13, 2017


Marcia Gail Shein, LAW FIRM OF SHEIN & BRANDENBURG, 2392 North Decatur Road, Leigh Stevens Schrope, LAW FIRM OF SHEIN & BRANDENBURG, 2393 N. Decatur Rd., Decatur, Georgia 30033, for Appellant.

Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula Khristian Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Christopher M. Carr, Attorney General, Elizabeth Michelle Haase, Assistant Attorney General, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, 40 Capitol Square, S.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30334, Andrew J. Ekonomou, THE LAMBROS FIRM, LLC, 2970 Clairmont Road, Suite 240, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, Jacquelyn Lee Johnson, District Attorney, BRUNSWICK JUDICIAL CIRCUIT DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, P.O. Box 369, Woodbine, Georgia 31569, for Appellee.

Benham, Justice.

James Edwin Anderson was found guilty of felony murder and other crimes arising out of the shooting death of Franklin Ron Burch.1 For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence presented at trial shows that Burch was dating appellant's daughter-in-law Brittany Anderson, who was involved in a divorce proceeding with appellant's son, Edwin Anderson, Jr. Several weeks before the shooting, after learning that Ms. Anderson was seeing Burch, appellant called his daughter-in-law while intoxicated and left voice mail messages in which he threatened Burch, and those messages were played to the jury. On the day of the shooting, appellant's son exchanged angry words with Burch when he went by Burch's house in the afternoon to pick up his five-year-old son, after which Burch got into his vehicle and chased Anderson, Jr., down the road where more angry words were exchanged. Appellant and his wife were in St. Simon's Island on a brief vacation, and Anderson, Jr., telephoned his mother to tell her he was upset by the encounter and wanted to bring his son to join his parents and get away from the situation. While waiting for Anderson, Jr., to arrive, appellant and his wife proceeded to a restaurant for dinner. When Anderson, Jr., had not yet arrived when they returned to their hotel room, appellant informed his wife that he was going back home to Wayne County to have a talk with Burch. Appellant testified at trial that he first stopped by his own home to retrieve guns and ammunition out of his locked gun safe because he did not know where his son was and he was concerned that his son might take the guns and either harm himself or others. He admitted, however, that he could have simply taken the key to the locked safe.

Appellant loaded all five of his firearms into the covered bed of his truck and started driving toward where he believed Burch lived. At some point he telephoned his daughter and asked her to look up Burch's address. It was well after dark when he drove by that address and while he saw what he believed to be his daughter-in-law's car in the driveway, he could tell the house was unoccupied. Appellant

805 S.E.2d 50

pulled off to the side of the road. Anderson, Jr., having learned that his father had driven back to Wayne County to find Burch, called appellant and asked him not to go to Burch's house, but appellant told his son that he needed to "resolve this." Shortly thereafter, appellant saw a truck that he believed to be Burch's pull into the driveway of Burch's house. Appellant had already retrieved the rifle from the back of the truck and placed it on the front seat, and he had placed a Colt .45 semiautomatic in the pocket of the passenger door. Appellant knew the rifle had one round in it, and although several other rifle cartridges were found in the cup holder of his truck after he turned himself in, appellant denied they had ever been loaded into the rifle. Appellant pulled his vehicle into Burch's driveway and saw Ms. Anderson inside the open garage near the door to the house. Appellant grabbed his rifle, went to the front of his vehicle, and saw Burch standing near the garage. Appellant testified he took the rifle with a scope with him as he exited the vehicle, but not one of the handguns, because the rifle would be easier for Burch to see in the dark.

According to appellant, he wanted to have the rifle with him as a "symbol" to keep Burch from possibly "jumping on me," since he knew Burch was younger and in better physical condition. In a recorded statement appellant gave to the investigator who interviewed him when he turned himself in later that evening, he repeatedly stated that he took the rifle out of the truck because he wanted to scare Burch but that he had no intention of harming him. He loaded one bullet in the rifle thinking that he might shoot into the air if necessary to scare Burch.

In the recorded statement, appellant stated that when he saw Burch coming at him after he exited his truck, he decided to strike him in the stomach with the barrel of the rifle so that Burch would bend forward and appellant could then then tell him that he just wanted to talk. In that statement, appellant claimed the two men did not struggle over the rifle but that, instead, it simply went off while he had the barrel pressed against Burch's stomach. He told the investigator he had the rifle repaired in the 1990s because it had misfired and he believed that may have been what had happened on the night in question because he had fired the weapon only a few times in the many years he owned it. At trial, however, appellant testified that when Burch came toward him Burch reached for the rifle and the two men engaged in a "[t]ug of war," as Burch tried to "tear it out of my hands." At that point, according to appellant, the gun discharged. He was not sure what had happened, or whose hand was on the trigger when the gun went off, but he saw blood "everywhere" and panicked, got into his truck, and drove away.

Ms. Anderson testified at trial that she was inside the open garage when appellant pulled into Burch's driveway, and when she saw appellant get out of his truck "toting" a long gun at his side she hollered, "No, Big Edwin [the name she called appellant], no." She remembered Burch's hands going up, and as appellant walked around the front of the truck steadily approaching Burch, Burch said, "No, man, no." She saw Burch take maybe two steps back and then she saw him bent over with his hand on the barrel of the gun. She heard the gun go off, after which Burch slumped to the ground. On cross-examination, Ms. Anderson acknowledged that on the night of the shooting the investigating officer asked her if there had been a struggle and she had responded affirmatively, but at trial she rejected defense counsel's characterization that a "struggle" ensued between appellant and the victim over the gun. Instead, she explained that there was never a fight over the gun, but that she saw Burch bent over with his hands on the end of the barrel as the gun was pressed into his stomach.

Emergency medical personnel were called and arrived at the scene, as did the Screven Police Chief. Efforts to revive Burch were unsuccessful and he died at the scene. After speaking by telephone with his wife and daughter, appellant turned himself in to the authorities and gave the statement that was recorded. Pursuant to a warrant to search appellant's truck, the agent who took appellant's statement found a .308–caliber rifle and four other firearms, along with four .308–caliber cartridges and other ammunition. DNA testing confirmed that blood found on

805 S.E.2d 51

the driver-side tire was Burch's. The forensic pathologist who conducted an autopsy of Burch's body testified at trial that Burch died from a gunshot wound at near contact range to the abdomen, and that parallel scrapes appearing on the victim's chest were the result of the barrel of the gun and the gun scope scraping over Burch's skin. He also identified an abrasion on the victim's left lower abdomen. Firearms testing confirmed that the metal jacket recovered from Burch's abdomen during the autopsy was fired from the rifle found in appellant's truck.

1. Although appellant does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the convictions, this Court regularly conducts an examination of the record to determine the legal sufficiency of the evidence in murder cases. We conclude the evidence adduced at trial and summarized above was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia , 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B), 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).

2. Appellant asserts the trial court erred in denying his motion for new trial because during voir dire one of the jurors, who is identified in this opinion by his initial "H.," improperly concealed his connection to the case and his bias toward the victim. Appellant asserts a defendant is entitled to a new trial based on juror misconduct if the defendant is able to demonstrate that "(1) the juror failed to answer honestly a material question on voir dire and (2) a correct response would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause." See Glover v. State , 274 Ga. 213, 214 (2), 552 S.E.2d 804 (2001). The problem with that argument is that the record does not demonstrate that H. failed to give honest answers to voir dire questions.

(a) During voir dire, H. answered all questions...

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6 practice notes
  • Tyson v. State, S21A0774
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • October 5, 2021
    ...would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Anderson v. State , 302 Ga. 74, 77 (2), 805 S.E.2d 47 (2017). See also Glover v. State , 274 Ga. 213, 214 (2), 552 S.E.2d 804 (2001).3 Here, Tyson has not shown that the juror in question conce......
  • Fleming v. State, S19A0116
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 24, 2019
    ...failure of the trial court to rebuke the prosecutor contributed to the verdict. See 306 Ga. 244 Anderson v. State , 302 Ga. 74 (6), 805 S.E.2d 47 (2017).5 For these same reasons, we conclude that the trial court did not deprive Fleming of a fair trial by not declaring a mistrial sua sponte.......
  • Tyson v. State, S21A0774
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • October 5, 2021
    ...would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Anderson v. State, 302 Ga. 74, 77 (2) (805 S.E.2d 47) (2017). See also Glover v. State, 274 Ga. 213, 214 (2) (552 S.E.2d 804) (2001).[3] Here, Tyson has not shown that the juror in question con......
  • Taylor v. State, S18A0038
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • May 7, 2018
    ...nor any alleged failure of the trial court to comply with OCGA § 17-8-75, contributed to the verdict." Anderson v. State, 302 Ga. 74, 85, 805 S.E.2d 47 (2017). See also Ware v. State, 302 Ga. 792 (2), 809 S.E.2d 762 (2018). 4. Finally, Taylor contends that Count 6 of his indictment charging......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Tyson v. State, S21A0774
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • October 5, 2021
    ...would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Anderson v. State , 302 Ga. 74, 77 (2), 805 S.E.2d 47 (2017). See also Glover v. State , 274 Ga. 213, 214 (2), 552 S.E.2d 804 (2001).3 Here, Tyson has not shown that the juror in question conce......
  • Fleming v. State, S19A0116
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 24, 2019
    ...failure of the trial court to rebuke the prosecutor contributed to the verdict. See 306 Ga. 244 Anderson v. State , 302 Ga. 74 (6), 805 S.E.2d 47 (2017).5 For these same reasons, we conclude that the trial court did not deprive Fleming of a fair trial by not declaring a mistrial sua sponte.......
  • Tyson v. State, S21A0774
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • October 5, 2021
    ...would have provided a valid basis for a challenge for cause." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Anderson v. State, 302 Ga. 74, 77 (2) (805 S.E.2d 47) (2017). See also Glover v. State, 274 Ga. 213, 214 (2) (552 S.E.2d 804) (2001).[3] Here, Tyson has not shown that the juror in question con......
  • Taylor v. State, S18A0038
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • May 7, 2018
    ...nor any alleged failure of the trial court to comply with OCGA § 17-8-75, contributed to the verdict." Anderson v. State, 302 Ga. 74, 85, 805 S.E.2d 47 (2017). See also Ware v. State, 302 Ga. 792 (2), 809 S.E.2d 762 (2018). 4. Finally, Taylor contends that Count 6 of his indictment charging......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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