Cobb v. State

Decision Date21 October 2009
Docket NumberNo. A09A1504.,A09A1504.
Citation300 Ga. App. 565,685 S.E.2d 458
PartiesCOBB v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

Herbert E. Franklin Jr., Dist. Atty., Alan C. Norton, Asst. Dist. Atty., for Appellee.

PHIPPS, Judge.

After a jury trial, William Cobb was convicted of committing numerous sexual offenses against his minor daughters. On appeal, he complains about the admission of similar transaction evidence on the ground that he had been tried and subsequently acquitted of charges that stemmed from the incidents underlying the transactions. Cobb points out that in Riley v. State,1 this court held, "Use of prior similar crimes is prohibited ... where the first trial resulted in an acquittal and the State is attempting to relitigate an issue found in the defendant's favor at the first trial."2 Because that case is inapposite and Cobb has otherwise failed to demonstrate that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the evidence,3 we affirm.

The similar transactions at issue were the bases of several charges of child molestation and incest involving another of Cobb's daughters and his niece, for which Cobb was tried and convicted.4 Those convictions, however, were overturned by this court, which further held that Cobb was entitled to a new trial "on grounds of irrelevant and prejudicial evidence infecting the verdict[s]."5 There was no determination that the evidence was insufficient as to any count.6

On appeal, Cobb states that he was not tried again for those charges, but "was afterward acquitted of the charges because [he] filed a speedy trial demand and the State failed to prosecute the case within two terms of court." He cites language in OCGA § 17-7-170(b) that

If the defendant is not tried when the demand for speedy trial is made or at the next succeeding regular court term thereafter, provided that at both court terms there were juries impaneled and qualified to try the defendant, the defendant shall be absolutely discharged and acquitted of the offense charged in the indictment or accusation.7

Cobb argues that because he was thus acquitted of the charges, the state was barred from using the underlying incidents against him as similar transactions in the instant case.

There is no merit in Cobb's argument. The Supreme Court of Georgia has instructed:

Although some jurisdictions have adopted a per se rule prohibiting any evidentiary use of independent offenses where an acquittal was obtained, this [C]ourt has not. Instead, the application of collateral estoppel requires an examination of what facts were in issue and necessarily resolved in the defendant's favor at the first trial.8

Given the circumstances under which Cobb's first case was terminated, it cannot be concluded that the facts in issue were necessarily resolved in Cobb's favor. For that reason, Cobb's reliance upon Riley is misplaced.9 And given the absence of a per se rule prohibiting the evidentiary use of the similar transaction where an acquittal was obtained, Cobb's acquittal pursuant to OCGA § 17-7-170(b) did not bar the similar transaction evidence.

Judgment affirmed.

SMITH, P.J., and BERNES, J., concur.

2. Id. at 668(1), 353 S.E.2d 598 (citation omitted).

3. See Kingsley v. State, 268 Ga.App. 729(1), 603 S.E.2d 78 (2004) (a trial court's determination that similar transaction evidence was admissible will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion).

6. Id. See generally Jones v. State, 272 Ga. 900, 904(4), 537 S.E.2d 80 (2000) (when a conviction is reversed due to insufficient evidence to support the verdict, the defendant cannot be retried without violating the...

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3 cases
  • Hamlett v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • May 8, 2019
    ...that an acquittal of similar charges does not preclude admission of said charges under Rule 404 (b). See Cobb v. State , 300 Ga. App. 565, 566-567, 685 S.E.2d 458 (2009). See also Atkins , 304 Ga. at 418-420 (2) (b) (i), 819 S.E.2d 28. Additionally, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rec......
  • Cobb v. Hart
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • April 22, 2014
    ...of his children and sentenced to life in prison plus 140 years. His conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals in Cobb v. State, 300 Ga.App. 565, 685 S.E.2d 458 (2009). The only issue raised in that appeal was the admission of similar transactions evidence at trial. In April 2010, Cobb f......
  • Cobb v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • April 13, 2022

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