Graham v. State

Decision Date14 August 2017
Docket NumberS17A0702.
Citation804 S.E.2d 113
Parties GRAHAM v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Matthew K. Winchester, LAW OFFICES OF MATTHEW K. WINCHESTER, 1800 Peachtree Street, NW, Suite 430, Atlanta, Georgia 30309, for Appellant.

Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula Khristian Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Aimee F. Sobhani, Assistant Attorney General, Christopher M. Carr, Attorney General, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, 40 Capitol Square, S.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30334, Deborah D. Wellborn, A.D.A., Shelly Dyanne Faulk, A.D.A., Sherry Boston, District Attorney, DEKALB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, 556 N. McDonough Street, Suite 700, Decatur, Georgia 30030, for Appellee.

Blackwell, Justice.

DeSean Lamar Graham was tried by a DeKalb County jury, and he was convicted of the murder of Carlos Daniels and the unlawful possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Graham appeals, contending that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred when it refused to charge the jury on voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense. Upon our review of the record and briefs, we see no error, and we affirm.1

1. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence shows that on July 9, 2012, Graham drove his girlfriend and his eight-year-old nephew to the pool at the Jasmine at Winter's Chapel Apartments in DeKalb County. Graham lived at Cornerstone Apartments, which is adjacent to the Jasmine.

Graham became involved in a verbal altercation at the pool with Daniels, a resident at the Jasmine, and Graham threatened to shoot Daniels. Soon thereafter, Graham—who was "very angry"—left the pool with his girlfriend and nephew, and he drove them to his apartment. Graham left his girlfriend and nephew (and his car) at Cornerstone, took off on foot, and was gone for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, Daniels was also upset by the confrontation at the pool, but he spoke to the property manager at the Jasmine, calmed down, and walked off in the direction of his apartment. A few minutes later, Daniels was fatally shot in the parking lot outside his apartment.

When Graham returned to his apartment at Cornerstone, his girlfriend observed that he was out of breath and that he threw up in the bathroom. Graham told his girlfriend that he shot "the dude at the pool" because "the dude" had "disrespected his family." He also provided several details about the shooting, including that he continued firing his weapon at Daniels after he fell to the ground and that he fled the scene by running through the "cut," which was a wooded trail between the Jasmine and Cornerstone. For several months, Graham's girlfriend told no one about the confession.

Police investigators initially were unable to identify or locate the man who had been involved in the poolside confrontation with Daniels. But Graham's girlfriend eventually saw a report that police were "searching for a man who shot and killed another man after an altercation at a swimming pool at ... [t]he Jasmine at Winter's Chapel Apartments." She told a friend about Graham's confession, the police were notified, and Graham was arrested. Graham admitted to the poolside altercation with Daniels, but he denied that he returned to the Jasmine to shoot him.

On appeal, Graham contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, and he relies upon OCGA § 24–8–823, which provides that "[a] confession alone, uncorroborated by any other evidence, shall not justify a conviction." But while the State may not rely solely on a defendant's confession, "no specific manner of corroboration [of the confession] is required, and corroboration in any particular is sufficient." McMullen v. State, 300 Ga. 173, 174–75 (1), 794 S.E.2d 118 (2016). Here, in addition to the testimony from Graham's girlfriend about his behavior before and after the shooting, the confession also was sufficiently corroborated by an eyewitness, who testified that "after [Daniels] hit the ground [from the first shot, the shooter] ... reached over him, and shot him [again]" before running off, and by two eyewitnesses who testified that the shooter ran toward a wooded trail that cut through from the Jasmine to Cornerstone.2

Graham points to the lack of physical evidence connecting him to the crime, the failure of any eyewitness to identify him, and his assertion that his girlfriend was not a credible witness. But the State "was not required to produce any physical evidence," Johnson v. State, 296 Ga. 504, 505 (1), 769 S.E.2d 87 (2015), and, as we have explained many times, "it is the role of the jury to resolve conflicts in the evidence and to determine the credibility of witnesses, and the resolution of such conflicts adversely to the defendant does not render the evidence insufficient." Merritt v. State, 292 Ga. 327, 330 (1), 737 S.E.2d 673 (2013) (citation omitted). Viewing all the evidence in the light most...

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    ...and the resolution of such conflicts adversely to the defendant does not render the evidence insufficient." Graham v. State , 301 Ga. 675, 677 (1), 804 S.E.2d 113 (2017) (citation and punctuation omitted). Moreover, Reed's arguments fail to take into account the remainder of the evidence pr......
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