Hayes v. State

Decision Date04 March 2013
Docket NumberNo. S12A1742.,S12A1742.
Citation739 S.E.2d 313,292 Ga. 506
PartiesHAYES v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court


Sharon Lee Hopkins, Duluth, for appellant.

Dan W. Mayfield, Asst. Dist. Atty., Daniel J. Porter, Dist. Atty., Paula Khristian Smith, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., Clint Christopher Malcolm, Asst. Atty. Gen., Samuel S. Olens, Atty. Gen., for appellee.

HINES, Justice.

Joanna Hayes appeals her convictions and sentences for malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, which were in connection with the shooting death of her former daughter-in-law, Heather Strube (“Heather”). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.1

In her sole enumeration of error, Hayes contends that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions.

When evaluating the sufficiency of evidence, the proper standard for review is whether a rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). This Court does not reweigh evidence or resolve conflicts in testimony; instead, evidence is reviewed in a light most favorable to the verdict, with deference to the jury's assessment of the weight and credibility of the evidence. [Cits.]

Mickens v. State, 277 Ga. 627, 627–628, 593 S.E.2d 350 (2004).

The evidence presented at trial showed that Heather and Hayes's son, Steven Strube, Jr., (“Strube”) were married in 2004. In September 2007, Heather bore a son, Carson. However, the marriage deteriorated and ended in divorce, with the parents sharing custody of Carson. It was customary for Carson to be transferred from one parent to another in a certain shopping center parking lot in Gwinnett County. On Sunday, at about 5:30 p.m., April 26, 2009, Strube drove from the home he shared with Carson, Hayes, and Hayes's husband; Hayes had left some minutes before. Carson was with Strube and they arrived at the shopping center shortly before 6:00 [292 Ga. 507]p.m. and parked; several witnesses were in the area. Shortly thereafter, Heather arrived in another vehicle and parked nearby; a person wearing a dark wig and false mustache lingered in the area, separated by other vehicles from Heather's vehicle. Heather placed Carson in a child's car seat in the rear of her vehicle, Strube drove away, and the person wearing the wig and mustache walked briskly to Heather. Heather, with a surprised expression, looked at the person wearing the wig and mustache, they spoke briefly, and Heather, backing away, attempted to open the driver's door of her vehicle, but the other person closed it. Heather uttered “help” to a passing motorist, and the person wearing the wig and mustache produced a handgun from a black messenger bag, quickly put the weapon to Heather's forehead, fatally shot her, and walked into a nearby store.

Several eyewitnesses initially described the shooter as a man, but one, working with a sketch artist, realized that the shooter was, in fact, a woman. Another eyewitness identified Hayes as the shooter from a lineup, but categorized her certainty level as between 0% and 25%. Yet another eyewitness testified that, when Hayes was arrested and appeared on television, she recognized her as the shooter from Hayes's manner of walking, posture, shoulders, complexion, and nose. And, a friend of Heather's who had not witnessed the shooting testified that, when she viewed surveillance video taken of the parking lot during the shooting, she recognized Hayes from her distinctive walk that she described as “stiff legged” and with a “very wide stride.”

The day before the shooting, Myers, who was staying at a hotel adjacent to the parking lot, was outside the hotel smoking and noticed a white Ford F–150 pickup truck with an extended cab. The next day, “between 5:00 and 7:00–ish [p.m.],” Myers saw the same truck, with a suspicious looking person seated behind the steering wheel; the person was wearing a wig and mustache, and, upon realizing that Myers was watching, quickly drove the truck away, squealing the tires. Two days later, after he contacted investigating law enforcement personnel, investigators drove Myers along the street on which Hayes lived and he identified her pickup truck as the one he had seen in the parking lot.

Hayes told an investigating law enforcement officer that on the day of the shooting, she drove her pickup truck from her home between 5:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to visit her parents, who lived some distance away; she said that close to her destination, in Newnan, she stopped to purchase a drink and the receipt was in the truck. Hayes also told the investigator that Heather was not a good parent, had inherited poor parenting skills from her own mother, and was not a “good parent morally and wasn't good enough to raise her grandchild.” She also stated that she knew where Heather and Strube would exchange custody of Carson. A dark fiber was found inside the truck which was of a type that might be used in a wig. The receipt found in Hayes's truck showed a purchase at 7:19 p.m. the day of the shooting. On a subsequent Sunday, law enforcement personnel drove from the scene of the shooting to the restaurant shown on the receipt, leaving at...

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151 cases
  • Hill v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • June 25, 2021
    ...deference to the jury's assessment of the weight and credibility of the evidence.(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Hayes v. State , 292 Ga. 506, 739 S.E.2d 313 (2013). So viewed, the evidence shows that law enforcement officers lawfully searched a mobile home in connection with "an inves......
  • Reed v. The State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • September 7, 2022
    ...favorable to the verdict, with deference to the jury's assessment of the weight and credibility of the evidence." Hayes v. State , 292 Ga. 506, 506, 739 S.E.2d 313 (2013) (citations and punctuation omitted). Reed argues that the evidence against him was insufficient because it rested only o......
  • Fleming v. State, S19A0116
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 24, 2019
    ...to the jury’s assessment of the weight and credibility of the evidence." (Punctuation and citation omitted.) Hayes v. State , 292 Ga. 506, 506, 739 S.E.2d 313 (2013). See also OCGA § 16-2-21 (party to a crime); Parks v. State , 272 Ga. 353, 354-355, 529 S.E.2d 127 (2000). 2. Next, Fleming a......
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    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • June 29, 2022
    ...deference to the jury's assessment of the weight and credibility of the evidence.(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Hayes v. State , 292 Ga. 506, 739 S.E.2d 313 (2013). As outlined below, the State introduced evidence showing Oliver's long history of harassing and stalking the mother of h......
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