Hines v. State

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Citation740 S.E.2d 786,320 Ga.App. 854
Docket NumberNo. A12A2455.,A12A2455.
PartiesHINES v. The STATE.
Decision Date27 March 2013


Cinque Mark Axam, Riverdale, for Appellant.

Tracy Graham–Lawson, Dist. Atty., Billy J. Dixon, Elizabeth A. Baker, Asst. Dist. Attys., for Appellee.


Bridgett Marvette Hines appeals the denial of her motion for new trial following her conviction by a jury of armed robbery, aggravated assault, 1 concealing the identity of a motor vehicle, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Hines raises 16 enumerations of error on appeal, and after considering the parties' arguments, the applicable law and the record, we affirm for the reasons set forth below.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict,2 the evidence at trial showed that sometime prior to January 1, 2009, Ricky Timmons and Hines' co-defendant, Geoffrey Jupiter, decided to commit a robbery. On the night of January 1, Jupiter, Hines and her minor son 3 drove Hines' son-in-law's Mercury Marquis to Timmons' house, where they picked Timmons up and drove to the Lucky convenience store in Clayton County. Hines was driving, and in her original handwritten statement to police, she stated that Jupiter had called her earlier and offered to pay her to drive. On the way to the store, Hines tried to talk to Timmons about the robbery, but he did not really talk about it. When they arrived at the store sometime around 10:30 to 11:00 p.m., Hines and her son went inside for approximately five minutes. They returned to the car, and Hines drove to a nearby area where, according to Timmons, Hines instructed her son to get out of the car and remove the car tag. When he had done so, Hines drove back to the Lucky store and parked at the far side, away from the store. Hines then handed Timmons a gun, and Timmons and Jupiter, each carrying a gun, got out of the car, went inside the store, pointed their guns at the clerk and left the store with money and cigars. When they returned, Hines drove away.

Unbeknownst to Hines and the others, however, Officer Andrew Hammond of the Jonesboro Police Department was parked “a couple [of] football fields” away, while working speed enforcement. From this position, he had a view of most of the Lucky store and its parking lot, and he saw a Mercury Marquis go through the parking lot and stay for a minute or so. Then, it left the lot and pulled across the street into a parking space at another business. The car sat there for a minute or two and then returned to the Lucky store, driving “really slowly” across the parking lot to one of the entrances to the lot, where it stopped and the lights were turned off. Jonesboro Police Officer Mark Carpenter pulled into the Lucky store a short time later as part of his regular patrol. He saw the car parked in a far corner of the lot in a dark area.

A few minutes later, both officers saw two males run in what Carpenter described as “a full sprint” across the parking lot and jump in the car. The car pulled out of the parking lot, without its lights on, at a high rate of speed. Hammond said that it appeared as if the driver put the car in drive and “stomped the gas,” because “it shot out of the parking lot very quickly.” Carpenter immediately began following the car, with Hammond behind him, and they both noticed that the car's license plate was missing.

After the officers activated their blue lights, Hines stopped the car. Timmons and Jupiter jumped out and ran. Hammond apprehended Timmons near the scene, but Jupiter escaped.4 Hines and her son stayed in the car, and Carpenter discovered a handgun under the driver's seat in the rear passenger area at Hines' son's feet. He also discovered a BB gun laying outside the car near the front passenger door, along with a mask. Inside the car, Carpenter found cigars and approximately $2,338 in cash, laying all over the front passenger seat. He also located $448 in cash stuffed down the sleeve of Hines' son's jacket. Carpenter found the car's license plate in the middle of the back seat between where the two back seat passengers, Timmons and Hines' son, had been sitting.

Hines testified and denied any prior knowledge of the robbery. According to Hines, she picked her son up that night from his Christmas visit with his father, and they retrieved the $250 the father paid her in monthly child support from an ATM. She said that as her son was putting his things away in the trunk, he noticed that the car tag was hanging by one screw, so he removed it and put it in the back window of the car. But Hines' statement to police indicates that the tag was removed after they arrived at the Lucky store that night.

Hines testified that Jupiter called her after she picked up her son and told her that she could play the slot machine at the Lucky store for money because the people there knew him. Hines wanted to use some of her child support money to play the game. When she arrived to pick up Jupiter before heading to the store, he told her that they needed to get Timmons first, so they picked up Timmons and went to the Lucky store. Hines and her son went inside, while Timmons and Jupiter waited in the car. She bought her son an ice cream 5 and asked if she could play the game for money, but the clerk said they could not. They then left the store and returned to the car.

After they pulled out of the parking lot, Hines said that Timmons wanted some cigars, so she turned around and went back to the store. Timmons and Jupiter went inside while Hines and her son sat in the car. The men came running out of the store and got in the car. Hines testified that she did not see any weapons and did not suspect anything at that time, although her handwritten statement appears to indicate that she saw a gun before the robbery when Jupiter and Timmons got out of the car to go into the store. She denied handing Timmons a gun. As they drove away, they noticed a car following them, and when Timmons identified it as a police car, Hines said that he removed the tag from the Marquis' back window. Hines immediately stopped when the police turned on their lights. Timmons and Jupiter began throwing money out of their coat pockets, then jumped out of the car. Hines said she did not know that her son had any money in his jacket, but speculated that he might have picked up some of the money that was scattered all over the car.

1. Hines asserts that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions for armed robbery, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and concealing the identity of a motor vehicle, and thus she contends that the trial court erred in denying her motion for directed verdict. We disagree.

On appeal from a criminal conviction, the defendant no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence. Further, we neither resolve conflicts in the evidence nor assess witness credibility, but merely determine the legal sufficiency of the evidence. When an appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to uphold [her] conviction, the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

(Punctuation and footnotes citations omitted; emphasis in original.) Jordan v. State, 320 Ga.App. 265, 266, 739 S.E.2d 743 (2013). “The standard of review for the denial of a motion for a directed verdict of acquittal is the same as that for reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction.” (Citation omitted.) Pippins v. State, 263 Ga.App. 453, 453(1), 588 S.E.2d 278 (2003).

And although the evidence did not establish Hines' direct participation in the crime of armed robbery,

[a] participant to a crime may be convicted although he is not the person who directly commits the crime. A person who intentionally aids or abets in the commission of a crime or intentionally advises, encourages, hires, counsels or procures another to commit the crime may be convicted of the crime as a party to the crime. Mere presence at the scene is not sufficient to convict one of being a party to a crime, but criminal intent may be inferred from conduct before, during, and after the commission of a crime.

(Punctuation, footnote and emphasis omitted.) Jordan v. State, 281 Ga.App. 419, 422(1), 636 S.E.2d 151 (2006). See also OCGA § 16–2–21. The question of whether Hines was a party to the armed robbery in this case was for the jury to resolve. Buruca v. State, 278 Ga.App. 650, 652(1), 629 S.E.2d 438 (2006).

Further, the testimony of a single witness is generally enough to establish a fact, unless the witness, like Timmons, is an accomplice to the crime, in which case such testimony must be corroborated. See OCGA § 24–4–8. Although

[a] defendant may not be convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice[,] ... only slight evidence of a defendant's identity and participation from an extraneous source is required to corroborate the accomplice's testimony and support the verdict. Sufficient corroboration may consist of either direct or circumstantial evidence which connects the defendant with the crime, tends to show his [or her] participation therein, and would justify an inference of the guilt of the accused independently of the testimony of the accomplice.

(Citations omitted.) James v. State, 316 Ga.App. 406, 408(1), 730 S.E.2d 20 (2012). Even [t]he accused's own statement can serve to corroborate his accomplice's inculpatory testimony.” (Citations and punctuation omitted.) Id. at 408–409(1), 730 S.E.2d 20. And “whether the State presents sufficient corroboration of the accomplice's testimony is peculiarly a matter for the jury to determine.” (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Steed v. State, 273 Ga.App. 845, 848(2), 616 S.E.2d 185 (2005).6

(a) The evidence was sufficient to support Hines' conviction as a party to the crime of armed robbery. More than slight independent evidence—including...

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