Parrish v. State, A21A1315

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtDillard, Presiding Judge.
Citation362 Ga.App. 392,868 S.E.2d 270
Parties PARRISH v. The STATE.
Docket NumberA21A1315
Decision Date18 January 2022

362 Ga.App. 392
868 S.E.2d 270

PARRISH
v.
The STATE.

A21A1315

Court of Appeals of Georgia.

January 18, 2022
Reconsideration Denied January 31, 2022
Review Denied January 31, 2022


868 S.E.2d 273

Brian Steel, Atlanta, for Appellant.

Fani T. Willis, Kevin Christopher Armstrong, Atlanta, for Appellee.

Dillard, Presiding Judge.

362 Ga.App. 392

Following trial, a jury convicted Emery Parrish on three counts of voluntary manslaughter (as a lesser-included offense for one count of murder and two counts of felony murder), aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, reckless driving, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, and possession of cocaine. On appeal, Parrish contends the trial court erred in (1) allowing him to be impeached with a statement drafted by his trial counsel, or alternatively, denying his claim that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance in drafting the statement, (2) providing a confusing jury instruction as to his justification defense, and (3) refusing to instruct the jury as to aggravated assault by the victim in connection with that defense. For the reasons set forth infra , we affirm.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,1 the record shows that on the evening of August 18, 2012, Ayokunle Lumpkin—a recent Georgia State University graduate and former soccer player for the school—went to a post-match party at 270 Milton Avenue, a house leased by several current GSU soccer players. Some time after 1:00 a.m., a few of the party's attendees were hanging out on the front porch of the house when they saw a

362 Ga.App. 393

dark-colored Ford Thunderbird speeding down the rain-soaked street, lose control, crash through a fence in the neighboring yard, and hit an SUV parked in the students’ driveway before spinning out in the front yard. The vehicle then spun its wheels for a moment, ultimately gained traction, and drove off from the yard. But after traveling a short distance down the street, the Thunderbird's damaged front bumper began dragging between the tire and pavement, forcing it to stop.

At this point, the party attendees who witnessed the crash alerted others inside the house, including Jessica Chambliss, the owner of the SUV that was struck by the Thunderbird. Chambliss, Lumpkin, and approximately ten others from the party then headed down the street to where the Thunderbird stopped and noticed the driver had exited the car and was attempting to tear off the front bumper that was impeding it. As the group approached the vehicle, the driver—later identified as Parrish—appeared disoriented. Chambliss confronted Parrish about trying to leave after hitting her SUV and informed him that she and others were calling the police. Hearing this, Parrish became agitated, exclaiming that there was no reason "to get the cops involved." Undeterred, several of the party attendees—including Lumpkin—called 911 to report the incident, while one or two others took cell-phone pictures of or wrote down the Thunderbird's license plate.

But rather than provide any information, Parrish seemed intent on leaving the scene

868 S.E.2d 274

and made a cell phone call, during which several of the party attendees heard him say that he was "in the cut by the trap" and needed to be picked up. And upon hearing that Parrish appeared to be calling friends for assistance rather than the police, Chambliss confronted him again, and he responded by elbowing her in the face, knocking her backward to the ground. Immediately, several of the party attendees intervened to separate the two, and one attendee—Rufus Thompson—engaged in a shoving match with Parrish, pushing him toward the passenger side of the vehicle. At the same time, another attendee attempted to punch Parrish, but with Thompson and others in his way, made only brushing contact. Once they were near the passenger side of the vehicle, the shoving subsided, at which point Lumpkin—who was standing near the driver's side—informed the crowd that the police were on the way. Parrish then darted back to the driver's side, leaned in to reach into the vehicle's center console, pulled out a handgun, and fired at close range into Lumpkin's chest. Then, as the party attendees scattered, Parrish fired at least two more shots before getting back into the Thunderbird and speeding away. Less than a mile from the scene of the shooting, he collided with another motorist, severely damaging

362 Ga.App. 394

that vehicle and sending it spinning off the road. Even so, Parrish continued his flight, threw the gun away at some point, and finally stopped his vehicle at the back of an apartment complex parking lot a few miles away.

Back at the scene of the shooting (after Parrish fled), Chambliss and others saw Lumpkin lying in the street with a bullet wound in the center of his chest. Several party attendees then again called 911, and Chambliss ran to Lumpkin to try to render aid. Soon thereafter, police officers and an ambulance arrived. Chambliss rode in the ambulance with Lumpkin to the hospital, but efforts to save him were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, officers at the scene began their investigation, which included interviewing the numerous party attendees. Additionally, a GSU Ph.D. student—who lived in a house just around the corner from where the party was being held—told police that she was on her front porch when she heard the sounds of an automobile accident. She also heard numerous voices, including a female asking for someone to call 911 and a responding male argue that there was no need to call the police. The Ph.D. student then went inside to get her phone and called 911 to report the accident. Then, as she walked back onto her porch, she heard gunshots, and immediately called 911 again. Seconds later, she saw a car speeding past where her street connected to Milton Avenue.

While the investigation at the scene of the shooting continued, another police officer—who had originally been dispatched to that scene—received a second dispatch, diverting him to the scene of a nearby motor vehicle hit-and-run that was believed to be connected to the shooting. There, the officer spoke with the motorist whose car had been struck by a vehicle that never stopped, and the officer observed what appeared to be debris from a Ford Thunderbird on the street. Upon concluding his interview with the motorist, the officer decided to follow a hunch—based on his past experiences working in this precinct—as to where the Thunderbird may have been abandoned; and so he proceeded to an apartment complex less than a few miles away. And indeed, at the back of the apartment complex parking lot, the officer discovered a badly damaged Ford Thunderbird with a license plate matching the number provided by several of the party attendees. Subsequently, police officers impounded the vehicle, and, in searching it, found a small bag of cocaine, a bullet shell casing, and some documents—including a fairly recent receipt from an oil change and another from a school—both bearing Parrish's name. The vehicle's tag and registration, however, indicated that it belonged to Tyrone Jackson.

362 Ga.App. 395

Parrish and Jackson were close friends, and Jackson occasionally stayed at Parrish's apartment. And over the course of the night following the shooting, Parrish sent Jackson several text messages. At approximately 5:30 a.m., Parrish sent Jackson a text message stating, "They got [the] car." Later that afternoon, Jackson called the police to report that his Thunderbird had been stolen. When

868 S.E.2d 275

police asked him who had access to the vehicle, Jackson did not mention Parrish. Later that day, when police informed Jackson that his vehicle been recovered, he seemed to express no surprise.

Less than one week later, Parrish turned himself in to police. Around this same time, Parrish's counsel provided the police with an unsigned statement, explaining that following the collision with Chambliss's SUV, Parrish tried to provide his insurance information, but the crowd of party attendees threatened and pushed him. The statement further claimed that Parrish ultimately feared for his own life and, thus, grabbed his gun and fired at a male who was trying to enter his vehicle.

Thereafter, the State charged Parrish, via indictment, with one count of murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of reckless driving, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, and one count of possession of cocaine. In the same indictment, the State charged Jackson with one count of theft by receiving (of a firearm), one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of filing a false report of a crime, and one count of hindering the apprehension of a criminal. Prior to trial, the State filed notice of its intent to introduce prior bad acts committed by Parrish, and the...

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