Reese v. State

Decision Date08 November 2004
Docket NumberNo. A04A1629.,A04A1629.
Citation270 Ga. App. 522,607 S.E.2d 165
PartiesREESE v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Leonard Parks, Valpey & Parks, Gainesville, for Appellant.

Jason Deal, Northeastern Judicial Circuit, Gainesville, Richard Vandever, Assistant District Attorney, for Appellee.

MILLER, Judge.

Joe Clayton Reese appeals from a conviction for voluntary manslaughter on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and that the trial court erred in its handling of the jury. We find no error and therefore affirm.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the evidence showed that Reese became involved in an altercation between his father and mother. When his father began throwing rocks at the family chickens, Reese made him stop by holding him in a headlock and by the nose. Reese then went into the house, where his mother was. Reese's brother arrived, becoming angry when he learned of the altercation between Reese and their father, and said that he had warned Reese that if he ever touched their father, he would kill him. Reese, who now had a rifle, replied, "I didn't hurt him. I just put him in a headlock. I promise you." Both the mother and a stepbrother tried to calm Reese's brother, but he started up the front porch steps toward Reese. The mother backed Reese into a corner of the porch and moved toward the brother, who knocked her aside. Reese shot his brother eight times; he died minutes later. Reese was charged with murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault. He was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He now appeals on three grounds: that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court improperly dismissed a juror, and that an instruction on self-defense was improperly given.

On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, with the defendant no longer enjoying a presumption of innocence. Williams v. State, 261 Ga.App. 793, 794(1), 584 S.E.2d 64 (2003). We neither weigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only whether the evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to find the defendant guilty of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).

1. Reese first argues that because there was no evidence that he was so influenced or excited that he reacted passionately rather than simply in an attempt to defend himself, the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict of voluntary manslaughter. See Yates v. State, 274 Ga. 312, 316-17(3), 553 S.E.2d 563 (2001). We disagree.

It is true that if the State's evidence fails to support a guilty verdict on either a murder charge or the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter, the conviction must be reversed. See State v. Clay, 249 Ga. 250, 251(1), 290 S.E.2d 84 (1982). It is no less true, however, that a jury instructed on voluntary manslaughter may convict a defendant of that charge even when the evidence does not involve the law of voluntary manslaughter, so long as that evidence demands a verdict of murder. Thompkins v. State, 180 Ga.App. 473, 474(1), 349 S.E.2d 768 (1986); Varnum v. State, 125 Ga.App. 57, 62(1), 186 S.E.2d 485 (1971); see also Robinson v. State, 109 Ga. 506, 507, 34 S.E. 1017 (1900). Here, there was evidence to support the primary charge of murder, since Reese shot an unarmed man eight times with a rifle. Of course, the jury could have found that Reese did so under the reasonable apprehension that his life was in danger, since the mother testified that the victim ran at him with a "shiny" object in his clenched fist. This jury did not make that judgment, however, perhaps because the object the mother took to be a knife was in fact only a set of keys. We will not disturb their verdict where, as here, the defendant did not object to a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter, and where a rational trier of fact could have found that he did not act in self-defense. See Thompkins, supra, 180 Ga.App. at 474(1),349 S.E.2d 768; Clay, supra, 249 Ga. at 253(1),290 S.E.2d 84.

2. Reese...

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175 cases
  • Hargrove v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • September 8, 2021
    ...in the light most favorable to the verdict, with the defendant no longer enjoying a presumption of innocence." Reese v. State , 270 Ga. App. 522, 523, 607 S.E.2d 165 (2004). "We neither weigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only whether, after viewing the ......
  • Neal v. State, S11A1663.
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • February 27, 2012
    ...that instruction is not harmful, even when the exceptions described by subsection (b) do not apply. [Cit.]” Reese v. State, 270 Ga.App. 522, 524(3), 607 S.E.2d 165 (2004). See also Lee v. State, 265 Ga. 112, 113–114(3)(a), 454 S.E.2d 761 (1995); Jolley v. State, 254 Ga. 624, 628(4), 331 S.E......
  • Merritt v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • November 20, 2014
    ...evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, with the defendant no longer enjoying a presumption of innocence.” Reese v. State, 270 Ga.App. 522, 523, 607 S.E.2d 165 (2004) (citation omitted). We neither weigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only wh......
  • Croft v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • October 23, 2018
    ...in the light most favorable to the verdict, with the defendant no longer enjoying a presumption of innocence." Reese v. State , 270 Ga. App. 522, 523, 607 S.E.2d 165 (2004). We neither weigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only whether, after viewing the e......
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1 books & journal articles
  • In Defense of Voir Dire
    • United States
    • State Bar of Georgia Georgia Bar Journal No. 17-1, August 2011
    • Invalid date
    ...could not presume the defendant was innocent). [63] Thorpe v. State, 285 Ga. 604, 608, 678 S.E.2d 913, 919 (2009). [64] Reese v. State, 270 Ga. App. 522, 524, 607 S.E.2d 165, 167(2004). [65] Bowens v. State, 116 Ga. App. 577, 578, 158 S.E.2d 420, 421 (1967) (citations and punctuation omitte......

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