Romaine v. State, 012121 GACA, A20A2002

Docket NºA20A2002
Opinion JudgePER CURIAM.
Party NameROMAINE v. THE STATE.
AttorneyAppellant Mr. Tracy S. Drake Appellee Hon. Patsy A. Austin-Gatson Appellee Mr. Daniel J. Porter Appellee Mr. DANIEL PAUL SANMIGUEL
Judge PanelMILLER, P. J., MERCIER, J., and SENIOR APPELLATE JUDGE PHIPPS
Case DateJanuary 21, 2021
CourtCourt of Appeals of Georgia

ROMAINE

v.

THE STATE.

No. A20A2002

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Second Division

January 21, 2021

Superior Court Gwinnett County: Case Number: 18B00249 Hon. Tracey D. Mason, Judge Appealed Order: January 8, 2020

Appellant Mr. Tracy S. Drake

Appellee Hon. Patsy A. Austin-Gatson

Appellee Mr. Daniel J. Porter

Appellee Mr. DANIEL PAUL SANMIGUEL

MILLER, P. J., MERCIER, J., and SENIOR APPELLATE JUDGE PHIPPS

PER CURIAM.

Following a bench trial, Durell George Romaine1 was convicted of one count of armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of possession of a fire arm during the commission of a felony. Prior to trial, Romaine filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the police officer who stopped him after the robbery lacked reasonable suspicion. The trial court denied Romaine's motion, and he now appeals the denial of his motion to suppress. Finding no error, we affirm.

When reviewing a trial court's decision on a motion to suppress, this court's responsibility is to ensure that there was a substantial basis for the decision. The evidence is construed most favorably to uphold the trial court's findings and judgment, and the trial court's findings on disputed facts and credibility are adopted unless they are clearly erroneous. Further, since the trial court sits as the trier of fact, its finding sare analogoustoa jury verdict and will not be disturbed if there is any evidence to support them.

Stroud v. State, 286 Ga.App. 124, 125 (1) (648 S.E.2d 476) (2007). "An appellate court determining whether a search was lawful may consider all relevant evidence of record, including that adduced at a pretrial suppression hearing and at trial." Id. The trial court's application of the law to undisputed facts is subject to de novo review. Thompson v. State, 289 Ga.App. 661, 661 (658 S.E.2d 122) (2007).

Viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's findings and judgment, the evidence adduced at the suppression hearing and at the bench trial on stipulated facts showed that on November 3, 2017, a young man dressed in gray sweatpants, a gray jacket, and a black face covering entered a GameStop store in Peachtree Corners. He pointed a black semiautomatic firearm at a customer and directed the store clerk to empty two separate cash registers. The robbery was captured on surveillance video. During the robbery, the clerk gave the assailant a cash bundle with a tracker in it, and when the robber fled the store, the tracker was activated.

Information about the robbery was broadcast to local police, including the tracker's GPS location, which was emitted in real time. Police also issued a "be on the lookout alert" for the robber, which included the suspect's age and race and that he was wearing gray sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt. Shortly after the robbery, the tracker's movements slowed at the corner of Medlock Bridge Road and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Norcross, and several officers converged there. On that corner are several businesses, including a gas station, a restaurant, and a hotel.

One of the officers broadcast over the radio that he observed an individual who fit the suspect's description walking behind the restaurant toward the hotel., Officer Marcus Sales of the Norcross Police Department heard the broadcast and drove to the rear of the hotel to stop the possible suspect. Officer Sales saw no pedestrians, but he did see a Toyota backing out of a parking space.2No other vehicles were in motion.

Officer Sales stopped the Toyota and made contact with Romaine, who was driving. Romaine was wearing gray sweatpants and matched the general description of...

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