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Williams v. State - 302 Ga. 474, 807 S.E.2d 350 (2017)

Rule:

Where officers on the scene testify that they did not know whether other assailants or victims remained inside the residence, and they swept the residence to make sure no one else was inside, the officers acted reasonably in conducting a protective sweep and their sweep was no more extensive than necessary to detect immediate danger.

If there is no evidence that an emergency room doctor who treated a defendant made a report that was oral or partially oral, the State is under no duty to reduce to writing a non-existent oral report, and thus, there is no violation of OCGA § 17-16-4 (a) (4), which requires timely disclosure of reports of any physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests or experiments.

Facts:

Defendant Williams was convicted of malice murder and other crimes in connection with the stabbing death of Shawn Doughty. Williams appealed asserting numerous errors during trial, to wit: 1) insufficiency of the evidence and the erroneous admission of expert testimony of defendant’s attending physician; 2) the erroneous admission of evidence seized during a search of his residence; and 3) the ineffectiveness of his trial counsel for various reasons, including his failure to seek an expert to rebut the testimony of his attending physician. 

Issue:

Did the trial court err in admitting the expert testimony of the attending emergency room physician?

Did the trial court err in denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence that was seized as a result of the officers' protective sweep of a residence?

Were the arguments of defendant sufficient to overturn his conviction?

Answer:

No. No. No.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed in part and vacated in part due to sentencing error.

Because there was no evidence the emergency room doctor who treated defendant made an oral or partially oral report, the State did not violate O.C.G.A. § 17-16-4(a)(4), as there was under no duty to reduce to writing a non-existent oral report.

The trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence, as the "protective sweep" following defendant's arrest was undertaken because the police officers did not know if others were inside the residence, and the bloody shirt and knife were in plain view during the sweep.

Trial counsel was neither ineffective for failing to impeach a neighbor with a prior murder conviction because the prior conviction was beyond the statutory 10-year time limit nor for failing to seek an expert to rebut the emergency room doctor, as defendant made no proffer such an expert existed.

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