Hines v. State, 578 S.E.2d 868 (2003)

276 Ga. 491, 578 S.E.2d 868 (2003)

 

RULE:

Georgia does not recognize an inconsistent verdict rule, which permits a defendant to challenge the factual findings underlying a guilty verdict on one count as inconsistent with the findings underlying a not guilty verdict on a different count. A conviction on one count and acquittal on another related count may reflect a compromise or lenity by the jury rather than inconsistent factual conclusions.

FACTS:

Defendant was turkey hunting when he shot and killed his friend. On appeal, defendant contended that the jury's verdict was invalid because the jury could not acquit him of killing the victim by misusing a firearm, yet convict him of killing the victim by possession of the same firearm, without having made inconsistent factual findings.  Defendant moved for a new trial, which was denied. On appeal, defendant's conviction was affirmed.

ISSUE:

Was the jury's conviction of defendant proper?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Defendant's violation of the prohibition against convicted felons possessing firearms was an inherently dangerous felony that could support a felony murder conviction. Defendant admitted he had shot Wood and showed the police where he had hidden his shotgun. His son showed the police where he had hidden defendant's  hunting clothing and gear, which included unopened cans of beer. An open beer can and foam insulation wrap that belonged to defendant were found near where he had fired the fatal shot. The evidence at trial was sufficient for a reasonable trier of fact to have found defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted. Moreover, because the felon in possession of a firearm charge was an underlying felony for one of the felony murder counts, the trial court correctly denied the motion to bifurcate the possession charge from the trial of the other charges.

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