A Laurens County youth who confessed to a slaying when he was 16 years old is now asking the Georgia Supreme Court to review his murder conviction and life sentence.
Demicio White contends that the evidence against him was insufficient to prove his guilt and that he was represented at trial by an incompetent lawyer in violation of his constitutional rights.
On the night of Nov. 13, 2006, Robert Derek Hazley II was shot once in the face with a .380-caliber pistol. After an investigation, police arrested White two days later and charged him with the crime, according to a case summary from the court.
Prosecutors contended that White had learned the night before that his girlfriend had walked to the store with another teen, whom White did not know. The state contended that he later shot Hazley, thinking he was the one who had been with his girlfriend.
On Nov. 15, 2006, investigators interviewed White three times over seven hours in which he gave different accounts of his actions and whereabouts. During the third interview, he confessed to the killing. His parents were not present.
In June 2007, a jury convicted him of felony murder and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Whites appeals lawyer now contends that the evidence was insufficient to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the case summary. And there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, they maintain.
The primary evidence relied upon by the state was an admission sandwiched between denials elicited from a 16-year-old child who was questioned several times while in the hands of law enforcement for seven hours without seeing his parents, the attorney argues in briefs.
He was told by his interviewers he had failed a polygraph test, that he was entitled to have his parents present but that it would not be a good idea, and that others were going to say he committed the crime.
The trial court also erred in finding that his trial attorney was not constitutionally ineffective, according to the brief. His attorney made a number of mistakes, including his failure to file notice with the court within the time required that he would present evidence showing White had an alibi for the night of the crime.
Whites appeals attorney also argues that the trial attorney was also incompetent for failing to subpoena cellphone records, which would have proven Whites location away from the crime.
The state argues the evidence was sufficient to find White guilty of felony murder, but that because his trial attorney failed to present any argument or legal citation, the point is considered abandoned under court rules.
The state also argues that Whites trial attorney was competent and effective. Although Whites trial attorney did not testify at the hearing on Whites motion for a new trial, there is strong evidence trial counsel made a strategic and calculated decision not to give notice of alibi, as there was no alibi defense.
White presented an identity defense during trial, i.e., that someone else shot the victim, the state said in its brief.
Whites trial attorney laid the groundwork that at least two other individuals had motive and could have been the shooter.