The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the conviction of a man who acted as the lookout when a Houston County man was killed for his customized car in 2008.
In 2013, a Houston County jury found Stewart Brannon of Eatonton guilty of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm.
Brannon was the lookout in the Aug. 23, 2008, armed robbery and killing of Mario Smith, a maintenance worker for the Houston County Board of Education.
"We conclude the evidence in this case was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to find (Brannon) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted," the state Supreme Court justices found in their ruling.
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Justices upheld the sentence of life without the possibility of parole imposed by Superior Court Judge Katherine K. Lumsden because the life sentence was based on the malice murder conviction, according to the ruling.
The justices also found that Lumsden erred in merging the sentence for armed robbery into the felony murder charges and remanded the case back to Houston County for additional sentencing.
Co-defendant Joshua Rounsoville, of Eatonton, the convicted shooter, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the killing. He shot Smith once in the head with a 9mm pistol in a Warner Robins storage unit for Smith's customized red 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with wide rims.
Brannon drove his mother's black Ford F-150 and took Rounsoville to meet with Smith under the pretext of purchasing the car. Smith had advertised the car for sale in Autotrader magazine.
Rounsoville, who pleaded guilty to the killing, testified at Brannon's trial. After he shot Smith, Rounsoville told jurors that he drove the stolen car to Eatonton with Brannon following in the pickup.
They left the stolen vehicle at a friend's house overnight and then returned the next day. The car, which had been damaged, was stripped of its distinctive wide rim tires and ditched in the woods in Putnam County.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559, or find her on Twitter@becpurser.