A jury convicted Eugene McDuffie of malice murder and sentenced him to life in prison in May 2006. He’s accused of shooting and killing Jurrell Clark at the Gregg Apartment Complex in 2004. He appealed his case to the Georgia Supreme Court Monday.
McDuffie’s attorney, R. Gary Spencer, said McDuffie’s constitutional rights were violated because his trial attorney didn’t properly challenge the state’s case against him in more than one way. Spencer argued the defense attorney during the trial didn’t present all of the evidence about the witnesses. Spencer maintained there were inconsistencies in the witnesses testimony that would prove McDuffie’s defense: he was not present at the time of the shooting. Spencer also claimed the prosecutor made a racist remark during her closing argument.
"These men value nifty rides and gold teeth and that’s part of their culture. We believe that there’s just no place for that in a criminal trial," explained Spencer.
The district attorney’s office argued the defense attorney gave valid reasons for not allowing certain witnesses to testify at the trial and said McDuffie elected not to testify during the trial. Spencer claimed the defense attorney advised him not to testify because of a prior conviction. Prosecution officials add there was no objection to the closing argument comment at the time of the trial.
"When questioned about that, she explained that she believed that there was not a improper motive for saying what was said," explained Tim Vaugn, the Oconee Judicial Circuit District Attorney.
The Georgia Supreme Court has six months to make a decision on this appeal.
A Telfair County man is appealing his malice murder conviction and life prison sentence to the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday.
In May 2006, a Telfair County jury convicted Eugene McDuffie of shooting and killing Jurrell Clark on August 18, 2004, according to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Officials said a McRae Police Officer Kary Sumate heard gunshots while standing outside of the police station. Sumate was heading in the direction of the gunshots and saw a gold Jeep Cherokee stopped in the middle of the road with three men standing around talking to the driver. Officials identified the driver as McDuffie. The car drove off, but another officer stopped it later.
Officers found Clark’s body in the yard of the Gregg Apartment Complex. Witnesses told law enforcement McDuffie walked up to the home and Clark began yelling at McDuffie claiming McDuffie’s father had stolen his merchandise. Records say merchandise is slang for crack cocaine. McDuffie and Clark continued arguing. Witnesses said Clark told McDuffie he had a gun and while Clark went to go get it, McDuffie shot Clark. Previous reports say McDuffie tried to drag Clark’s body around the back of the apartment complex, but it was too heavy.
Georgia Supreme Court Officials say McDuffie’s attorney argues his constitutional rights were violated because his trial attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel in multiple ways. The attorney also argues McDuffie was denied his due process of law when the prosecutor made racist remarks during her closing argument. McDuffie’s attorney said McDuffie must be given a new trial because his trial attorney didn’t properly challenge the State’s case against him.
The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to hear this case Monday.