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      Georgia Supreme Court issues ruling on convictions and double jeopardy

      Tiffany Luchin Wise's life in prison sentence with no chance of parole for the 2009 killing of 88-year-old Mabel Berry was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling.
      / Dougherty County Jail

      The Georgia Supreme Court issued two rulings Monday morning for Dougherty County murder cases.

      Tiffany Luchin Wise's life in prison sentence with no chance of parole for the 2009 killing of 88-year-old Mabel Berry was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling.

      Wise appealed her 2010 conviction saying that the trial court erred by allowing a police officer to present hearsay evidence.

      Justice David Nahmias said in the opinion that "this is clearly not a case where a police officer tried to smuggle in hearsay from eyewitnesses under the guise of explaining investigative conduct, but even assuming that the trial court should have restricted the officer's testimony, any error was harmless."

      In a separate case, the Georgia Supreme court ruled against Tracy Lashawn Smith's appeal that retrying him for murder the murder of Jerome Walden would violate his constitutional right against double jeopardy.

      Smith was convicted in December 2011 of aggravated assault and aggravated battery, but the jury was hung on the felony murder charge, which led the judge to declare a mistrial on that count. The state announced that they intended to retry Smith on the felony murder charge.

      Smith's attorney argued in the appeal that the state could not retry him for felony murder without violating the double jeopardy clause because it already prosecuted him on the underlying counts of aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

      The Supreme Court of Georgia rejected the argument, saying in the opinion that the case is controlled by the Georgia Supreme Court's 1996 decision in Rower v. State. In that case, the high court held that where the state seeks to prosecute a defendant for two offenses in a single prosecution, "one of which is included in the other, and the defendant receives a mistrial on the greater offense, the remaining conviction of the lesser offense does not bar retrial of the greater offense."

      Stay connected to MySouthWestGA.com as stories develop and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 PM. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to join in on the conversation and connect with FOX 31!
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