Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. is considering a request by an Augusta man, convicted in a 2008 home invasion that resulted in the death of a Grovetown man, for a new trial after a Monday hearing.
A jury found Patrick Antwon Booker, 23, guilty in October 2009 of burglary, armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, kidnapping, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a First Offender probationer. The jury acquitted Booker of malice murder and did not reach a verdict on the felony murder charge.
Booker and four others – Karmbi Young, Martin Napoleon Holmes, Willie Bernard Butler, and Garland Ray Pittman – were accused of killing Rickey Gibson, 33, inside his home.
Authorities say the men broke into the home Gibson shared with his girlfriend and their infant son. Gibson’s girlfriend told authorities the men held them at gunpoint, put a gun in the baby’s mouth, threatened them and shot at her before fatally shooting Gibson.
Booker’s appellate attorney, Charles Jones Jr., argued at the hearing that it was improper for Judge Blanchard to sentenced Booker to life in prison, the maximum sentence for armed robbery, because a life was taken during the commission of the crime.
“We have to respect a not guilty verdict,” Jones said. “It was potentially improper of the court to sentence him to something the jury found him not guilty of.”
Assistant District Attorney Randy Sheppard said the sentence was fair and Gibson’s death was an “aggravated circumstance” of the armed robbery.
Sheppard also said Jones was contorting the judge’s instruction to the jury about sequestering witnesses into some kind of bias. But Jones argued that the statement, given in the presence of the jury before a witness testified, bolstered the credibility of the witness.
Jones also questioned Amanda Grantham, Booker’s trial attorney, about the effects of her taking a narcotic for am abscessed tooth during the trial and why she didn’t object to other statements by the judge Jones considered prejudicial.
Blanchard said he’d review the transcripts before ruling on the motion.