Man serving life sentence granted new trial by Georgia Supreme Court

Quantavious Grier was convicted of felony murder, armed robbery and other charges related to the shooting death of James Yarborough in 2007.

Credit: File photo

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Quantavious Grier was convicted of felony murder, armed robbery and other charges related to the shooting death of James Yarborough in 2007.

Credit: File photo

A Georgia man serving a life sentence after he was convicted of murder in 2010 was granted a new trial by the state Supreme Court this week.

Quantavious Grier, 30, of Atlanta, was convicted of felony murder, armed robbery and other charges related to the shooting death of James Yarborough in 2007. The conviction was based largely on the testimony of Rimion Rawlings, a friend of Grier’s at the time of the incident. Rawlings testified against Grier after he was granted immunity from prosecution by Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

Under Georgia law, facts of a trial can be established by a single witness in many cases, but in felony cases in which the witness is also considered an accomplice, the accomplice’s testimony must be corroborated by other evidence.

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In the 2010 trial that resulted in Grier’s conviction, Howard argued that Rawlings was not an accomplice. Grier appealed, and a higher court determined that Rawlings was, in fact, an accomplice and therefore his testimony was insufficient to convict Grier.

In the facts of the case established by the original trial, Rawlings and a friend, Darius Jordan, offered a ride to Yarborough and his nephew, Kenneth Kaiser, who were walking together to a check cashing store. The two men walking were strangers to Rawlings and Jordan, but they accepted the ride and cashed the check. After they had cash on hand, they bought drugs from Jordan and drove around for a while.

Jordan then drove to Grier’s mother’s house, where the robbery took place. A man approached the car with a gun and robbed Yarborough and Kaiser of the drugs and cash. Yarborough then attempted to charge the robber but was shot in the process. The shooter, along with Rawlings and Jordan, left the scene before police responded. Yarborough was taken to the hospital but died shortly after.

In the original trial, Kaiser gave a description of the gunman, but he never identified Grier in a lineup. Grier’s attorney argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict his client, while Howard argued that Rawlings should be considered a witness rather than an accomplice.

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision to grant a new trial. However, Grier also filed a cross-appeal against the state arguing that the evidence in the original trial was insufficient to convict him in the first place. The Supreme Court upheld the verdict, leaving Grier to continue serving his life sentence while he awaits a new trial.

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