In State v. Simmons, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that cell phone tower evidence discovered by the defense during jury deliberations warranted a new trial.
The evidence corroborated the testimony of a defense witness and provided independent support of the defendant’s asserted alibi.
Corey Simmons was accused of robbing two men at gunpoint in downtown Atlanta. At trial, Simmons presented evidence from an alibi witness that he had been at a night club during the time the robbery occurred. After the court instructed the jury to commence their deliberations, Simmons’ attorney received information from the defendant’s cell phone company that, according to cell tower records, his phone had been used in the area of the night club at the time of the robbery.
Soon after, the jury found Simmons guilty of two counts of armed robbery. His attorney filed a motion for new trial based on the newly discovered evidence that had been obtained. The trial court granted the motion and the state appealed, arguing that the defendant was not entitled to a new trial because the cell phone records were not material and were cumulative of other evidence admitted during the trial. The Georgia Court of Appeals rejected the state’s arguments and affirmed the granting of the new trial.
In order to seek a new trial based on newly discovered evidence, the evidence must be so material that its admission would likely produce a different result at trial. Although the state argued that Simmons’ phone records only show that his phone was at a different location when the robbery occurred, the Court found that the records corroborated the testimony of Simmons’ witness who testified he was with her at a nightclub during the robbery. The Court also found that the records themselves are independent support for Simmons’ alibi claim. Therefore, the Court concluded that this evidence could have produced a different result at trial if presented to the jury.
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