The appellant, Billy Ray Rollins, was tried and convicted of one count of malice murder and two counts of aggravated assault after shooting Melvin Harris, Donald Gainey, and Tommy Lee Cummings during a confrontation between rival gangs at a Krystal restaurant in Macon. 1
Melvin Harris later died from the gunshot wound. At trial, the appellant admitted shooting the three victims, but claimed that he shot in self-defense. 2
As part of its pre-trial investigation, the police took written statements from Montrese and Napoleon Lawson, who are brothers and close friends of the appellant as well as members of the same gang, and who had been present when the appellant shot the victims. At trial, the state called the Lawson brothers as witnesses. When they testified contrary to their written statements, the state brought forth the statements, and questioned the witnesses about the disparities between their statements and their testimony. 3
The appellant argues that the trial court erred by allowing the prosecution "impermissibly liberal impeachment and cross-examination" of the witnesses, in violation of OCGA 24-9-81
, and in failing to grant a mistrial on that ground.
1. "[A] prior inconsistent statement of a witness who takes the stand and is subject to cross-examination is admissible as substantive evidence, and is not limited in value only to impeachment purposes." Gibbons v. State, 248 Ga. 858
, 862 (286 SE2d 717
) (1982). A party may impeach its own witness with a prior inconsistent statement without any showing of entrapment or surprise, Ranger v. State, 249 Ga. 315
, 318 (290 SE2d 63
) (1982); Davis v. State, 249 Ga. 309
, 314 (290 SE2d 273
) (1982). Accord Williams v. State, 253 Ga. 690
, 693 (324 SE2d 440
) (1985); Smith v. State, 253 Ga. 536 (322 SE2d 492) (1984)
; Sinkfield v. State, 201 Ga. App. 284 (411 SE2d 68) (1991)
. Both Napoleon Lawson and Montrese Lawson took the stand for the state and were available for cross-examination by the defense. The witnesses had ample "opportunity to explain or deny the prior contradictory statement[s]." Ranger, 249 Ga. at 318. Therefore, the trial court did not err either by allowing the prosecution to question Napoleon and Montrese Lawson about their written statements, or by refusing to grant a mistrial.
2. Considered in the light most favorable to the verdict, we find the evidence sufficient to permit a rational trier of fact to find the appellant guilty of malice murder and aggravated assault beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, t443 U. S. 307 (99 SC 2781, 61 LE2d 560) (1979).
Willis B. Sparks III, District Attorney, Charles H. Weston, Assistant District Attorney, Michael J. Bowers, Attorney General, Susan V. Boleyn, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Mary H. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.