A teen who was given two life sentences for killing a pregnant woman for slapping him appealed to the state’s highest court in a last ditch effort to regain his freedom.
But on Monday the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled against him.
Mr. Loviet Nushan Edwards was 15 years old when he shot and killed a woman in Richmond County who was seven months pregnant, federal prosecutors said. The baby girl was born alive, but died shortly after.
A jury convicted the teen of the murders of both Ms. Tykiah Palmer and her unnamed baby.
The following details of the murder were obtained from federal court documents:
On Feb. 17, 2010, Mr. Edwards was playing outside with a group of friends who included Mr. Jahmel Palmer and Mr. Aaron Smith.
Jahmel and Aaron began roughhousing when Mr. Smith struck Mr. Palmer in the face. After hearing about the fight, Mr. Jahmel Palmer's pregnant sister and his aunt walked from their home nearby to check on Jahmel.
The aunt chastised Mr. Edwards for not protecting her nephew, then she, her nephew and Ms. Tykiah Palmer began to walk away.
“Edwards said something that caused Tykiah to turn around, and she slapped Edwards across his face,” prosecutors said. “In response, Edwards pulled a gun from his back pocket and shot Tykiah first in her chest, and, when she turned away, again in her back.”
Paramedics arrived and took Ms. Palmer to the Georgia Health Sciences University hospital where they performed an emergency cesarean section and delivered her baby. The baby died soon after, as did Ms. Palmer, prosecutors said.
On appeal, Mr. Edwards’ attorney argued that the trial court erred when it allowed in as evidence a statement made earlier to investigators by a witness who testified at trial for the prosecution. Her earlier statement was inconsistent with what she said at trial, and the attorney argued the court was wrong to allow the jury to hear a recording of it.
“[B]ut we disagree,” according to the opinion of the court, "'Any party, including the party calling the witness, may attack the credibility of a witness,” and “[a] witness may be impeached by contradictory statements previously made by [her] as to matters relevant to [her] testimony and to the case.’”
The high court has also rejected Mr. Edwards’ argument that the trial court erred when it admitted certain photographs of the victims, claiming they were post-autopsy photos.
“The record shows, however, that none is a post-autopsy photograph,” today’s opinion says. Furthermore, none of the photos was “unnecessarily or unfairly prejudicial, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the photographs.”
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