Wright v. State

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to modification resulting from motions for reconsideration under Supreme Court Rule 27, the Court’s reconsideration, and editorial revisions by the Reporter of Decisions. The version of the opinion published in the Advance Sheets for the Georgia Reports, designated as the “Final Copy,” will replace any prior version on the Court’s website and docket. A bound volume of the Georgia Reports will contain the final and official text of the opinion. In the Supreme Court of Georgia Decided: August 9, 2022 S22A0588. WRIGHT v. THE STATE. ELLINGTON, Justice. On February 7, 2020, Shakur Wright pleaded guilty to the malice murder of Benjamin Thompson and to other related offenses in the Superior Court of Fulton County. 1 Ten days after sentencing, 1 On June 22, 2018, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Wright and his co-defendant, Quatez Clark, for malice murder (Count 1), felony murder (Counts 2-4), armed robbery (Count 5), aggravated assault (Counts 6-7), criminal attempt to purchase marijuana (Count 8), and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (Count 9). On February 7, 2020, Wright entered a non-negotiated guilty plea to malice murder and received a life sentence; armed robbery, a concurrent 20-year sentence; one count of aggravated assault, a concurrent 10-year sentence; criminal attempt to purchase marijuana, a concurrent 10-year sentence; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, a consecutive, suspended 5-year sentence. The felony murder counts were vacated by operation of law, and the remaining count of aggravated assault merged into the malice murder conviction for sentencing purposes. On February 17, 2020, Wright filed, through plea counsel, a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. (Wright simultaneously entered guilty pleas to three separate indictments during his plea hearing, two of which are not at issue in this case. He filed motions to withdraw his guilty plea in all three cases, but he then withdrew the motions pertaining to the indictments which are not the subject of this appeal.) An evidentiary hearing on the motion to withdraw was held on October 4, 2021. Wright was represented by new counsel, and Wright’s plea counsel testified. Wright, through new counsel, filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The motion was timely filed in the same term of court as his conviction. Wright argued that his plea counsel was ineffective for allegedly failing to inform him before sentencing of the more stringent “manifest injustice” standard for withdrawing a guilty plea after sentencing. After the court denied Wright’s motion, Wright appealed, arguing that his plea counsel’s alleged ineffective assistance resulted in an “unnecessary burden” on him. For the following reasons, we discern no abuse of discretion in the superior court’s ruling, and we affirm its order denying Wright’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The record shows that the prosecutor set forth the following factual basis for Wright’s guilty plea. On October 28, 2016, Wright and his co-defendant, Quatez Clark, went to a “trap house” in Fulton County with a box …

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