ATLANTA, Ga. — The Georgia Supreme Court will consider two cases from Southwest Georgia Monday, according to court officials.
In Wheeler v. the State, Martin Wheeler, who was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend, is appealing his conviction and life sentence arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for several reasons including for not objecting when the prosecutor called Wheeler “one of the meanest SOBs in Grady County” during closing statements and that he should have called for a mistrial when Wheeler responded by standing up and “shooting birds” at the prosecutor.
Wheeler is also arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict him because the lead agent in charge of the investigation for the GBI testified that another man had initially admitted to the murder but said it was an accident.
The state counters by saying that the evidence was more than sufficient to convict, in light of “the multiple similar transactions against the appellant, the previous acts of violence against the victim, the irrefutable DNA evidence of appellant linking him to the type of killing involved, the suspected weapon found at his residence, his lack of an explanation as to why his bodily fluids were found at the scene and the access appellant had to the victim prior to her death.”
In the second case, Goodson et al, v. Ford et al, the court will decide who has rightful use of a 60-foot-wide strip of land in Lee County.
According to the court, Arthur and Donna Ford purchased more than 38 acres in Lee County in 2000, including a strip of land that is 418 feet long by 60 feet wide. Over that strip runs a 20-foot-wide driveway from Highway 32 used by Roy and Ruth Goodson, who have owned the property to the west of the strip since 1977, and Donald and Nancy Eller, who have owned the property to the east of the strip since 1992.
Beginning in 1997, Donald Eller began operating a day lily business from his property, and he used the strip as a parking area for customers and for deliveries of materials, as well as signs identifying his business. After the Fords purchased the property, however, they asked the Goodsons to stop using the strip as a parking area.
In 2007, the Fords sued to limit their use of the land. The court appointed a “special master” — generally a lawyer appointed to assist the court in a particular case. Following a hearing, the special master issued a report in which he found that the Goodsons and Ellers had no right to the 60-foot strip beyond the 20-foot driveway. The trial court then adopted the special master’s report and ruled in favor of the Fords.
The Goodsons and Ellers appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.
The Goodsons believe they have legal title to the complete 60-foot strip by the terms of their deed and the deeds of those who preceded them in title.
The Fords argue that the special master correctly found that the Goodsons and Ellers failed to meet the requirements for adverse possession of the entire 60-foot strip.