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Supreme Court upholds Colquitt murder conviction

ATLANTA, Ga. — The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the August 2008 murder conviction of Craig Gandy in Colquitt County.

Gandy was found guilty of felony murder, armed robbery, burglary and aggravated assault for the Oct. 23, 2007 incident in which James and Karen Moore were shot inside their Moultrie home.

Gandy and Jim Cloud, then 21, reportedly shot the couple after breaking into their home at 3:30 a.m. that day demanding cash. Karen Moore died as a result of the shooting.

Police arrested Cloud first and then, after a longer chase, caught and arrested Gandy, who had about $4,000 in cash on him.

Gandy, 20 at the time of the incident, was sentenced to life imprisonment for felony murder, a concurrent 20-year term for burglary and a concurrent 20-year term for aggravated assault.

Gandy and Cloud had left the house with the Moores’ safe, which was found in a ditch approximately 50 yards from the couple’s home, court documents show.

Gandy’s counsel contended in his case before the Supreme Court that the trial court erred by failing to grant a mistrial when Cloud identified someone else connected to the crime in court, which the defense claims resulted in this person testifying by his presence.

Since this person, identified in court documents as Joshua Peterson, asserted the Fifth Amendment, the defense argued that the identification violated Gandy’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses.

It was also argued that the trial court erred by declining to declare a mistrial when Cloud testified that he had taken a polygraph test. Cloud mentioned in court that he had taken the test, and a motion for a mistrial was denied on the grounds that the mention of the polygraph was unsolicited by the prosecution.

The trial court did, however, issue a curative instruction to the jury to disregard any reference to a polygraph, court records indicate.

Gandy further contended in his appeal that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and thus, the trial court erred by failing to grant a new trial.

The Supreme Court justices opted, however, to affirm the lower court’s decision.

The indictment against Gandy was handed down on Dec. 18, 2007, two months after the incident took place. The trial court entered the judgments of conviction and sentences on Aug. 28, 2008 — nearly two weeks after he was found guilty.

A motion for a new trial was filed on Sept. 5, 2008, amended on March 26, 2010 and denied on June 30, 2010. A notice of appeal was filed in the case on July 27, 2010 and was docketed in the Supreme Court for the April 2011 term.