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State Supreme Court upholds Brinson conviction

POSTED: April 28, 2011 7:27 p.m.

The Supreme Court of Georgia has affirmed the 2009 murder conviction of an Effingham County man.
Justices ruled Tuesday that there was no reversible error in the conviction of Sammy Brinson Jr., who was found guilty in the May 2006 death of his infant daughter, Arianna Rosier.

Brinson asserted on appeal that the state failed to prove venue but the justices unanimously agreed that the state had done so. Brinson’s appeal was argued before the state Supreme Court on Jan. 25.

Justices also had denied his motion for a new trial on Sept. 7, 2010. Brinson filed an appeal on Sept. 10, 2010.

Brinson was indicted for malice murder, three counts of felony murder, cruelty to children, aggravated battery and aggravated assault. His trial began on Jan. 12, 2009, and lasted four days. Jurors found Brinson guilty of all the charges except for malice murder and he was sentenced in May 2009 to life for felony murder and 20 years to serve concurrently for aggravated battery. The remaining counts were merged and vacated by the trial court.

On May 20, 2006, Arianna’s mother took the 2-month-old child to Brinson’s house around 9 p.m. The mother expected Brinson to return Arianna to her house in an hour or two, according to court documents. Later that night, Brinson called and said he wanted Arianna to spend the night at his house.

At around 2:50 a.m., a Rincon police officer responded to Brinson’s home on a 911 call. Brinson was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher when the officer came to the door. Brinson said he gave Arianna a bottle of formula around 10 p.m. before putting her to sleep. He woke up when he heard the baby gasping for air and told the officer Arianna “had been known to choke on her formula and sometimes gasp for air.”

The officer found Arianna lying on the floor at the foot of Brinson’s bed. He reported her as “lifeless” and “cold to the touch.” After not getting a pulse, he began CPR. EMTs arrived and the child was rushed to Effingham Hospital.

Brinson called Arianna’s mother and said the baby was being taken to the hospital and that he was coming to pick her up. When she asked what happened, Brinson said Arianna was choking on her milk.
Arianna was eventually airlifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah and admitted to pediatric intensive care. She died later that morning from a severe traumatic brain injury and her injuries were the result of being shaken violently.

At Memorial, Arianna’s mother called Brinson and told him the baby was not going to survive. He replied he was on his way to the hospital. But he did not go to the hospital and never called Arianna’s mother back. He also did not attend her funeral.

Justices ruled that the evidence was sufficient to find Brinson guilty beyond a reasonable doubt since it showed he was the only one caring for the victim during the relevant time period. Though the state showed the crime occurred at Brinson’s Rincon home, the state did not show that Rincon lies entirely within Effingham County. But the state did show that crime was committed at Brinson’s address, that Effingham 911 received his call and Effingham EMS and Rincon Police were sent to his house.

Also, the attending physician at Memorial called the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office to report a crime had taken place at Brinson’s address. The justices also upheld that a search warrant is evidence of venue, as an Effingham arrest warrant with Brinson’s address was introduced into evidence. Justices said the state may use both direct and circumstantial evidence to establish venue.

Brinson also argued that the state shouldn’t have been allowed to introduce a previous conviction for using his fists to injure a former girlfriend. The justices disagreed.

Brinson is currently in the Ware State Prison.

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