ATLANTA -- The Georgia Supreme Court tossed three of nine convictions against a Gwinnett man sentenced in the 2008 fatal shooting of a good friend, though his conviction of murder and subsequent life sentence was upheld, court officials said Monday.
A Gwinnett jury in June 2010 convicted Devin Anthony Grell of burglarizing the Lawrenceville home of 20-year-old Donny Edouard and shooting him in the face in an upstairs bedroom. In the wake of the July 2008 shooting, the two were described by acquaintances as best friends.
Leaving the home, Grell shot visitor Brianna Morgan, Edouard's girlfriend, in the ear and leg before fleeing. Her eyewitness testimony was key in convicting Grell. His motive for the shootings was not known.
After two days of deliberation, a jury found Grell guilty of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, five counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and burglary.
He was sentenced to life plus 25 years.
Grell appealed his conviction on grounds his defense counsel was ineffective, that key testimony was bungled and that jurors were improperly instructed after they raised a question during deliberations.
Justices unanimously ruled that those claims were unfounded, but to Grell's benefit they threw out one aggravated assault conviction and two convictions for firearms possession.
Because Morgan was shot in quick succession, the two gunshots did not constitute separate aggravated assaults, the Justices found.
They also ruled that only three of Grell's crimes -- burglary and both shootings -- could serve as underlying charges for the firearms counts, not each criminal action he took.
Prior to the shootings, Grell had been out of prison for only five months. He'd served four years of a six-year sentence for stabbing a fellow Dacula High School student in the stomach at school in 2003.