The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction of a Rome man who shot and killed another man during a June 16, 2018, confrontation on Wright Street in North Rome.
Grady Harper Jr. was convicted in 2019 and sentenced to life without parole plus five years for the murder of John Alton Allen Jr.
His attorney argued that his conviction should be overturned on two points — the trial court erred when it didn’t instruct the court reporter to transcribe the entirety of the jury selection process and the evidence at trial was insufficient to disprove his justification of the shooting.
The high court disagreed on both points in an order published Tuesday, affirming Harper’s conviction.
According to testimony during the trial:
Allen was 36 years old when he was shot to death outside his home at 302 Wright St. in North Rome. He had been in a confrontation with Harper’s younger brother, Jamal, the night before at the Hop-N-Shop on Calhoun Avenue.
On the day of the shooting, both Grady Harper, who was carrying a pistol, and Jamal Harper walked up to Allen. They began arguing. Allen struck Jamal Harper and knocked him into a ditch.
One witness said Grady Harper had come along to make sure it was a fair fight. During his trial, Grady Harper testified that he’d acted in self-defense despite other testimony stating Allen didn’t have a gun.
The two men were separated when Grady Harper opened fire — hitting Allen in the chest, stomach, arm and hand. Both brothers fled. Allen died later in the hospital. Grady Harper was arrested several days later in Savannah.
“We conclude that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to disprove Harper’s justification defense beyond a reasonable doubt,” the order by Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren stated. “Notwithstanding Harper’s testimony, however, multiple witnesses — including his brother Jamal — testified that Allen did not have a gun during the fight.”