Conviction for Kidnapping overturned where asportation (carrying away of victim) was minimal

Since the seminal 2008 case of Garza v. State, 284 Ga. 696, 701-702 (1) (670 SE2d 73) (2008), the courts have held the prosecutors must prove the asportation element of kidnapping. The Courts will look at four factors to determine the sufficiency of the evidence of asportation in kidnapping cases. Those four factors are: (1) the duration of the movement; (2) whether the movement occurred during the commission of a separate offense; (3) whether such movement was an inherent part of that separate offense; and (4) whether the movement itself presented a significant danger to the victim independent of the danger posed by the separate offense.

July 1, 2011, the Court of Appeals released THOMAS v. THE STATE, 2011 Ga. App. LEXIS 591. Chris Thomas was convicted by a jury of kidnapping, armed robbery, four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery. Davis, the victim, testified he had just finished a live broadcast at his radio station when someone came up from behind and put an arm around his neck, placing him in a “death” choke. Davis said at first he thought someone was playing a joke, and he said “I give up, you win.” Davis testified that as he remained in the choke hold, a third person threw bleach into his eyes; however, because of the angle from which it was thrown, he was blinded only in his right eye. At that point, he started to fight back. He planted his feet and shot straight back at the person who had him in the choke hold and a struggle ensued. As he continued to struggle on the floor, one of the assailants tried to get duct tape around his eyes. As the struggle continued, he and his assailants moved about seven to ten feet across the floor and just slightly outside of the studio room before he was subdued and taken back into the studio room and then tortured.
The Court held the movement was of short or minimal duration, clearly occurring during the course and incidental to the assaults. Although the State argued that the danger to Davis was increased by this movement since it took him out of view if someone might have happened to look into the window located in the studio room, the argument ignored the fact Davis was moved back into that room as soon as he was subdued. The movement was not to “substantially isolate” Davis from protection or rescue, but was merely a “criminologically insignificant circumstance” attendant to the assaults being committed against him.
Thus, the State could not make out the asportation element. The case was reversed and remanded.

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