190 So.3d 527 (Ala.Crim.App. 2009), CR-07-0051, Beckworth v. State

Docket NºCR-07-0051
Citation190 So.3d 527
Opinion JudgeWELCH, Judge.
Party NameRex Allen Beckworth v. State of Alabama
AttorneyFor Appellant: John C. Neiman, Jr., Birmingham; Sydney Albert Smith, Elba; and Daniel Gary Hamm, Montgomery. For Appellee: Troy King, atty. gen., J. Clayton Crenshaw, and Thomas Govan, asst. attys. gen.
Judge PanelWELCH, Judge. Wise, P.J., and Windom and Kellum, JJ., concur. Wise, P.J., and Windom and Kellum, JJ., concur.
Case DateMay 01, 2009
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Page 527

190 So.3d 527 (Ala.Crim.App. 2009)

Rex Allen Beckworth

v.

State of Alabama

CR-07-0051

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

May 1, 2009 [*]

Released May 1, 2009.

Released for Publication May 7, 2016.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from Houston Circuit Court. (CC-00-1343.60). S. Edward Jackson, Trial Judge.

For Appellant: John C. Neiman, Jr., Birmingham; Sydney Albert Smith, Elba; and Daniel Gary Hamm, Montgomery.

For Appellee: Troy King, atty. gen., J. Clayton Crenshaw, and Thomas Govan, asst. attys. gen.

WELCH, Judge. Wise, P.J., and Windom and Kellum, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 533

WELCH, Judge.

In 2002 Rex Allen Beckworth was convicted of capital murder, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(4), Ala. Code 1975, and was sentenced to death. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed Beckworth's conviction and death sentence. Beckworth v. State, 946 So.2d 490 (Ala.Crim.App. 2005). The Alabama Supreme Court denied certiorari review, 946 So.2d 490 (Ala. 2006), as did the United States Supreme Court, 549 U.S. 1120, 127 S.Ct. 935, 166 L.Ed.2d 717 (2007). A certificate of judgment was issued on June 23, 2006. On June 22, 2007, Beckworth filed a petition pursuant to Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., seeking postconviction relief. The case involving Beckworth's petition was assigned to Judge Edward Jackson, who had presided over Beckworth's trial. On August 13, 2007, the State of Alabama filed its answer to Beckworth's petition. On August 16, 2007, the circuit court entered an order dismissing the petition. On September 6, 2007, Beckworth filed a motion to reconsider the dismissal and a motion for leave to amend the petition. On September 24, 2007, the trial court issued an order purporting to grant Beckworth 30 days to amend the Rule 32 petition. This appeal follows.

The underlying facts in this case are stated in this Court's opinion on direct appeal. " In the early morning hours of January 10, 2000, Rex Allen Beckworth and his younger half brother, James Walker, broke into the home of Bessie Lee Thweatt, an 87-year-old widow who lived alone in the house in which she had resided for 67 years. At the time of her death, Thweatt was 5 feet, 1 inch tall, and she weighed 112 pounds. Thweatt was beaten and shot in the head; her house was ransacked. On January 10, 2000, family members of Bessie Thweatt discovered that the back window of the Ford automobile she drove, which was parked in the carport by her house, and a picture window on the back of her house had been broken. A light in Thweatt's carport had been broken out and the exterior telephone lines to her house had been cut. One of Thweatt's family members, Buford Fortson, stepped onto a cement block that was in front of the broken picture window and climbed into the house to look for Thweatt. Another cement block was inside the house, near the window, and broken glass from the window was inside the house. Fortson called Thweatt's name and looked for her, but Thweatt did not answer. The dining room had been ransacked and furniture had been tossed around. Fortson testified that the door between the dining room and the kitchen had been kicked in; a footprint had been left on the door. The kitchen had been ransacked, and clothing and other items were littered all over the floors throughout the house. Thweatt was found, dead, on the floor of the kitchen. Her back was by the locked door to the carport and her head was against the kitchen counter. Buford testified that Thweatt's face was 'a hundred percent covered with blood' and that her hands were also bloody. (R. 290.) The authorities were summoned, and they investigated the murder. The jury viewed photographs and a videotape of the crime scene.

Page 534 " Gary Jenkins, an investigator with the Houston County Sheriff's Office, videotaped the crime scene, including the broken light in the carport, the severed telephone lines, and what law-enforcement officers believed to be blood splatter on objects near the victim's body. Jenkins testified that he retrieved a bullet from the frame around the door that separated the dining room and the kitchen in Thweatt's house. Another law-enforcement officer at the scene recovered a .22 caliber shell casing on the dining-room floor of Thweatt's house; the casing was approximately 10 to 12 feet from Thweatt's body. The bullet and casing were sent to the forensics laboratory for testing and comparison. The door between the kitchen and dining room appeared to have been pushed in or kicked in and a footprint had been left on the door. A flashlight battery was found beneath the car in the carport.

" Forensic testimony established that Thweatt had sustained more than seven blunt-force injuries to her face and head. The injuries resulted in substantial bleeding and bruising of the skin, indicating that Thweatt was alive when the injuries were inflicted. The injuries also resulted in multiple facial skull fractures, indicating to the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Thweatt's body that a great amount of force was used to inflict the injuries. The pathologist further testified that Thweatt 'must have been in deep pain' as a result of the numerous injuries to her face and head because the skin in these areas has many nerve endings. He later acknowledged, however, that he did not know whether Thweatt was rendered unconscious by the blows to her head. He stated that the blunt-force injuries could have been caused by the muzzle or any other part of a gun. The pathologist testified that Thweatt's death was the result of a gunshot wound to her right eyebrow; the shot was fired at close range. The bullet traveled from the front of her head to the back and from the right side to the left side. The bullet also traveled on a slight downward angle from the top of Thweatt's head; the pathologist testified that it was very unlikely that Thweatt was standing straight up when she was shot. The bullet 'tore a hole through her brain and basically separated the two hemispheres, that is, the right and left hemisphere, and impacted upon the back of her head.' (R. 352.) The bullet had remained in Thweatt's skull; the pathologist removed the bullet fragments and secured them for forensic testing.

" One of Thweatt's grandsons, Mark Peacock, a convicted felon who was incarcerated at the time of trial, testified that he knew Beckworth and that he had spoken with him as they passed time together when they both had 'a lot of time' on their hands, approximately three years before the trial. (R. 327, 329.) Peacock had mentioned to Beckworth that his grandmother had farmland around her house and a red 1977 Thunderbird automobile in her yard; Beckworth had indicated to Peacock that he was familiar with the area where Thweatt lived. Peacock also acknowledged that he informed Beckworth, '[M]y grandmother probably has more money than she knows what do to do with.' (R. 331.) Testimony from Mary Kelley, Thweatt's daughter, established that Thweatt kept cash in her house and in her vehicle. Upon her death, Thweatt's family learned that she had saved approximately $ 200,000 in cash.

" Chris Hood, a convicted felon who was incarcerated at the time of trial, testified that he knew Beckworth and

Page 535 had spent time with him in November and December 2000. He testified that Beckworth asked him if he could get 'a hot gun,' one that could not be traced to Hood or to Beckworth. (R. 482.) Beckworth said he wanted the gun for his wife, who was a truck driver. Hood testified that he told Beckworth that he would let Beckworth know if he found such a gun. Hood further testified that Beckworth told him that the best way to kill a person was execution-style. Hood said that, after he heard about the January 10, 2000, slaying of Bessie Lee Thweatt, he contacted local law-enforcement officers and told them about Beckworth. Hood also told the officers that Beckworth had lived in Gadsden.

" Angela Lynn Foster, an inmate at the Houston County jail at the time of trial serving a sentence for writing a 'bad check,' testified that James Walker, Beckworth's codefendant, was her half brother. She testified that, on January 4 or 5, 2000, Walker and Beckworth came to a motel in Dothan where she was employed at the time. She said that Walker was 19 or 20 years old at the time and Beckworth was 34 years old. She said that Beckworth appeared to be the leader, the one who decided what he and Walker would do. Foster testified that she later saw inside the trunk of the car Beckworth was driving; among the items she saw inside the trunk were clothing or a quilt and the barrel of a gun that she believed to be a .22 caliber rifle or shotgun sticking out. (R. 594-95.) Beckworth told her that someone had given him the gun. Foster said that Beckworth had a brother in Gadsden.

" On January 21, 2000, a farmer who was crossing a bridge approximately one and one-half miles from Thweatt's house, saw the barrel and stock of a rifle in the water beneath the bridge. (R. 294, 454-55.) Houston County deputies arrived soon after and the farmer assisted them in removing a .22 caliber rifle from the water.

" Lt. Donald Valenza of the Houston County Sheriff's Office testified as to evidence he observed at the crime scene. He also testified that James Walker was arrested in Gadsden and that Walker made some statements after his arrest. Beckworth was later arrested in Phoenix, Arizona. Lt. Valenza and another officer traveled to Arizona to arrest Beckworth on capital-murder charges. While they were in the Phoenix airport, Valenza told Beckworth that Walker was in custody and...

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3 practice notes
  • McWhorter v. Dunn, 012219 ALNDC, 4:13-CV-02150-RDP
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • 22 Enero 2019
    ...(a)(5) to survive summary dismissal - has since been squarely rejected by the Alabama Supreme Court. See Ex parte Beckworth, 190 So.3d 571, 575 (Ala. 2013) (holding that habeas petitioners have no burden to plead facts negating the preclusive bars of Rule 32.2(a)(3) ......
  • 201 So.3d 573 (Ala.Crim.App. 2015), CR-12-1837, Spencer v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 6 Febrero 2015
    ...failure to use his peremptory strikes to remove these three jurors. See Beckworth v. State, [[Ms. CR-07-0051, May 1, 2009], 190 So.3d 527 , (Ala.Crim.App. 2009)]. Lee did not allege that any of the jurors were actually biased against him and, unlike [State v.] Terry......
  • 184 So.3d 415 (Ala.Crim.App. 2014), CR-10-0224, Davis v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 2 Mayo 2014
    ...possession that counsel should have discovered...." Id.; see also Beckworth v. State, [Ms. CR-07-0051, May 1, 2009] 190 So.3d 527, 541, (Ala.Crim.App. 2009)(holding that a petition lacked specificity because petitioner " failed to include in his petition a......
3 cases
  • McWhorter v. Dunn, 012219 ALNDC, 4:13-CV-02150-RDP
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • 22 Enero 2019
    ...(a)(5) to survive summary dismissal - has since been squarely rejected by the Alabama Supreme Court. See Ex parte Beckworth, 190 So.3d 571, 575 (Ala. 2013) (holding that habeas petitioners have no burden to plead facts negating the preclusive bars of Rule 32.2(a)(3) ......
  • 201 So.3d 573 (Ala.Crim.App. 2015), CR-12-1837, Spencer v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 6 Febrero 2015
    ...failure to use his peremptory strikes to remove these three jurors. See Beckworth v. State, [[Ms. CR-07-0051, May 1, 2009], 190 So.3d 527 , (Ala.Crim.App. 2009)]. Lee did not allege that any of the jurors were actually biased against him and, unlike [State v.] Terry......
  • 184 So.3d 415 (Ala.Crim.App. 2014), CR-10-0224, Davis v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 2 Mayo 2014
    ...possession that counsel should have discovered...." Id.; see also Beckworth v. State, [Ms. CR-07-0051, May 1, 2009] 190 So.3d 527, 541, (Ala.Crim.App. 2009)(holding that a petition lacked specificity because petitioner " failed to include in his petition a......

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