204 S.E.2d 414 (Va. 1974), Greenfield v. Commonwealth

Citation:204 S.E.2d 414, 214 Va. 710
Opinion Judge:[10] I'anson
Party Name:Ronald W. GREENFIELD v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Attorney:[7] Stephen A. Saltzburg (E. Gerald Tremblay, on brief), for plaintiff in error.
Case Date:April 22, 1974
Court:Supreme Court of Virginia

Page 414

204 S.E.2d 414 (Va. 1974)

214 Va. 710




Supreme Court of Virginia.

April 22, 1974.

Defendant was convicted before the Circuit Court, City of Charlottesville, [*] George M. Coles, J., of murder, and he brought writ of error. The Supreme Court, I'Anson, J., held that refusal to allow psychiatrist, who had testified that defendant was unconscious at time of homicide, to testify in detail as to that which members of defendant's family told psychiatrist and with regard to detailed information in defendant's school and medical records was not error, that hypnotic evidence is not admissible, that fact that trial judge directed psychiatrist not to hypnotize defendant again was not error, that denial of change of venue was not abuse of discretion and that police had right, without a warrant, to seize defendant's clothing and to use such articles as evidence against defendant.

Page 415

[214 Va. 711] Stephen A. Saltzburg, Charlottesville (E. Gerald Tremblay, Charlottesville, on brief), for plaintiff in error.

Page 416

Gilbert W. Haith, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Andrew P. Miller, Atty. Gen., on brief), for defendant in error.


I'ANSON, Justice.

Defendant, Ronald W. Greenfield, was tried by a jury for the murder of Mary Frances Jordan, found guilty of murder of the second degree, and his punishment was fixed at twenty years in the penitentiary. He was sentenced accordingly, and he is here on a writ of error.

Defendant contends that the trial court erred in refusing (1) to allow a psychiatrist to state in detail the basis for his opinion that the defendant was unconscious at the time of the alleged crime; (2) to allow the psychiatrist to hypnotize the defendant during a recess of his trial for the purpose of jogging his memory before testifying; (3) to grant a change of venue because of press coverage of the case; and (4) to suppress the introduction into evidence of some of his clothes, which the police took from him without a search warrant while he was in custody.

The evidence shows that on the night of November 7, 1972, the defendant and Mary Frances Jordan, the deceased, were employees of Poe's, a restaurant and beer parlor near the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The deceased, a 21-year-old college student, was a waitress, and the defendant, 17 years of age, was a doorman at the establishment.

Defendant testified that it was raining quite heavily that night and Mary Frances offered him a ride home. About 12:30 on the morning of November 8, they left Poe's with Mary Frances using the defendant's green 'army-type' jacket to shield herself from the rain while going for her car. Defendant waited for her under an awning in front of Poe's. After Mary Frances picked him up, she drove to a parking lot near his apartment where they sat and talked for about [214 Va. 712] fifteen minutes. She criticized him for his use of drugs, which he resented, but both were on friendly terms before he left the car. He had consumed heroin early in the evening and some psilocybin (a ballucinogenic drug) later that same night before leaving the restaurant. He said that as he was alighting from the car he felt a falling sensation, and the next thing he could remember was awaking and finding himself on the ground about fifteen feet away from the car on the driver's side. When he got up, he saw a person running from the scene, Mary Frances lying motionless in a pool of blood on the driver's side of the car, and his pocket knife on the car floor. He picked up the knife and put it in his pocket. He then noticed that his hand was cut and bleeding. He concluded that he must have 'freaked out' and that he had killed her. He fled from the scene and eventually got a ride to Richmond with a truck driver.

Around 12:25 a.m. a college student, who lived near the parking lot where the deceased and defendant had parked, though he heard a woman screaming. Responding to those screams, he left his apartment, observed a man wearing an olive army coat running from the parking lot, and saw the victim lying beside the open door of her car on the driver's side. He carried her to his apartment, and called the rescue squad and the police. The victim died shortly thereafter at the University of Virginia Hospital. The cause of her death was multiple stab wounds.

During the daylight hours of November 8th, defendant was arrested at a hospital in Richmond where he had sought medical attention for his hand. After receiving his Miranda rights, the defendant freely and voluntarily made a statement to a Richmond detective who took it down in longhand. The statement, in part, contained an admission that he killed the deceased and that the knife taken from him by the police was the murder weapon.

Page 417

While en route to Charlottesville, the defendant told a Charlottesville detective: 'I don't feel bad about taking her life. . . . I don't feel bad about taking a human being's life.'

After arriving at the Charlottesville jail, the police gave defendant some clean clothes and took from him the clothing he was wearing. An analysis of defendant's clothing revealed...

To continue reading