581 So.2d 536 (Ala.Crim.App. 1990), CR 89-447, Daniels v. State

Docket Nº:CR 89-447.
Citation:581 So.2d 536
Party Name:William Eltoria DANIELS v. STATE.
Case Date:September 21, 1990
Court:Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Page 536

581 So.2d 536 (Ala.Crim.App. 1990)

William Eltoria DANIELS



CR 89-447.

Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.

September 21, 1990

Rehearing Denied Jan. 18, 1991.

Page 537

L. Dan Turberville, Birmingham, for appellant.

Don Siegelman, Atty. Gen., and Martha Gail Ingram, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

TAYLOR, Presiding Judge.

The appellant, William Eltoria Daniels, was convicted of the murder of Dewey Willard Early as defined by § 13A-6-2, Code of Alabama 1975, and was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment.

The evidence presented by the State tended to establish that late in the afternoon or early on the evening of August 29, 1987, Barbara Carpenter had taken her young daughter to a park near Sixth Avenue North and 25th Street in downtown Birmingham. While Ms. Carpenter and her daughter were in the park, Ms. Carpenter observed two men taking photographs of one another. One of the men was wearing a red shirt and was sitting on a automobile parked on 25th Street next to the park. The other man was "kind of in the street." She recognized the man standing in the street as the appellant, William Eltoria Daniels, an acquaintance of her brother's. After approximately 15 minutes, Ms. Carpenter noticed a truck coming down 25th Street toward the appellant. As the truck passed by appellant, its rearview mirror either almost touched appellant or barely grazed him. The appellant jumped in his automobile, a beige or cream-colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and sped down the street in pursuit of the truck.

In his haste to catch the truck, the appellant failed to turn on his car's headlights and almost collided head-on with a car being driven down 25th Street by Derrick Blackmon. (Apparently, appellant was parked against the oncoming traffic, and had to make a U-turn to follow the truck.) All three vehicles--the truck, the Monte Carlo, and Derrick Blackmon's Chevrolet Camaro automobile--came to a stop at the intersection of Sixth Avenue North and 25th Street. The appellant's Monte Carlo was in the right lane, the truck was in the center lane, and Blackmon's Camaro was in the left lane. While the three vehicles were stopped for the red light, the appellant

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got out of his car and went over and began to scream and curse at the driver of the truck, an elderly man later identified as the victim, Dewey Willard Early.

Kim Bryant, Derrick Blackmon's girlfriend, was riding in the passenger seat of Blackmon's Camaro and was the closest witness to the appellant's encounter with Mr. Early. She stated that when the appellant started screaming and cursing at Mr. Early, he looked at appellant as if he "didn't know what was going on." In Ms. Bryant's words, "He [Mr. Early] was like in amazement." The appellant was screaming "you can't do that to me" at Mr. Early when a man in a red shirt walked up and tried to stop the appellant. About this time, the light changed to green and Mr. Early started to pull away from the intersection. The appellant then began firing a pistol through the rear windshield of the truck. He fired at least five shots. The truck then struck two cars and a pedestrian prior to coming to rest against a utility pole. The appellant got into his car and left the scene. His friend--the man in the red shirt--walked away.

Officer C.D. McKay of the Birmingham Police Department was the first officer on the scene. He received the call at 8:20 p.m. He observed that the truck had hit two cars and a pedestrian. There was a bullet hole in the side of the truck and a bullet had come through the truck's rear windshield, shattering it. The driver of the truck had also been struck by some of the bullets and was unconscious. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for his injuries. However, Mr. Early died five to six weeks after the incident as a result of a gunshot wound to the neck that damaged his spinal cord. Pneumonia resulting from the gunshot wound was the secondary cause of death.


The appellant first contends that the State violated his constitutional right to equal protection under the law by using all of its peremptory challenges to remove eight white women and one black woman from his jury. Specifically, the appellant seeks to extend the rule of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), to gender-based strikes.

This issue has not yet been addressed by any Alabama court. However, numerous other jurisdictions have made it clear that Batson does not extend to gender-based strikes by a prosecutor. In United States v. Hamilton, 850 F.2d 1038 (4th Cir.1988), cert. dismissed sub nom. Washington v. United States, 489 U.S. 1094, 109 S.Ct. 1564, 103 L.Ed.2d 931 (1989), cert. denied, Hamilton v. United States, 493 U.S. 1069, 110 S.Ct. 1109, 107 L.Ed.2d 1017 (1990), the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected the argument that the Equal Protection Clause compelled an extension of Batson, supra, to peremptory challenges on the basis of gender. That Court stated that while it did not approve of striking jurors for any reason related to some group classification, it found no authority to extend Batson beyond instances of racial discrimination.

"Although the Court in Batson relaxed the evidentiary burden of Swain [v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202, 85 S.Ct. 824, 13 L.Ed.2d 759 (1965) ], it offered no intimation that it was extending the equal protection safeguards involving peremptory strikes to gender: 'By requiring trial courts to be sensitive to the racially discriminatory use of peremptory challenges, our decision enforces the mandate of equal protection and furthers the ends of justice.' 106 S.Ct. at 1724 (emphasis added). While the strictures of the Equal Protection Clause undoubtedly apply to prohibit discrimination due to gender in other contexts, there is no evidence to suggest that the Supreme Court would apply normal equal protection principles to the unique situation involving peremptory challenges.


"Clearly, if the Supreme Court in Batson had desired, it could have abolished the peremptory challenge or prohibited the exercise of the challenges on the basis of race, gender, age or other group classification. A careful examination of the Batson opinion, however, leads this

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Court to the firm conclusion that, in light of the important position of the...

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