852 P.2d 744 (Okla.Crim.App. 1993), F-88-466, Hain v. State

Docket Nº:F-88-466.
Citation:852 P.2d 744
Party Name:Scott Allen HAIN, Appellant, v. STATE of Oklahoma, Appellee.
Case Date:April 29, 1993
Court:Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
 
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Page 744

852 P.2d 744 (Okla.Crim.App. 1993)

Scott Allen HAIN, Appellant,

v.

STATE of Oklahoma, Appellee.

No. F-88-466.

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma.

April 29, 1993.

Rehearing Denied and Mandate Issued Sept. 14, 1993.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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An Appeal from the District Court of Creek County, Donald D. Thompson, District Judge.

SCOTT ALLEN HAIN, Appellant, was convicted of two counts each of Murder in the First Degree, Kidnapping, Robbery with Firearms, and Larceny of an Automobile and one count of Arson in the Third Degree after a two stage jury trial in the District Court of Creek County, Case No. CRF-87-240. Following the guilty verdicts, Appellant was sentenced in accordance with the jury's recommendations. He received the death penalty on each count of Murder, ten years per count for Kidnapping, one hundred years per count for Robbery with Firearms, twenty years per count for Larceny of an Automobile and fifteen years for the third degree Arson. Appellant has brought this appeal challenging both the guilty verdicts and the sentences imposed for the crimes. Having reviewed the allegations of error raised by Appellant, we find that the convictions for Murder, Kidnapping, Arson in the Third Degree and Larceny of an Automobile are AFFIRMED. The convictions for Robbery with Firearms are REVERSED with instructions to DISMISS. The death sentence returned for the Murder convictions is VACATED and the case is REMANDED for new second stage proceedings.

John Thomas Hall and Elaine Meek, Tulsa, for appellant.

Robert H. Henry, Atty. Gen., Carol Price Dillingham, Asst. Atty. Gen., Oklahoma City, for appellee.

OPINION

LANE, Judge:

Appellant, Scott Allen Hain, was convicted of two counts each of Murder in the First Degree, Kidnapping, Robbery with Firearms, and Larceny of an Automobile and one count of Arson in the Third Degree after a two stage jury trial in the District Court of Creek County, Case No. CRF-87-240. Following the guilty verdicts, Appellant was sentenced in accordance with the jury's recommendations. He received the death penalty on each count of Murder, ten years per count for Kidnapping, one hundred years per count for Robbery with Firearms, twenty years per count for Larceny of an Automobile and fifteen years for the third degree Arson. Appellant has brought this appeal challenging both the guilty verdicts and the sentences imposed for the crimes.

During the early morning hours of October 6, 1987, Laura Lee Sanders and Michael Houghton were seated in Sanders' car outside a Tulsa bar when they were approached by two men, later determined to be Scott Allen Hain and Robert Wayne Lambert. Hain and Lambert were in the parking lot, waiting to rob a nearby house when they saw Sanders and Houghton talking in the car. Appellant and Lambert forced their way into the car by threatening Houghton with a knife.

Hain drove the car away from the bar, then stopped and robbed Houghton at gunpoint. When Houghton resisted the robbery, Appellant forced him into the trunk of the car. A short while later, Appellant and Lambert stopped and put Sanders in the trunk as well.

After robbing Houghton and getting the keys to his truck, the two men decided to go back to the bar where the incident began and take Houghton's truck as well as Sanders car. Lambert drove the truck away from Tulsa toward Sand Springs. He stopped after driving down a rural Creek County roadway. Appellant followed in Sanders' car with Sanders and Houghton in the trunk.

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The two men took Sanders' things, including some clothes, out of her car and put them in the truck. One of them cut the gas line to the car and set it on fire by putting lighted newspaper and a blanket under the dripping fuel line. Houghton and Sanders were banging on the trunk and yelling. Appellant and Lambert left the area, however, returned a short time later to see if the fire was burning well.

The two men stopped at a friend's house in Jennings and left a bag of things belonging to the victims in the garage. They traveled to Wichita, Kansas in Houghton's truck. After spending the five hundred and sixty-five ($565.00) dollars which they got from Houghton and Sanders, the two returned to Tulsa, where they were apprehended on the evening of October 9, 1987.

STATUS AS A JUVENILE

Appellant's first series of arguments concerns the fact that he was seventeen when the murders of Houghton and Sanders were committed. He complains that the reverse certification procedures in Oklahoma do not sufficiently narrow the class of offenders against which the death penalty may sought; that execution of a juvenile is against societal standards of decency; that the punishment "fails in the 'proportionality' analysis;" and that the classification standards are arbitrary and capricious. We disagree with Appellant's assessment of the statutes concerning the certification process and how they relate to the imposition of punishment in this case or any other case involving the death penalty.

As his first allegation of error, Appellant asserts that the imposition of the death penalty against a juvenile is prohibited by both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Specifically he claims that Oklahoma's reverse certification procedure, which provides that a sixteen or seventeen year old is considered to be an adult when he commits certain crimes, does not meet the standard for "death qualification" set by Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976). Appellant misrepresents the purpose of the reverse certification process when he attempts to apply the principals of Gregg solely to the pre-trial reverse certification stage of criminal proceedings.

In Gregg, the Supreme Court analyzed the Georgia system of capital punishment to determine whether the problems confronted in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S.Ct. 2726, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972), had been resolved. In Furman, "the Court held that the penalty of death may not be imposed under sentencing procedures that create a substantial risk that the punishment will be inflicted in an arbitrary and capricious manner." Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U.S. 420, 426, 100 S.Ct. 1759, 1764, 64 L.Ed.2d 398 (1980). In Gregg, the Court held:

Furman held only that in order to minimize the risk that the death penalty would be imposed on a capriciously selected group of offenders, the decision to impose it had to be guided by standards so that the sentencing authority would focus on the particularized circumstances of the crime and the defendant. (Emphasis added).

Id. 428 U.S. at 199, 96 S.Ct. at 2937.

We most recently considered these dictates in Allen v. State, 821 P.2d 371 (Okl.Cr.1991), where we held:

It has long been recognized that a system of capital punishment must meet strict constitutional requirements to be upheld. The primary goal of any such system must be the allowance of individualized sentencing tempered by a controlled amount of discretion, exercisable by the trier of fact.

Oklahoma's system of capital punishment meets the qualifications established by the Supreme Court and on its face is constitutional. Certainly this fact is evidenced by the multitude of Oklahoma cases which have been affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. See Saffle v. Parks, 494 U.S. 484, 110 S.Ct. 1257, 108 L.Ed.2d 415 (1990). The comprehensive statutory sections concerning death penalty proceedings, coupled with proper instructions to the jury in the punishment stage of the trial, guarantee that the death penalty

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will only be assessed against that class of criminals whose crimes set them apart from "any other murder." Zant v. Stephens, 462 U.S. 862, 878, 103 S.Ct. 2733, 2743, 77 L.Ed.2d 235, 251 (1983).

Appellant has focused on the reverse certification process and attempted to bootstrap the requirement of narrowing qualifications into this preliminary, pre-trial stage of the prosecution. Defining the class of offenders potentially eligible for the death penalty is not a function of 10 O.S.Supp.1986, § 1104.2. That section merely determines whether an alleged offender, either sixteen or seventeen years old, may be prosecuted as an adult or whether he should be treated as a juvenile. To the extent that classification as a juvenile is denied, as it was here, then the admittedly young defendant is afforded all the constitutional protections against the arbitrary assessment of the death penalty as is any other defendant.

We find that the statutory processes carried out in the present case afforded Appellant double protection against the unfair assessment of the death penalty. Appellant had the added security of a preliminary determination as to whether prosecution as an adult was appropriate, death penalty concerns aside. If anything, the reverse certification process adds an additional measure of certainty to the entire criminal process.

In connection with Section 1104.2, Appellant also argues that in general, the standards by which reverse certification is measured are arbitrary and capricious. Appellant correctly argues that in order to meet constitutional standards, any system of classification must provide sufficient standards so as to establish a rational basis for the classification. His argument here, however, fails due to his inability to point out any portion of the process or statutory language which offends any of the constitutional protections. We have consistently held that the standards set out by the statute are appropriate and protect the constitutional guarantees of the individual offender. A.M.H. v. State, 766 P.2d 351 (Okl.Cr.1988); G.E.D. v. State, 751 P.2d 755 (Okl.Cr.1988); Trolinger v. State, 736 P.2d 168 (Okl.Cr.1987).

Appellant's next two arguments with regard to the effect of his age concern the actual assessment of the death penalty. He argues that the execution of murderers who were under...

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