Barbee v. State, 6 Div. 458

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation395 So.2d 1128
Docket Number6 Div. 458
PartiesTimothy Franklin BARBEE v. STATE.
Decision Date17 March 1981

Page 1128

395 So.2d 1128
Timothy Franklin BARBEE
6 Div. 458.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
March 17, 1981.

Page 1130

Michael L. Tucker, Birmingham, for appellant.

Charles A. Graddick, Atty. Gen., Deborah H. Biggers, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

BOWEN, Judge.

The defendant was indicted 1 and convicted for theft of property in the first degree. Alabama Code 1975, Section 13A-8-3. Sentence was ten years' imprisonment. Six issues are presented on appeal.


Although the defendant cites as error the excusal of Mrs. Mullins from the jury venire, he does not argue this point in brief.

The trial court granted the State's challenge for cause and excused Mrs. Mullins from jury service. In response to a question by defense counsel during his voir dire examination of the jury venire, Mrs. Mullins indicated that she did not wish to sit on the jury because she would "have to sit in judgment of a fellow human being." Under questioning by the State and the trial court, Mrs. Mullins stated that she wouldn't want to sit on any criminal jury and that she might be able to decide guilt or innocence, but she "wouldn't want to be any part of sending anybody to jail." Even when informed that the judge did the sentencing, Mrs. Mullins stated that she would still feel like she would be a part of it and could not participate in any criminal case with a "good conscience". Mrs. Mullins also stated: "I might be able to decide in my mind whether he was guilty or innocent. I don't feel qualified."

Defense counsel objected to the striking of Mrs. Mullins on the ground that "the proper predicate" had not been established.

In Tidmore v. City of Birmingham, 356 So.2d 231, 234 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 356 So.2d 234 (Ala.1978), this Court set out the test for determining whether a venireman should be disqualified because of personal opinions or conscientious scruples. Generally, a juror is incompetent who has such personal opinions with respect to the subject matter of the suit, or conscientious scruples, on any subject, as would influence his verdict. The test to be applied is can the juror eliminate the influence of his scruples and render a verdict according to the evidence. Ordinarily a juror is not disqualified where it appears that he is willing

Page 1131

to follow the instructions of law given by the trial court and is able to decide the case impartially according to the evidence notwithstanding his scruples. The determination of this question is based on the juror's answers and demeanor and is within the sound discretion of the trial judge. Tidmore. A juror is incompetent whose answers show that he would follow his own views regardless of the instructions of the court. Watwood v. State, 389 So.2d 549, 550 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 389 So.2d 552 (Ala.1980).

After having the law explained to her, that she was not responsible for sentencing the accused, Mrs. Mullins stated that she could not participate in a criminal case with a "good conscience". Upon the responses of Mrs. Mullins, the trial judge properly determined that the State's challenge for cause was due to be granted and that she was incompetent to serve as a juror. The decision of a trial court to disqualify a juror on a challenge for cause is entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on appeal unless clearly shown to be an abuse of discretion. Motes v. State, 356 So.2d 712 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, Ex parte Motes, 356 So.2d 720 (Ala.1977); Baxley v. State, 18 Ala.App. 277, 90 So. 434, cert. denied, Ex parte Baxley, 206 Ala. 698, 90 So. 925 (1921). We find no clear and erroneous abuse of discretion in this case. The fact that another judge or court would not have reached the same legal conclusion as the trial judge in this particular case does not necessarily mean or establish an abuse of discretion.


The defendant argues that the evidence the State introduced regarding venue is inadequate to prove that the crime of theft in the first degree occurred in Jefferson County.

The defendant was employed by Charlie Strong who managed Earl Schieb Auto Paints in Birmingham, which is in Jefferson County. On January 23, 1980, Mr. Strong sent the defendant to Ensley "to do an estimate on a car." This Court takes judicial knowledge and notice that Ensley is in Jefferson County. Hall v. State, 213 Ala. 325, 104 So. 826 (1925); Howard v. State, 172 Ala. 402, 55 So. 255 (1911); May v. State, 22 Ala.App. 239, 114 So. 423 (1927). He gave the defendant the keys to the chevrolet which Mr. Strong owned and told him to be back in the shop in less than 45 minutes. Mr. Strong never again saw the defendant with his automobile. Mr. Strong learned of the whereabouts of his Chevrolet when he received a telephone call from the Sheriff of Bibb County.

On January 31, 1980, the Bibb County Sheriff's Office arrested the defendant on an unrelated charge. They checked the license tag number of the Chevrolet the defendant admitted driving and discovered that the car had been reported stolen out of Birmingham.

There is no merit to the defendant's contention that there is no evidence that the car was taken by the defendant from the victim in Jefferson County or that the State failed to prove venue.

The issue of whether the defendant had the "intent to deprive" Mr. Strong of his car was for the jury. From the evidence, the jury reasonably concluded that the defendant intended "(t)o withhold property or cause it to be withheld from a person permanently or for such period or under such circumstances that all or a portion of its use or benefit would be lost to him." Alabama Code 1975, Section 13A-8-1(2), defining the term "deprive".

The defendant obtained or exerted "unauthorized control" 2 over the automobile when he used the car for a

Page 1132

purpose other than that for which the car had been entrusted to his care with the requisite intent. "When an offense is committed partly in one county and partly in another or the acts or effects thereof constituting or requisite to the consummation of the offense occur in two or more counties, venue is in either county." Alabama Code 1975, Section 15-2-6. See Draughon v. State, 29 Ala.App. 385, 196 So. 290 (1940), where it was held that venue was a question for the jury where, in a prosecution for embezzlement, the accused received money in one county as an agent and failed to deliver the money to his principal whose business place was in another county. Where a crime is begun in one county and consummated in another, venue is in either county. Manson v. State, 349 So.2d 67 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 349 So.2d 86 (Ala.1977).

The defendant maintains that the trial judge abused his discretion in interrogating two witnesses.

The first instance of alleged error occurred when Mr. Strong was on the witness stand. From the record:

"Q. (ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY): Was this defendant included in they?

"A. That's who his father was talking about.

"MR. TUCKER (Defense Counsel): Judge, I object to whether the defendant was included in they, or whether that statement was ever made.

"THE COURT: Don't say they. Did the defendant ever state the defendant in talking about they?

"THE WITNESS: The father knew the defendant had the car.

"MR. TUCKER: See, I object.

"THE COURT: I don't care what the father knew. I'm sure you don't know what the father knew unless he told you.


"THE COURT: Well, that's what we're asking. What did he say about the defendant?

"THE WITNESS: The defendant said that Timothy had the car. He had been seen. He had even driven it back to his house once or twice and then drove off.

"MR. TUCKER: Your Honor, that's clearly hearsay evidence. I object and move to exclude.

"THE COURT: He's laying a predicate just exactly like you were.

"MR. TUCKER: Your Honor, I asked whether the defendant had made this statement or this statement in substance."

The second instance of alleged error occurred after both sides had completed their examination of the mother of the defendant.

"THE COURT: I've got some (questions). After that day, did you talk to him while he was down in Centreville at your daughter's house?

"A. No, sir, I didn't go to Centreville.

"THE COURT: I didn't say that.

"THE COURT: Did you talk to him on the phone or just talk to him while he was in Centreville and you up here?

"THE WITNESS: When he was in Centreville jail?

"THE COURT: At any time, from the time the car disappeared to the time you heard he was in jail, did you talk to him on the telephone?

"THE WITNESS: I talked to Buddy Vaughn.

"MR. TUCKER: Judge, I object. I don't know what she's going to say.

"THE WITNESS: I don't know what she's going to say either. That's exactly why I asked the question.

"MR. TUCKER: We object.

"THE COURT: Who is Buddy Vaughn?

"THE WITNESS: Buddy Vaughn is...

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