Botsford v. State, 7 Div. 309

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation54 Ala.App. 482,309 So.2d 835
Docket Number7 Div. 309
PartiesBruce BOTSFORD, alias v. STATE.
Decision Date26 November 1974

[54 Ala.App. 483] Crowder & Espy, P.A., Tuscaloosa, for appellant.

William J. Baxley, Atty. Gen., Montgomery, and Roger M. Monroe, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Birmingham, for the State.

[54 Ala.App. 484] DeCARLO, Judge.

Bruce Botsford was indicted for first degree murder, and after a trial, was convicted of second degree murder with punishment fixed at thirty years.

The evidence presented at trial showed that the body of Rev. Edward Pace was found just inside his front door about 8:00 P.M. on November 26, 1973. His death resulted from gunshot wounds to the chest.

State's witness, Charles Ronald Battles, testified that he was with Gene and Phillip Arledge at the Ku Klux Klan hall on November 26, 1973, when appellant and Rickey Arledge arrived. Later, while standing in front of the Klan hall, he witnessed appellant and Rickey drive up to Rev. Pace's house and shoot him.

The shots were heard by Phillip Ramsey, who worked at the Dairy Queen across from the Pace residence. Appearing as a defense witness, he stated that upon looking out of the window, he saw a white car parked in front of the house with a man at the wheel. He observed another man enter on the passenger's side, and stated it was not the appellant. He described the driver as having an afro hairdo, and in his judgment, both men were black.

Along with the foregoing evidence, the state offered this confession made by the appellant while in custody:

'Date December 3rd, 1973

'STATEMENT OF: Bruce Wheeler Botsford, WM, age 22

3322 Stonewall Avenue

Gadsden, Alabama

'My name is Bruce Botsford, I am 22 years of age, I live at 3322 Stonewall Avenue in Gadsden, Alabama. I have had my rights explained to me, and I do understand my rights that I do not have to make any statements and that I have the right to remain silent, that anything that I say can be used against me in a court of law, that I have the right to talk to a lawer (sic) for advice before any questions are ask me, and to have him with me before any questions are ask me. I therefore do not want a lawer (sic) present and I also understand that I can stop at any time during the questioning until I talk to a lawer (sic). I have had my rights explained to me and I am willing to make this statement and answer questions, I know what I am doing, no promises or threats have been made to me and no pressure or coercion of any kind has been used against me. Monday morning, November 26th, 1973 everybody was told to meet at the Klavern on Stroud Avenue in East Gadsden, Alabama at approximately 5:30 p.m. We all got there, well I went and got Rickey Arledge at the Base at Ft. McClellan to inform him of the meeting, as soon as Rickey got free from work, we went together to the Klavern on Stroud Avenue in East Gadsden, Alabama, It's right across the street from the Dairy King. When we got there we were

told by Gene Arledge that we were going to burn this man's house, the late Rev. Pace which we didn't know at the time. It turned out that we could not burn it, so I won't swear to it but I believe it was Gene Arledge that said to just go right on over there and just go right in and get them. So. Rickey Arledge said that he would back [54 Ala.App. 485] me up if I would go. We got into Gene Arledges' Beige Plymouth, both Rickey Arledge and I had a Carbine .30 calibre, (sic) and I was carrying a Rossi .38 Calibre (sic) pistol snub nose, which belonged to Gene Arledge. I was standing in front of the Klavern and Gene Arledge handed me the .38 Calibre (sic) Rossi Pistol. The carbine that I also had, belonged to Rickey Arledge. It was in the car at the time that Gene Arledge gave me his pistol,. Well, we got into the car and drove over to the street beside the building and there were some people standing there behind a building so we pulled up in front of Rev. Pace's house and backed into his front yard leaving our headlights on facing East Broad Street. I was the driver of Gene Arledges' car and Rickey Arledge was in the front seat with me, we both got out of the car, we each were carrying a .30 calibre (sic) carbine rifle, and I also had a .38 calibre Rossi in a sholder (sic) holster. Rickey Arledge and I went up on the front porch, and I believe I knocked on the front door, when Rev. Pace come to the front door, when Rev. Pace come to the front door, we both opened fire with the carbine rifles, the door swung open and I could not see anybody else there so we both ran back to the car and I was driving at the time I noticed my pistol missing we proceeded towards Anniston, we went and picked up Rickey Arledges' girlfriend and went back to Rickey Arledges' trailer, I took Rickey Arledges Fait and one .30 Calibre Carbine that Rickey Arledge used in the shooting and headed back to Gadsden, Alabama. I went directly back to Gene Arledges' house, got out of the car and give the carbine to James Ray Johnson while we were standing in the front yard. James Ray Johnson said he would hide the gun so I stayed and talked with Gene Arledge who come out of the house after I got there. Gene Arledge asked me where I was going and I said back to Anniston. I went back directly to Rickey Arledges trailer and we were going to dispose of the second .30 calibre carbine rifle and Rickey Arledge didn't want to just destroy it, so Rickey Arledge wrapped it in plastic and placed it under the brick steps to his trailer, it is actually slid up against inside the concrete block steps where I saw him hide it. We took Mary-? who is a WAC at Ft. McClellan home, who knows nothing about what is going on. We then both went to bed then and the next morning November 27th, 1973 on Tuesday, we got up and went to Rickey Arledges' Grand Fathers House in Greasy Cove, Alabama. We spent all day there leaving about two thirty or three o'Clock P.M., We went from there to Gene Arledges' house at 3322 Stonewall Avenue in Gadsden, Alabama. I picked up what clothes we had there that were clean and went back to the trailer near Anniston. We did not know at the time that we had killed Rev. Pace, but I do know that we shot him. I think I shot the carbine I had 3 or 4 time, I could not swear to it. I just know we fired several times and Rickey was standing to my left rear firing his weapon. This shooting happened so fast that if I could just go back to the house I could tell who shot where into the door. Any fired shoots to the LEFT of the house is the ones I fired, and those to the RIGHT angle are those shots Rickey Arledge fired. (see attached sketch of automobile and house of Rev. Pace that I sketched for Assistant Chief of Police Gerald Diggs, Captain James A. Davis, and Investigator J. D. Longshore) The fact is that when we went into this darn thing I did not know that it was a Minister. Gene Arledge had led us to believe[54 Ala.App. 486] that this was a Surveillance point on the Klavern, indicating the Black Panthers and that there would be weapons present. I had no idea that this was a preacher, when we went in there we expected to find armed people, that is why we were so cautious, oh' yes, one other thing, I was led to believe by Gene Arledge that this shooting was santioned by the UNITED KLANS OF AMERICA, but afterwards learned it was santioned by only Gene Arledge himself. James Ray Johnson was very mad that this shooting happened when he found out about it this same night. Rickey Arledge said that it would be best if I left and I had met a Fred Jones with Gene Arledge once before in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida about a month and a half ago, and I done a little commerical (sic) fishing and I figured I could get a job down there. So I borrowed Rickey Arledges' motorcycle (sic) and $10.00 and started to leave for East Pass Marina in Florida, I believe it is in Destine (sic) Florida. This was the night that the storm hit (on Tuesday) and I couldn't get out of Gadsden. I had started back to Gadsden on the motorcycle and it rained to hard for me to leave, so when the rain actually hit I was close to another Klansmans' house so I went there and told him I was rained in and needed a place to stay the rest of the night. This was Rex Johnson's house near Agricola Shopping Center. Rex Johnson told me I could spend the night there and as far as I know he knew nothing about the shooting in any way and was not involved in it in any way. As far as Rex knew I was just rained in and couldn't get anywhere. I spent the night with Rex Johnson and got my clothes dried out and left there about 12:30 the next day on Wednesday November 28th 1973 headed for Ft. Walton Beach Florida. I arrived there in Ft. Walton just after dark, I called Fred Jones and told him that I needed a place to stay and a job and that I was a fried (sic) of Gene Arledge. He gave me Jeff Faulkners telephone number, I had met him previously, he (Fred Jones) had given me the wrong telephone number and I couldn't get a hold of him, So I spent the night right there in a shed at the edge of the Marinia. The next morning Fred Jones came to the Marinia (sic) and I asked him if he could find me a job and a place to stay-? He said that he was going fishing, that I could work with him, so we spent Thursday the 29th of November 1973, Friday the 30th of November 1973 and Saturday December 1st 1973 fishing. on Sunday morning I was arrested

'I swear that the above statements made by me is (sic) correct and true to the best of my knowledge. I have made these statements of my own free-will and accord without threats or promise of reward to me in any way.

'/s/ Bruce Wheeler Botsford


Gerald Diggs

Don Longshore

James A. Davis'

Prior to trial, appellant sought to have the confession suppressed. He did not deny making and signing it, but challenged that he did so voluntarily. Appellant insisted that he was 'forced to endure some seven and one-half hours...

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    ...venue is a matter left to the sound discretion of the trial court. Turner v. State, 410 So.2d 458 (Ala.Cr.App.1981); Botsford v. State, 54 Ala.App. 482, 309 So.2d 835 (Ala.1974); Nelson v. State, 440 So.2d 1130 (Ala.Cr.App.1983). This is generally the law because the trial judge is in the b......
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