Boyd v. State, CR-18-0288

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtMINOR, Judge.
Citation306 So.3d 907
Decision Date25 October 2019
Docket NumberCR-18-0288
Parties Nathan Lee BOYD v. STATE of Alabama

306 So.3d 907

Nathan Lee BOYD
v.
STATE of Alabama

CR-18-0288

Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.

October 25, 2019
Rehearing Denied December 20, 2019
Certiorari Denied April 10, 2020
Alabama Supreme Court 1190267


Brad Phillips, Florence, for appellant.

Steve Marshall, atty. gen., and P. David Bjurberg, asst. atty. gen., for appellee.

MINOR, Judge.

Nathan Lee Boyd was convicted of capital murder in 2000 for the 1999 killing of Joseph Danny Sledge during a first-degree robbery. See § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Ala. Code 1975. Boyd was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Because Boyd was 17 years old when he killed Sledge, he was granted a resentencing proceeding pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. ––––, 136 S. Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016). At the conclusion of that proceeding, the circuit court again sentenced Boyd to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Boyd appeals. We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

In this Court's unpublished memorandum affirming Boyd's original conviction and sentence on February 22, 2002, this Court provided the following factual background of Boyd's crime:1

306 So.3d 912
"On the morning of March 12, 1999, Bonnie Clemmons, an employee of The Galley, a restaurant in Florence, Alabama, found the owner-operator, Joseph Danny Sledge, dead in a pool of blood. He had been stabbed 23 times and, ultimately, the knife blade had broken off in his spine.

"Testimony revealed that Boyd had worked for Sledge during the summer of 1998. On March 11, 1999, Boyd and his brother went to The Galley and ordered food. There was some discussion as to the fact that they had brought in beverages, which was against The Galley's policy, and Boyd and his brother took their food ‘to go,’ and left.

"On Friday, March 12, 1999, Donna Hawk, another employee of The Galley, took her niece to work with her. Sledge bought $20.50 worth of rolled pennies from Hawk's niece. Hawk wrote her name, address, and telephone number on the penny rolls. Sledge placed the penny rolls in a bucket under the register.

"Later that same evening, Boyd and his brother came back to the restaurant and ordered a glass of water. Boyd argued with a waitress about the price of water and left. The waitress left the restaurant around 8:00 p.m. This was the last time Sledge was seen alive.

"At around 9:10 p.m., Gary Bowlin was driving past The Galley and noticed a small red pick-up truck exiting the parking lot. The truck nearly collided with Bowlin, and, as Bowlin took measures to avoid hitting the truck, he saw the face of the passenger in the front seat and noticed that the passenger was taking off his shirt. At trial, Bowlin identified Boyd as the passenger.

"On Sunday, March 14, 1999, after receiving an anonymous tip, officers recovered a bank money bag, receipts, checks made out to The Galley, and a t-shirt floating in the water near Goose Shoals Bridge. On Monday, March 15, 1999, law enforcement received a phone call from Bowlin regarding the red pick-up truck that had nearly hit him when it was exiting the parking lot of The Galley. Also on that date, the Boyd brothers' parents went to the Sheriff's Department, concerned that their sons may have been involved in Sledge's murder. Officers, accompanied by the Boyds' parents, went to the Boyd brothers' apartment, and found a red pick-up truck parked behind the apartment. The officers went to the door, knocked, and obtained consent from Boyd's brother to search the apartment and the truck. In the apartment, officers found the rolled coins with Hawk's name, address, and telephone number written on them. One of the investigators called Hawk, and she explained how Sledge had purchased the pennies from her niece. Boyd and his brother were arrested. Boyd had cuts and abrasions on his left hand.

"In custody at the Sheriff's Department, Boyd waived his Miranda [v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966),] rights and agreed to make a statement. In his tape-recorded statement, Boyd implicated his brother. Boyd was then transported to the detention center, but, as he arrived, he expressed a desire to ‘tell the truth.’ (R. 681.) The officers escorted Boyd back to the Sheriff's Department. Boyd then
306 So.3d 913
gave a second tape-recorded statement. In his second statement, Boyd admitted that both he and his brother had participated in the murder and robbery of Sledge.

"DNA evidence from Boyd's t-shirt and his brother's shoe identically matched a blood sample from the victim. DNA evidence also revealed that the Boyd brothers' DNA was present in blood samples taken from a tan cap found at the scene of the crime. One of Boyd's acquaintances testified that Boyd had previously expressed a desire to rob and kill Sledge. Boyd impeached the witness by eliciting testimony that the acquaintance engaged in recreational drug use and that the acquaintance had given two inconsistent statements regarding Boyd's desire to kill someone.

"Boyd testified in his own defense. He testified that he and his brother went to The Galley on March 11, 1999, because they ‘planned on robbing it’ (R. 920), but did not follow through with the robbery plans and left. He testified that, after a day of drinking, smoking marijuana, and planning, he and his brother returned to The Galley on March 12, 1999. Boyd ordered a glass of water, and the two left. Boyd and his brother drove around that night until they saw the waitress leave.

"Boyd testified that he hid beside a door and rushed in when he heard Sledge unlock it. Sledge ‘took off backwards towards the kitchen area,’ but Boyd grabbed and held Sledge while the brother came through the door. (R. 931.) The brother hit Sledge in the face and ‘more or less put him on the ground.’ (R. 931.) Boyd picked up Sledge by the back of his pants and carried him to the kitchen. Boyd held a B.B. gun, which resembled a pistol, on Sledge while Eric tied him up with a fan cord. Boyd testified that he and his brother became distracted by headlights in the window, and Sledge somehow managed to free his hands and grabbed a knife. Boyd testified that Sledge ‘c[ame] up at [him] with the knife.’ (R. 932). Boyd tried to get the knife away from Sledge while the brother kicked Sledge back down onto the floor. The brother took a knife from the counter and stabbed Sledge several times. Sledge continued to kick, and the brother then stabbed him in the legs and in the stomach. Boyd could not wrestle the knife from Sledge's hand, ‘until he died.’ (R. 933.) Boyd testified that

" ‘[a]t one point in time he -- he just got strong -- I don't know -- I guess it was just a ... burst of adrenaline and [Sledge] pushed ... me and I fell back. It had kinda got a little slippery from all the blood, and when [Sledge] came over on top of me and the knife was on my chest, and about that time I heard a loud pop. And he just relaxed and went limp. And when that happened, I just stood up and threw him off of me.’

"(R. 933-34.) Boyd testified that his brother then picked up a money bag, the bucket of change under the cash register, and Sledge's wallet, and the two left."

On October 6, 2000, a jury found Boyd guilty of capital murder under § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Ala. Code 1975.2 At the conclusion

306 So.3d 914

of the penalty phase, the jury unanimously recommended that Boyd be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The circuit court followed that recommendation.3

This Court, as noted, affirmed Boyd's conviction and sentence. Boyd, 854 So. 2d 1215 (Ala. Crim. App. 2002) (table). The Alabama Supreme Court denied Boyd's petition for certiorari on September 13, 2002. Ex parte Boyd (No. 1011331), 876 So. 2d 519 (Ala. 2002) (table).

Boyd obtained the current resentencing proceeding through a petition he filed under Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., in 2013. In that petition, his second Rule 32 petition, Boyd sought relief under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), in which the United States Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. The circuit court granted Boyd's petition on January 6, 2014. This Court, however, reversed the circuit court's judgment based on this Court's holding in Williams v. State, 183 So. 3d 198 (Ala. Crim. App. 2014), that Miller did not apply retroactively. See State v. Boyd, 183 So. 3d 236 (Ala. Crim. App. 2014). Once the matter was remanded to the circuit court, that court granted Boyd's request to stay the petition while the Supreme Court of the United States considered the petition then pending in Montgomery v. Louisiana, 575 U.S. 911, 135 S. Ct. 1546, 191 L.Ed.2d 635 (2015). After the decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. ––––, 136 S. Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016), in which the United States Supreme Court held that its decision in Miller applied retroactively, the circuit court again granted Boyd's petition for resentencing pursuant to Miller.

Over the next couple years, Boyd filed several motions for expenses for investigation and for expert assistance, as well as motions related to discovery matters. The circuit court appears to have granted most of Boyd's motions. Before the resentencing...

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4 practice notes
  • Wynn v. State, CR-19-0589
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 28, 2021
    ...279 (Ala. 2004), quoting in turn Delbridge v. Civil Serv. Bd. of Tuscaloosa, 481 So. 2d 911, 913 (Ala. Civ. App. 1985)))."Boyd v. State, 306 So. 3d 907, 917-18 (Ala. Crim. App. 2019). "A trial court abuses its discretion only when its decision is based on an erroneous conclusion of law or w......
  • Jones v. State, CR-19-0485
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 6, 2021
    ...[a defendant] to relief.'" Wynn v. State, [Ms. CR-19-0589, May 28, 2021] ___So. 3d___, ___ (Ala.Crim.App.2021) (quoting Boyd v. State, 306 So.3d 907, 919 (Ala.Crim.App.2019)). "It is well settled "' "[w]here a trial judge imposes a sentence within the statutory range, this Court will not di......
  • Martin v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc. (Ex parte Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc.), 2190468
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • April 24, 2020
    ...because West Fraser conducted business unrelated to this case there. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion 306 So.3d 907 in denying West Fraser's motion for a change of venue. The Chambers Circuit Court is hereby directed to transfer this action to the Lee Circ......
  • Cowan v. State, CR-20-0145
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • December 17, 2021
    ...of capital murder. Last, we review the circuit court's findings on the Henderson factors for an abuse of discretion. See Boyd v. State, 306 So.3d 907 (Ala.Crim.App.2019). As stated above, Cowan further argues that the circuit court erred in finding that he was incapable of being rehabilitat......
4 cases
  • Wynn v. State, CR-19-0589
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 28, 2021
    ...279 (Ala. 2004), quoting in turn Delbridge v. Civil Serv. Bd. of Tuscaloosa, 481 So. 2d 911, 913 (Ala. Civ. App. 1985)))."Boyd v. State, 306 So. 3d 907, 917-18 (Ala. Crim. App. 2019). "A trial court abuses its discretion only when its decision is based on an erroneous conclusion of law or w......
  • Jones v. State, CR-19-0485
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 6, 2021
    ...[a defendant] to relief.'" Wynn v. State, [Ms. CR-19-0589, May 28, 2021] ___So. 3d___, ___ (Ala.Crim.App.2021) (quoting Boyd v. State, 306 So.3d 907, 919 (Ala.Crim.App.2019)). "It is well settled "' "[w]here a trial judge imposes a sentence within the statutory range, this Court will not di......
  • Martin v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc. (Ex parte Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc.), 2190468
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • April 24, 2020
    ...because West Fraser conducted business unrelated to this case there. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion 306 So.3d 907 in denying West Fraser's motion for a change of venue. The Chambers Circuit Court is hereby directed to transfer this action to the Lee Circ......
  • Cowan v. State, CR-20-0145
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • December 17, 2021
    ...of capital murder. Last, we review the circuit court's findings on the Henderson factors for an abuse of discretion. See Boyd v. State, 306 So.3d 907 (Ala.Crim.App.2019). As stated above, Cowan further argues that the circuit court erred in finding that he was incapable of being rehabilitat......

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