Brooks v. State

Decision Date10 July 2020
Docket NumberCR-16-1219
Parties Jimmy Lee BROOKS, Jr. v. STATE of Alabama
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Christopher A. Ford, Tuskegee Institute, for appellant.

Steve Marshall, atty. gen., and John A. Selden, asst. atty. gen., for appellee.

COLE, Judge.

Jimmy Lee Brooks, Jr., an inmate on Alabama's death row, appeals the Talladega Circuit Court's summary dismissal in part and denial in part of his Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., petition for postconviction relief.

Facts and Procedural History

In the evening and into the early morning hours of February 17 and 18, 2002, Jimmy Lee Brooks and Michael David Carruth posed as narcotics officers, entered Forest F. Bowyer's home, and abducted both Forest and Forest's 12-year-old son, William "Brett" Bowyer.1 Carruth and Brooks then took Forest and Brett to a remote location. While there, they took turns slitting Forest's throat with a knife. Brooks then shot Brett in the head three times. Brett fell into a shallow grave. Brooks and Carruth then threw Forest on top of Brett. Brooks and Carruth " ‘laughed and joked as they threw dirt on the dead child and his father.’ " Brooks v. State, 973 So. 2d 380, 387 (Ala. Crim. App. 2007). "After Brooks and Carruth left the scene, [Forest] dug himself out of the grave and flagged down a passing motorist for assistance. [Forest] later identified both Brooks and Carruth as the perpetrators of the crimes."2 Brooks, 973 So. 2d at 387.

Brooks was convicted of four counts of capital murder for killing Brett.3 Brooks was also convicted of attempted murder and first-degree robbery with respect to Forest and of first-degree burglary. After finding him guilty of capital murder, the jury unanimously recommended that Brooks receive the death penalty for his capital-murder convictions. The trial court followed that recommendation. Brooks, 973 So. 2d at 386. The trial court sentenced Brooks to life in prison for his other convictions. Brooks, 973 So. 2d at 386. Brooks appealed.

On March 2, 2007, this Court affirmed Brooks's convictions for capital murder committed during a kidnapping, capital murder committed during a first-degree burglary, and capital murder of a child less than 14 years old and affirmed his death sentence. Brooks, 973 So. 2d at 423. This Court also affirmed Brooks's convictions and sentences for attempted murder and first-degree robbery. Brooks, 973 So. 2d at 423. However, this Court reversed Brooks's conviction for capital murder committed during a robbery and his conviction for first-degree burglary. Brooks, 973 So. 2d at 423. The Alabama Supreme Court denied Brooks's petition for a writ of certiorari on May 18, 2007, and, on that same date, this Court issued a certificate of judgment, making Brooks's direct appeal final.4

On May 16, 2008, Brooks timely filed a Rule 32 petition. (C. 15-111.) In his petition, Brooks raised the following claims:

I. His arrest was illegal and, therefore, "use of any evidence procured, including statements and clothing, should have been suppressed as fruits of that illegality." (C. 23-35.)
I.A. Under Alabama law, the Russell County officers were not authorized to arrest Brooks in Lee County. (C. 23-28.)
I.B. Because his arrest was illegal, his subsequent confession should have been suppressed. (C. 28-34.)
I.C. The Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), warnings read to Brooks before his confession did not cure the illegality of his arrest or the "illegality of using his statements at trial." (C. 34-35.)
II. His trial counsel were ineffective. (C. 36-90.)
II.A. His trial counsel were ineffective during the guilt phase of his trial:
II.A.1. For "failing to challenge the legality of [his] arrest and, accordingly, the use of any evidence procured, including statements, which should have been suppressed as fruits of that illegality." (C. 36-37.)
II.A.2. For "failing to move to dismiss the indictment as to the capital murder committed during the commission of a burglary charge as that charge failed to specify the crime for which [he] was charged." (C. 37-39.)
II.A.3. For "failing to properly object to cumulative and prejudicial video submitted as evidence at trial." (C. 39-40.)
II.A.4. For "failing to adequately argue the motion to suppress [his] statement." (C. 40-45.)
II.A.5. For "failing to perform a factual investigation and to conduct independent tests on evidence used at trial." (C. 45-48.)
II.A.6. For one of his counsel-Charles Floyd III--admitting that he had been ineffective in a motion to withdraw. (C. 48-55.)
II.B. His counsel were ineffective during the penalty phase of his trial:
II.B.1. For failing "to investigate mitigation evidence adequately and present it to the jury and the sentencing court at both the jury and court sentencing hearings" (C. 56-72):
II.B.1.a. By failing "to undertake a reasonable and adequate mitigation investigation." (C. 61-64.)
II.B.1.b. By failing "to discover or present a fraction of the mitigation evidence available through minimal diligence." (C. 64-72.)
II.B.2. For failing "to hire an expert to present any information regarding [his] mental health and/or drug issues." (C. 72-80.)
II.B.3. For failing to "discuss evidence demonstrating the existence of mitigating factors" during penalty-phase closing arguments. (C. 80-83.)
II.B.4. For failing "to present any additional mitigation evidence or argument to counter errors made by the sentencing judge" during the judicial-sentencing hearing. (C. 84-86.)
II.C. "The cumulative effect of trial counsel error violated [his] rights to due process, a fair trial, the effective assistance of counsel, and an individualized sentencing under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Alabama Constitution, and Alabama Law." (C. 87-90.)
III. His appellate counsel was ineffective. (C. 90-91.)
III.A. His appellate counsel failed "to support the claims he did raise and [failed] to raise all meritorious claims." (C. 90-91.)
III.B. The cumulative effect of his appellate counsel's errors violated his rights to "due process, a fair trial, the effective assistance of counsel, and an individualized sentencing" under the United States Constitution, the Alabama Constitution, and Alabama law. (C. 91.)
IV. The trial court erred because it did not consider Brooks's age as a mitigating factor. (C. 91-96.)
V. The trial court erred when it did not grant Brooks's counsel's motion to withdraw. (C. 96-104.)
VI. Alabama's capital-sentencing scheme is unconstitutional. (C. 104-05.)
VII. The jury's death recommendation is "invalid because the verdict form does not specify what aggravating and mitigating circumstances, if any, were considered and found by the jury." (C. 105-06.)
VIII. Alabama's methods of execution constitute cruel and unusual punishment. (C. 106-07.)

The State moved to dismiss Brooks's petition on July 2, 2008. (C. 128-49.)

Brooks then filed his first amended Rule 32 petition. (C. 220-348.) In his first amended petition, Brooks reiterated the claims raised in his original petition and added the following subclaims to his allegation that his trial counsel were ineffective:

II.A.7.5 His trial counsel were ineffective during the guilt phase of his trial for "preventing him from testifying on his own behalf in support of his suppression motion." (C. 253-58.)
II.A.8. His trial counsel were ineffective during the guilt phase of his trial for "failing to retain experts." (C. 260-63.)
II.B.5. His trial counsel were ineffective during the penalty phase of his trial "for failing to object to [the] trial court's improper instruction [to] the jury about the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating circumstance." (C. 311-13.)

Brooks also added the following substantive claims to his petition:

IX. The trial court improperly instructed the jury about the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravating circumstance. (C. 334-35.)
X. The State withheld favorable evidence from the defense. (C. 336-37.)
XI. The State introduced "irrelevant evidence the sole purpose of which was to inflame the jury's passions during the guilt/innocence phase of trial and to prejudice [Brooks.]" (C. 337-40.)

On May 7, 2009, the State moved to dismiss Brooks's first amended petition (C. 361-91), and, on July 10, 2009, the circuit court held a hearing on the State's motion (C. 437; R. 4-68).

On March 24, 2010, the circuit court issued an order summarily dismissing many of Brooks's claims. Specifically, the circuit court summarily dismissed claims II.A.5., II.A.7., II.A.8., and III as insufficiently pleaded (C. 437); it summarily dismissed claims II.B.5. and II.C., finding that those claims failed to state a material issue of fact or law (C. 438); and it summarily dismissed claims I, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XI as precluded under Rule 32.2(a), Ala. R. Crim. P. (C. 438-39).

On August 4, 2010, Brooks filed his second amended Rule 32 petition. (Supp. C. 25-220.) In his second amended petition, Brooks added facts to his claim that his trial counsel were ineffective for failing to challenge both the legality of his arrest and for failing to challenge the use of evidence that stemmed from his illegal arrest. (Supp. C. 47-60.) Brooks also added facts to his claim that his trial counsel were ineffective for failing to hire expert witnesses during the guilt phase of his trial--specifically, Brooks said that his trial counsel should have hired a "gun/ballistics expert, a knife wound

expert, and a fingerprint expert," as well as mental-health experts. (Supp. C. 79-83.) Brooks also added the following subclaims to his ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim:

II.A.9. His trial counsel were ineffective during the guilt phase of his trial for failing to object to improper victim-impact evidence. (Supp. C. 91-95.)
II.A.10. His trial counsel were ineffective during the guilt phase of his trial for failing to object to improper victim-impact
...

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3 cases
  • Burgess v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 23 Junio 2023
    ...names of "experts with whom counsel consulted in the preparation of the Second Amendment Petition" did not meet the requirement, as stated in Brooks, that he "identify by name the witness his counsel should have hired, set out the testimony that the named expert would have given, and plead ......
  • Wimbley v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 16 Diciembre 2022
    ...that the named expert would have given, and plead that the named expert was both willing and available to testify at trial." Brooks, 340 So.3d at 437. although Wimbley identified certain experts by name that he had consulted with, Wimbley neither alleged what those experts would have testif......
  • Wimbley v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 16 Diciembre 2022
    ...to satisfy a Rule 32 petitioner's burden of pleading.' Mashburn v. State, 148 So.3d 1094, 1125 (Ala.Crim.App.2013)." Brooks v. State, 340 So.3d 410, 474 (Ala.Crim.App.2020). Additionally, Wimbley's claim is without merit because his allegations that his counsel moved for a pretrial mental-h......

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