Cargill v. State

Decision Date18 March 1986
Docket NumberNo. 42698,42698
Citation255 Ga. 616,340 S.E.2d 891
PartiesCARGILL v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

William J. Smith, Dist. Atty., Columbus, Douglas C. Pullen, Asst. Dist. Atty., Michael Davis, Staff Asst. Atty. Gen., Michael J. Bowers, Atty. Gen., for the State.

MARSHALL, Presiding Justice.

The appellant, David Loomus Cargill, was convicted of two counts of murder and two counts of armed robbery. The evidence shows that the appellant's brother, Thomas Philip Cargill, was an accomplice to these crimes. The appellant was given the death penalty for the murder convictions. His case is here on direct appeal, for review under the Unified Appeal Procedure (252 Ga. A-13 et seq.) and for the sentence review required by OCGA § 17-10-35. For reasons which follow, we affirm. 1

The victims, Danny and Cheryl Williams, were a young couple with four male children under the age of ten years. Cheryl Williams worked part-time at the Premium Oil Service Station on River Road in Bibb City. On the evening of Tuesday, January 22, 1985, Danny Williams came to the station to assist his wife after putting their children to bed.

Later in the evening of January 22, the Williamses were found face down in the service station. They were both dead. They had each sustained two bullet wounds in the head. Gunpowder residue indicated that Cheryl Williams had been shot from a distance of less than two feet. Medical testimony further established that both victims had been lying on the floor at the time they were shot. Approximately $482.79 in cash had been taken from the service station, as well as a knife belonging to Danny Williams and valued at $35. The cash formed the basis for one count of armed robbery of which the appellant was convicted, and the knife formed the basis for the other armed-robbery count.

Mr. John McCollum of Opelika, Alabama, testified that he owned a light green, 1969, half-ton pickup truck with a gray right-front fender, and a dog box in the back of the truck. Mr. McCollum testified that this truck had been stolen from him on the evening of Wednesday, January 16, 1985. This truck was seen near the Premium Oil Service Station on the night of the murders. Katherine Sue Brown lives in Phenix City, Alabama, and she is a cousin of Thomas (also known as Tommy) Cargill's wife. She testified that on the weekend prior to January 22, 1985, she had seen Tommy and David Cargill in Phenix City, and they were in possession of a truck, which she identified as the truck belonging to John McCollum. Mr. Hoyt Eugene Ledford is Tommy Cargill's wife's uncle, and Tommy was living at his house in Phenix City at the time of the murders. Mr. Ledford testified that on the day of the murders, David and Tommy Cargill were in possession of a truck fitting the description of John McCollum's truck.

Brenda Cargill Mathis and the appellant were married in 1983, and they divorced shortly after the appellant's arrest in this case. At the time of the murders, the appellant was living with her and a child of hers by a previous marriage. She testified that several times she heard the appellant talk about the "big crime" or the "big one" and that he would not leave any witnesses, because, "[d]ead men don't talk." She identified a photograph of John McCollum's truck as being the truck of which the appellant was in possession at the time of the murders. She testified that the appellant had given her various items, which were identified by John McCollum as being items which belonged to him and which were in the truck at the time it was stolen. Other similarly identified items were found in the appellant's apartment.

Brenda Mathis further testified that on the morning of January 22, Tommy Cargill came to her and the appellant's apartment. The appellant told him to come back when it got dark. Tommy left in the truck. Later that evening, Tommy came back. As recounted by Brenda, Tommy then said to the appellant, " 'The girl,' or either, 'the girls are there alone'; that he had just went by there." There was a gun which the appellant had previously given to Brenda for safekeeping, telling her not to leave any fingerprints on it. The appellant took the gun, put it in his pocket, and said to Tommy, " 'Good. Let's go.' "

Brenda testified that, to the best of her recollection, the appellant came back to the apartment between 9:00 and 10:00 o'clock that evening. Although he had not had any money when he left, when he returned he had a large box of Kentucky fried chicken, as well as other food including chocolate pudding. While they were eating, she noticed what appeared to be blood on his shirt sleeve. He looked around the room to see if anyone was watching; he then took some chocolate pudding and rubbed it into the blood. A report concerning the armed robbery later appeared on television. "And David said, he laughed--well, not laughed but 'Aha, they must not have got anything.' " Later that evening, he gave her approximately $150 to $175, and he told her, if anybody asked, to tell them that it was child-support money she had received from her former husband. Later in the week, the appellant and Brenda were watching a news report on television concerning the crimes. Brenda testified, "They said they had witnesses in the murders, and David stood and laughed and said, 'No, there wasn't any witnesses.' "

Patrick Tidwell testified that around 9:00 to 10:00 o'clock on the evening of January 22, he encountered the appellant at the Robert E. Lee Lounge, and he gave the appellant a ride home. En route, he stopped at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, and the appellant bought "a big family-sized thing of chicken" and some other food. Tidwell testified that the appellant had a lot of money at the time.

A pistol identified as the murder weapon was found hidden under a dog house in the back yard of Hoyt Ledford's house. It was in a plastic bag, and no fingerprints were found on it. Clinton Layfield testified that he had purchased this gun from Andy Ferguson, and that he, Layfield, in turn sold it to the appellant. When the appellant accepted delivery of the pistol, he indicated that he intended to shoot someone with it.

Travis Allred, who had been the appellant's next-door neighbor, testified that he had had a conversation with the appellant concerning some "easy money." According to Allred, the appellant said, " 'Well, I've been scoping out this place on River Road and I want to rob it and I know where the safe is and everything, but if the people there, you know, identify me that they would--that he would have to kill the people. And I just said, 'O.K.' you know and walked off from him.' "

Brenda Mathis testified that on the Saturday night after the crimes were committed, she and the appellant went with Richard Whitley to a club called Screamin' Willie's. They stayed until the club closed at 2:00 a.m. On the way back, the appellant said he was tired of Clinton Layfield's "bad mouthing" him. He said it was about his buying a gun from Layfield. They went to Layfield's apartment, and the appellant set it on fire. On the following Monday, a news report came on television in which it was stated that there was believed to be some connection between the fires and the murders. Brenda informed the appellant of this. He said that he was going out to get a cup of coffee, and that was the last time she saw him. She subsequently went to Tommy Cargill's to try to find out where the appellant was. When he would not tell her, she threatened to go to the police. Tommy said, " 'Don't go to the police. It will just make things worse for us. We've got enough on us.' "

Walter Holler testified that he encountered the appellant at Screamin' Willie's on the Saturday night after the murders. He approached the appellant, propped his arm on the appellant's shoulder, and said, "How about it, David?" The appellant responded " 'Get out of my face. I killed two. One more wouldn't matter.' "

The appellant was subsequently arrested on February 13, 1985, at a motel in Columbus, Georgia. Numerous, heavily armed law-enforcement officers were used to effect the arrest. After being arrested, the appellant was read his Miranda rights both before and after being placed in the patrol car. However, he was not interrogated until approximately 40 to 45 minutes after his arrest at police headquarters.

The interrogation was conducted by Columbus Police Department Detectives Rudolph Lovell and Eugene Allmond. The appellant was again read his rights by Detective Allmond, and he indicated that he understood them. Detective Allmond began the interrogation. He showed the appellant photographs of Danny and Cheryl Williams, both before and after they were murdered. Detective Allmond discussed the stolen Ford pickup truck, the murder weapon, and certain items of clothing which the appellant had been wearing on the night of the murders. Detective Lovell brought Brenda Mathis into the room; he told the appellant what had been related to him; and he asked Brenda Mathis, "Is what I have just said true and do you intend to testify to that in court?" She looked at the appellant and said, "Yes, it's all true and I will testify to it in court."

Detective Allmond told the appellant what the appellant's brother Tommy had said. The appellant responded, "All of you son of a bitches are alike. The only time [he] would've said anything to you is if you beat hell out of him ... I don't care what you say, I don't know what you're talking about and I'll admit it--I mean I'll deny it to my dying day ... f--- you." At this point, Detective Allmond left the room and Detective Lovell began interrogating the appellant.

Detective Lovell brought a tape recorder into the interrogation room, and he played a taped message from Tommy Cargill to the appellant, which reads as follows:

"Uh, David, this is...

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