Coleman v. State

Decision Date01 November 1983
Docket Number4 Div. 163
Citation443 So.2d 1355
PartiesWilliam Lloyd COLEMAN v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Ashley McKathan of Powell & Powell, Andalusia, for appellant.

Charles A. Graddick, Atty. Gen., Jean Williams Brown, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.


Appellant was indicted by the Covington County Grand Jury for the offense of burglary in the second degree. The jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged, and the trial court sentenced appellant to twenty-five years' imprisonment. Because the sufficiency of the state's evidence to sustain the conviction is not questioned on appeal, a complete rendition of the facts is unnecessary.

In the early morning hours of May 26, 1982, twelve-year-old Roxanne Marcel awoke in her bedroom at her mother's trailer to find appellant sitting on her bed. When Roxanne attempted to scream, appellant put his hand over her mouth. She testified he hurt her and told her "all I want to do is suck you." The alarm clock sounded in her mother's room at this time and appellant told Roxanne to be quiet and he would leave. Appellant left the trailer and Roxanne slammed the door behind him.

Roxanne stated she could see the man's face that night, and that he and the appellant seated in the courtroom were one and the same man.


Appellant first contends that the trial court erred in charging the jury that a burglary conviction could be based upon either of two alternative specific intent sexual felonies, because the indictment charged only the intent to commit the felony of sexual abuse. The indictment appears in pertinent part below:


Despite the limitation in the indictment to the particular felony of sexual abuse, the trial court charged the jury as follows:

"Now, ladies and gentlemen, this crime of burglary is defined by the statute. It says a person commits the crime of burglary in the second degree, if he unlawfully enters a lawfully occupied dwelling house with intent to commit a theft or a felony therein. So in weighing the evidence to determine if the State has met the burden of proof cast upon it, I would outline to you two felonies which might be embraced within the evidence in this case, but it is your duty and your duty alone to determine whether or not he had the intent to commit a felony.

"The crime of sexual abuse in the first degree is defined as, a person commits this crime, if he subjects another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion. That is a felony. And a person commits the crime of sodomy if he being sixteen years old or older engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person less than sixteen and more than twelve.

"So forcible compulsion would have to be defined to you and then the deviate sexual intercourse would have to be defined for you and sexual contact would have to be defined for you, so you could determine from all of the evidence whether or not this intent existed if, in fact, you find that this Defendant, unlawfully entered into a lawfully occupied dwelling house.

"Sexual contact is any touching of the sexual or intimate parts of a person not married to the actor done for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party. Deviate sexual intercourse is any act of sexual gratification by persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. And forcible compulsion is physical force that overcomes earnest resistance or a threat, expressed or implied, that places a person in fear of serious physical injury to himself or another person."

The judge's charge incorporated and intermingled elements of both first degree sexual abuse under § 13A-6-66(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975, and second degree sodomy under § 13A-6-64(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975. Clearly the charge quoted above defines "forcible sexual contact" under attempted sexual abuse. It defines "deviate sexual intercourse" under attempted sodomy. Both terms are spelled out in § 13A-6-60, Code of Alabama 1975. Despite this fact, the indictment charges on the intent to commit but one specific felony, that of sexual abuse.

An indictment for burglary must set forth and define the felony intended to be committed. Cliatt v. State, 348 So.2d 509 (Ala.Cr.App.1977). The intent is the gravamen of the offense charged, although the intended act need not be carried to completion. Yelton v. State, 56 Ala.App. 272, 321 So.2d 234, cert. denied, 294 Ala. 745, 321 So.2d 237 (1975).

The trial court is without power to add to or take away from any material averment in an indictment. Neither may the trial judge charge the jury upon any issue not properly involved in the trial of the case. Crump v. State, 30 Ala.App. 241, 4 So.2d 188, cert. denied, 241 Ala. 588, 4 So.2d 190 (1941). See Sims v. State, 23 Ala.App. 594, 129 So. 485 (1930). While the trial judge may not charge on abstract propositions of law which are inapplicable to the crime or facts, such charges are not ground for reversal unless the defendant may reasonably be regarded as having been prejudiced thereby. Traywick v. State, 378 So.2d 1196 (Ala.Cr.App.1979). As this court stated in Traywick, supra at 1197: "A trial court will not be put in error for charging a correct principle of law, though it might not be strictly applicable to the case on trial, unless the natural tendency of the charge is to mislead the jury."

It is not altogether clear that the trial judge in charging the jury intended to charge upon two separate felonies. Rather, it seems he attempted to instruct upon definitional elements of the felony of sodomy which he believed the evidence made a part of the crime of sexual abuse charged in the indictment. In the case of Kelley v. State, 409 So.2d 909, 915 (Ala.Cr.App.1981), this court stated:

"The trial court's oral charge must be considered and construed as a whole and in connection with the evidence, and if, when so construed, it asserts a correct proposition applicable to the evidence, then a disconnected part or sentence is not reversible error."

Even if the trial judge's charge is viewed as having charged a distinct felony, it was harmless to appellant. The charge could not have harmed appellant because it required proof of an intent to perform a more specific act of sexual gratification than that required for a finding of sexual abuse. This placed a greater burden on the state than the sexual abuse statute's requirement of "any touching of the sexual or the intimate parts of a person...." See Clements v. State, 370 So.2d 708 (Ala.Cr.App.1978), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 370 So.2d 723 (Ala.1979). We find no basis for reversal on this issue.


Appellant next argues that the trial court erred in denying his "Motion to Dismiss Indictment on Plea of Former Jeopardy." Appellant did not file his motion until February 22, 1983, approximately four months after entering his not guilty plea on October 28, 1982. The conviction upon which he based his plea of former jeopardy was entered on August 17, 1982, well before appellant entered his not guilty plea in the instant case.

Appellant's motion contended that his prior conviction for criminal trespass, third degree, and the instant prosecution both arose "out of the appellant's presence at Little's Trailer Court," and that appellant had been present at the trailer court only once during the time that the two crimes were alleged to have been committed.

The evidence adduced by appellant at the March 8, 1983, hearing on his former jeopardy motion revealed nothing about the underlying facts of the criminal trespass conviction, the nature of the prosecution, or what parties and issues were involved. The witnesses merely indicated that appellant had also been on the premises of the trailer park in August, 1982. Appellant testified he was present at the park only once before, in May, 1982, and not again until August, 1982. Documents introduced by appellant showed he entered a plea of guilty to criminal trespass, third degree, on August 17, 1982. From this evidence appellant contends the trial court should have found that "both of the convictions had to arise out of the same incident at the trailer park in May of 1982 because that was the only other time the defendant was upon the premises."

We note first that appellant's unverified plea or motion was untimely filed, as the record reveals the plea was filed well after a plea of not guilty had been entered. Williams v. State, 348 So.2d 1113 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied 348 So.2d 1116 (Ala.1977). Therefore, the matter is not properly before this court. Jelks v. State, 411 So.2d 844 (Ala.Cr.App.1981).

Even if appellant's plea had been timely filed, there was no prejudice to appellant in the trial court's failure to submit the issue to the jury.

"Ordinarily, an issue of former jeopardy should be tried separately and in advance of the issue of not guilty, and the issue is for the jury. Parsons v. State, 179 Ala. 23, 60 So. 864 (1913).

"However, where the evidence introduced shows without contradiction that the plea could not avail even had the issues been submitted to the jury, a defendant is not prejudiced in his substantial rights by the action of a court in denying such plea without submitting it to the jury. Shiflett v. State, 37 Ala.App. 300, 67 So.2d 284."

Inman v. State, 39 Ala.App. 496, at 104 So.2d 448, at 450 (1958).

A plea of former jeopardy is without merit unless the offense presently charged is precisely the same in law and in fact...

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  • Clark v. State
    • United States
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    ..." 'The intent is the gravamen of the offense charged, although the intended act need not be carried to completion.' Coleman v. State, 443 So.2d 1355, 1358 (Ala.Cr.App.1983)." Garrison v. State, 521 So.2d 997, 1003 (Ala.Cr.App.1986). "The indictment or information shall be a plain, concise s......
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