Crosslin v. State, 8 Div. 533

Decision Date01 November 1983
Docket Number8 Div. 533
Citation446 So.2d 675
PartiesSamuel Daniel CROSSLIN v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

HARRIS, Judge.

The opinion released on July 5, 1983, is withdrawn and this is substituted therefor.

Appellant was indicted and convicted for the capital offense of murder in the first degree wherein two or more human beings are intentionally killed by one or a series of acts in violation of Alabama Code § 13A-5-31(a)(10) (Supp.1977). The victims in this case were appellant's niece, Bobbie Sue Morris, and her husband, Barry Glendon Morris. Appellant shot each of them twice in the back of the head, execution style, with a .38 caliber Charter Arms Special. His punishment was fixed at death by electrocution. At arraignment, in the presence of counsel, appellant pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. Appellant is represented by court-appointed counsel on this appeal, as he was at trial, and has been furnished with a free transcript.

The facts surrounding this senseless crime proved without question that appellant and Dale Pounders drove to the victims' trailer some time around 3:00 a.m. on July 30, 1980, after visiting appellant's sister and nephew at the Colbert County Hospital. By telling the victims that his nephew in the hospital "was supposed to die," that "they needed to go and see him," appellant was able to gain entrance inside the victims' trailer. Once inside, appellant "pulled his revolver out" and ordered the victims to get on their stomachs. Appellant then tied the victims' hands behind their backs, unloaded the victims' .22 rifle and told them "he was going to take their pot." Then, after telling Pounders to "pull the coil wire" on the victims' Datsun pickup truck and after appellant had put a "big bag" of marijuana into his van, appellant led the victims to a brush pile behind their trailer where he summarily shot them.

By showing the detailed series of events which occurred just prior to the offense, during the res gestae of the offense and immediately after the offense, the State presented very strong evidence fully supportive of the jury verdict. Every element necessary to prove that appellant committed the capital offense was clearly established, including the element that the killings were intentional. The State presented convincing evidence that the slayings were calculated and were executed methodically. The precautionary steps taken by appellant prior to and during the commission of the crime suggest that appellant was well aware of what he was doing and intended the very consequences of his acts.

The State's evidence in this case proved conclusively the defendant's involvement in the murders of Barry Glendon Morris and Bobbie Sue Morris. The first witness called by the State was Dr. Joseph Embry, who was a doctor from the Department of Forensic Science, State of Alabama, who performed the autopsy on both bodies. His autopsy of July 30, 1980, established that each of the victims had been shot twice in the back of the head, producing large caliber bullet wounds. The bullets entered the back of the skull and penetrated the brain of each of the victims, Barry and Bobbie Sue Morris. These wounds caused the death of both of the victims. Dr. Embry testified that, in addition to similar bullet wounds in a similar position on both bodies, both bodies were found to have their hands tied behind their backs.

The State's next two witnesses were local law enforcement officers who were on duty on the night of July 29 and the morning of July 30, 1980. Mr. Harget testified that, on the night in question, he received two phone calls in regard to this matter. The first came from Cherokee Police Officer Bogas at approximately 3:53 a.m. on the date of July 30. He received a second call from a person whose voice he recognized as the defendant's at approximately 4:01 a.m. The defendant at this time indicated that there were three children in the trailer at the Morrises and that they needed to be taken care of. The caller would not identify himself. The next witness, Officer Bogas, testified that he received a call on the morning in question at the Cherokee Police Department. This caller indicated that there were three children inside the Morris trailer and that Morris and his wife were outside behind the trailer.

Colbert County Deputy Sheriff Dale Holley was dispatched to the Morris trailer on Highway 72 East. En route, he was followed by a Cherokee patrol car and he proceeded to the Morris trailer. Upon receiving no response at the door, the officers went inside the trailer to find only the sleeping children. A search of the area behind the trailer produced the bodies of Bobbie Sue and Barry Glendon Morris. They appeared to have been shot in the back of the head; both had their hands tied behind their backs.

Mrs. Pamela Crosslin, wife of the defendant, was called to the stand by the State. She chose to invoke her privilege not to testify against her husband. At this point the State offered her prior testimony which was taken at the preliminary hearing of the defendant. This testimony was later admitted and read into the record at page 164 of the transcript.

Mickey Wayne Dison testified that, on the night of July 29 and morning of July 30, he had been at his motel room when the defendant came over. The defendant asked Dison to go to Cherokee to "rip off some pot." Dison indicated that he had to go to work the next day and would not go with him. Defendant then left but returned several hours later with a .38 pistol and a .22 rifle and a garbage bag full of marijuana. At the defendant's return to the motel room, Dison's girl friend left the room and went into the bathroom. With the defendant was one Dale Pounders. When they came into the room, the defendant threw some pot on the bed and said, "I did it, you didn't think I was losing my touch, did you? But, I didn't leave no witnesses." Upon being asked what he was talking about, the defendant stated, "I'm talking about I tied them up and laid them down and blew their fucking brains out." At this point Dison was asked to keep the guns there at his motel room for the defendant. Dison agreed to do so and received some marijuana for this favor. Dison testified that he woke up the next morning but did not go to work. He read about the murders in the newspaper. At that point, he called the defendant, asking him to pick up the guns. During the conversation, Cynthia Vaden asked the defendant if he shot them twice in the head and the defendant said he had.

Cynthia Vaden testified that she was with Dison in the motel room the night in question. Her testimony clearly supported that of Dison. She stated that while she was in the bathroom she watched and listened through the door to everything that was said. She verified that the defendant admitted to Dison and Pounders that he did it. This witness also indicated that Pounders told Dison that the defendant had in fact blown their heads off. Ms. Vaden also testified as Dison had that, after this second visit to the motel room, the defendant came back approximately 20 to 30 minutes later. At this point, the defendant expressed concern about the pistol and suggested that it be buried or thrown in the river. Both Vaden and Dison testified that the guns were returned to the defendant at a point in Florence, Alabama, on the following day.

The State's next five witnesses showed a clear chain of purchases and sales of the .38 Charter Arms pistol used to murder the Morrises. The testimony indicated clearly that the pistol was purchased at Barber's Appliance Store in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in June of 1979, then changed hands several times before being sold to the defendant some three months before the murder. This same pistol was shown to be the one used to cause the death of the Morrises.

Officer John Morse testified that he arrested the defendant in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 4, 1980. At that time the defendant had in his possession a ring which was marked as State's Exhibit 23. This ring was later identified as one belonging to the deceased Barry Morris. There was testimony that the deceased Morris had this ring the night before his death.

Officer Ronnie May of the Colbert County Sheriff's Department testified that, on the day after the discovery of the bodies, the defendant had become a suspect. He, along with other officers, proceeded to the defendant's house, and upon their arrival the defendant stated that he knew what they wanted to talk to him about. At this point the defendant said, "It's about those niggers killing Bobbie Sue and Barry." A search was made of the defendant's house with his consent and later the defendant and Pounders consented to be fingerprinted, photographed, and have hair samples removed for the investigation. Further testimony from officers indicated that a comb was found at the scene on the night that the bodies were discovered. This comb was later admitted to be Pounders'.

Dale Pounders testified as to the defendant's actions on the night in question, indicating that the defendant had been using drugs and was high that night. The defendant told this witness that he wanted him to go to Cherokee to get some pot. They proceeded to Cherokee in the defendant's van at which time the defendant indicated that he wanted to beat Bobbie up. On the way the defendant went to the back of the van and retrieved some electrical wire. He also cleared his .38 revolver, saying "he was going to get Barry." They went to the trailer of the Morrises, leaving the motor of the van running. Upon going in, the defendant and Pounders talked with the Morrises and the...

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