Floyd v. State, No. CR-05-0935 (Ala. Crim. App. 8/29/2008), No. CR-05-0935.

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtWise
PartiesChristopher Anthony Floyd v. State of Alabama.
Decision Date29 August 2008
Docket NumberNo. CR-05-0935.

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Christopher Anthony Floyd
State of Alabama.
No. CR-05-0935.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
Decided August 29, 2008.

Appeal from Houston Circuit Court (CC-04-1670)

On Return to Remand.

WISE, Judge.

Christopher Anthony Floyd was convicted of capital murder for intentionally murdering Waylon Crawford during the course of a robbery. See § 13A-5-40(a)(4), Ala. Code 1975. The jury recommended by a vote of 11 to 1 that Floyd be sentenced to

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death. The trial court accepted the jury's recommendation and sentenced Floyd to death. This appeal followed.

One of the issues raised on appeal by Floyd was that his due-process rights were violated when the prosecution used its peremptory challenges to remove African-Americans and females from the jury venire, thus violating Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), and J.E.B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127 (1994). On September 28, 2007, this Court remanded this case for additional action by the circuit court with regard to this claim. Floyd v. State, [Ms. CR-05-0935, Sept. 28, 2007] ___ So. 2d ___ (Ala. Crim. App. 2007). The circuit court has complied with our instructions and on return to remand has submitted a transcript of the Batson and J.E.B. hearing conducted by the circuit court, together with a copy of the circuit court's specific findings of fact regarding Floyd's Batson and J.E.B. claim.


The State's evidence tended to show that at the time of his death, the victim, Waylon Crawford, and his wife Melinda owned and operated Waller's Grocery, a small grocery store in Houston County. The evidence further indicated that on the

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evening of February 15, 1992, while working at the store, Crawford was shot in the chest and throat with a shotgun and died as a result of his injuries.

Melinda Clements testified that she was married to the victim at the time of his death. She stated that Crawford typically carried a wallet in his pocket and that he usually kept currency in his pocket but not in his wallet. According to Clements, she had opened the store on the morning of February 15, 1992, and left around 6:00 or 6:30 that evening because of a medical condition. She stated that when she left for the evening, there was approximately $200-$400 in cash in the wooden cash drawer behind the counter.1 She stated that she received a telephone call at approximately 8:30 that evening telling her to return to the store.2

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Ricky Vann testified that at the time of the murder, he was an investigator with the Houston County Sheriff's Department. According to Vann, the victim's body was discovered lying against the front door of the store at approximately 8:30 p.m. The testimony further indicated that investigators did not discover a wallet or any currency in the victim's pockets, nor was there any currency in the wooden cash drawer behind the counter.

Dr. Alfredo Paredes, a forensic pathologist with the State of Alabama, testified that he conducted the autopsy on the victim. According to Dr. Paredes, the victim was shot in the chest and neck area with a shotgun. Dr. Paredes stated that he observed more than 20 entrance wounds inflicted by individual pellets discharged from a single shotgun blast. He further testified that the shot cup or wadding was lodged in the victim's throat.

Eddie Roberts, a correctional officer at Easterling Correctional Facility, testified that in September 2004 Floyd told him that he was "having suicidal thoughts" and wanted to speak with a supervisor. (R. 547.) Officer Roberts stated that Floyd then admitted to him that he had killed someone.

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According to Officer Roberts, Floyd claimed that he committed the murder while he was drinking and on drugs to get money and that he watched the individual die.

Keith Cook, an investigator with the Houston County Sheriff's Department, testified that he interviewed Floyd on September 27, 2004, at which time Floyd confessed to the murder. In that confession, Floyd told Investigator Cook that he had borrowed a truck from Paul Wayne Johnson, driven to Waller's Grocery, entered the store wearing a mask and brandishing a shotgun, and demanded money. Floyd further claimed that Crawford grabbed the shotgun, that the shotgun discharged, that Crawford was struck by the blast, and that Floyd then took money from the cash register and fled. He further testified that Floyd provided details consistent with the crime scene such as the location of the victim's body. Investigator Cook also stated that Floyd claimed to have taken approximately $400 in the murder-robbery. In his confession, Floyd stated that after he fled the store he went to his grandmother's house and changed clothes. During the statement Floyd claimed to have ingested alcohol and cocaine before the murder-robbery, that he did not intentionally shoot Crawford,

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that he did not think he even had his hand on the trigger, and that he did not think the shotgun was even operational. Floyd further indicated in his statements that he had disposed of the shotgun by placing it in an automobile crusher in Panama City, Florida. Floyd spoke with authorities a number of times following his initial confession and claimed responsibility for the robbery-murder during each interview.3

Robert Floyd, Jr., testified for the defense that he was Floyd's cousin. According to Robert, on the night of the murder, he was at his house, which he stated was approximately four or five miles from Waller's Grocery, and that his brother, Paul Wayne Johnson, borrowed his pickup truck around 7:00 or 7:45 p.m., and returned approximately 45 minutes later. Robert stated that Johnson's .410 shotgun was in the truck at the time Johnson borrowed the truck. Robert conceded on cross-examination that it could have been as late as 8:30 p.m. when Johnson borrowed the truck. Robert further conceded

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that he was smoking marijuana on the evening of the murder, and that he did not see any blood on Johnson's clothing or the truck.

Robert Charles Dixon testified for the defense that he met Paul Wayne Johnson several years earlier when they were both incarcerated at Fountain Correctional Facility. In 2000, Dixon wrote letters to the district attorney's office and police investigators indicating that he had information in Crawford's murder. Dixon claimed that Johnson had confessed to committing the offense.

Johnson testified that he had used alcohol and crack cocaine on the evening of the murder. He stated that he was unsure as to whether his .410 shotgun was in the house or in his brother's truck on the evening of the murder. He admitted to borrowing his brother's truck on the evening of the murder to go to where his girlfriend, whom he claimed was coming to pick him up, had gotten lost. Johnson stated that he returned to his brother's a few minutes later and that he later went with his girlfriend to a nightclub. According to Johnson, sometime after the murder he eventually traded the shotgun to a drug dealer in Malone, Florida, for $40 worth of crack

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cocaine. Johnson denied telling anyone he had committed the murder.

The jury found Floyd guilty of the capital offense charged in the indictment. A separate sentencing hearing was held. See § 13A-5-46, Ala. Code 1975. The jury recommended, by a vote of 11 to 1, that Floyd be sentenced to death. A presentence report was then prepared as required by § 13A-5-47, Ala. Code 1975, and the circuit court held a separate sentencing hearing. After hearing testimony, the circuit court sentenced Floyd to death. This appeal, which is automatic in a case involving the death penalty, followed. See § 13A-5-53, Ala. Code 1975.

Standard of Review

Floyd has been sentenced to death. According to Rule 45A, Ala.R.App.P., this Court must review the record of the proceedings for "plain error." Rule 45A, Ala.R.App.P., states:

"In all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed, the Court of Criminal Appeals shall notice any plain error or defect in the proceedings under review, whether or not brought to the attention of the trial court, and take appropriate appellate action by reason thereof, whenever such error has or probably has adversely affected the substantial right of the appellant."

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In describing this standard of review, this Court has stated:

"`The standard of review in reviewing a claim under the plain-error doctrine is stricter than the standard used in reviewing an issue that was properly raised in the trial court or on appeal. As the United States Supreme Court stated in United States v. Young, 470 U.S. 1, 105 S.Ct. 1038, 84 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985), the plain-error doctrine applies only if the error is "particularly egregious" and if it "seriously affect[s] the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings." See Ex parte Price, 725 So. 2d 1063 (Ala. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1133, 119 S.Ct. 1809, 143 L.Ed.2d 1012 (1999); Burgess v. State, 723 So. 2d 742 (Ala.Cr.App. 1997), aff'd, 723 So. 2d 770 (Ala. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1052, 119 S.Ct. 1360, 143 L.Ed. 2d 521 (1999); Johnson v. State, 620 So. 2d 679, 701 (Ala.Cr.App. 1992), rev'd on other grounds, 620 So. 2d 709 (Ala. 1993), on remand, 620 So. 2d 714 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 905, 114 S.Ct. 285, 126 L.Ed.2d 235 (1993).'"

Smith v. State, 795 So. 2d 788, 797-78 (Ala.Crim.App. 2000), quoting Hall v. State, 820 So. 2d 113, 121-22 (Ala.Crim.App. 1999).

A number of the specific arguments raised on appeal were never brought to the circuit court's attention. However, the "failure to object at trial does not bar our review of these

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issues; however, it does weigh against any claim of prejudice he now makes on appeal." Brooks v. State, 973 So. 2d 380, 387 (Ala. Crim. App. 2007) (opinion on application for rehearing).


Floyd first argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statements to the police. Specifically, Floyd contends that his statements were due to be...

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