Ford v. State

Decision Date25 February 1986
Docket Number7 Div. 327
Citation515 So.2d 34
PartiesPernell FORD, alias v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Merrill Vardaman and John Thomason, Anniston, for appellant.

Charles A. Graddick, Atty. Gen., and William D. Little, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

BOWEN, Presiding Judge.

In 1984, Pernell Ford was indicted and convicted for the capital murders of Linda Gail Griffith and Willie C. Griffith, committed during the course of a burglary, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(4), Code of Alabama 1975. Sentence was death by electrocution.

The trial court's findings of fact from the guilt phase of the trial are:

"That on December 2, 1983, at approximately 7:15 p.m. the bodies of Willie C. Griffith and her daughter Linda Gail Griffith were found in their residence at 417 Goodlett Street, Jacksonville, Calhoun County, Alabama. The bodies were discovered by one Odell McGinnis, a family friend of the victims. The discovery of the victims' bodies was reported to the Jacksonville Police Department and an investigation was immediately commenced by the said Jacksonville Police Department, the Office of the District Attorney of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Forensic Sciences of the State of Alabama and the Office of the Coroner of Calhoun County, Alabama. It was determined that night that the victims each apparently died from multiple stab wounds to the head, neck and trunk, that the house showed signs of a physical struggle and that certain items of personal property belonging to the victims were missing. Among the personal property missing from the premises was one 1978 Chevrolet Caprice automobile, tan in color, bearing Alabama license plate 11B-9461 and bearing vehicle identification number 1N69V83273152.

"On the following day, Saturday, December 3, 1983, at approximately 12:30 p.m., Illinois State Troopers, Steve Gregurich and Loren Cowdrey, had the occasion to encounter the above described automobile while the same was being operated by the Defendant, Pernell Ford, on Interstate 55 at or near Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois. Said troopers' attention was directed toward said automobile as a result of the same being operated at approximately 73 miles per hour on a highway with a maximum posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour. The automobile was stopped by said troopers for speeding.

"Upon investigation, it was determined that the driver of the subject automobile was unable to produce a valid driver's or operator's license. Upon further investigation it was determined that the Defendant gave the said officers a false name, namely Jessie Willie Griffith, and that he was in the possession of numerous credit cards belonging to Linda Gail Griffith, one of the victims. The investigation further produced the discovery of a loaded 38 caliber pistol being transported in said automobile by the Defendant and this, combined with the Defendant's inability to produce a valid operator's license for the vehicle he was driving, resulted in the custodial arrest of the Defendant.

"Subsequent to the Defendant being transported to the headquarters office of District 9 of the Illinois State Troopers in Springfield, Illinois, the troopers' investigation further produced the discovery of credit cards and other identification type documents issued to Linda Gail Griffith and Willie C. Griffith in the possession of the Defendant. A telephone call made at the request of the investigating officers to the residence of Linda Gail Griffith and Willie C. Griffith in Jacksonville, Alabama, disclosed that said victims had been found apparently murdered on the night before. This precipitated a full felony investigation on behalf of the Illinois State Police.

"The investigation by the Illinois State Police determined that the Defendant was in the possession of numerous items of personal property belonging to Linda Gail Griffith and Willie C. Griffith, that the automobile he was operating likewise contained numerous items of personal property belonging to said victims, that the automobile contained a cardboard box which bore what appeared to be a sharp instrument cut or stab type hole around which a reddish brown substance appeared, that a glove with a reddish brown stain on it was found, that certain articles of clothing which appeared to have been recently purchased and in new condition were also found.

"A fugitive charge was placed against the Defendant, a major felony case investigation was commenced wherein the Defendant's clothing was seized and secured, fingernail scrapings were had, the Defendant was fingerprinted and the automobile was fully processed by a crime scene technician and the items contained within it were seized and secured.

"The Defendant waived extradition to the state of Alabama and Chief Paul Locke of the Jacksonville Police Department and Investigator Charles Winfrey of the Office of the District Attorney of the Seventh Judicial Circuit accepted custody of the Defendant, the victim's automobile and all items of evidence found in the possession of the Defendant at the time of his arrest. The Defendant was returned to the State of Alabama as was the evidence and property seized.

"At trial, evidence and testimony was produced to the effect, and the Court specifically finds, that the victims in this case, Willie C. Griffith and Linda Gail Griffith, were the victims of a homicide and that the death of each of said victims was caused by multiple stab wounds to the head and body. The Court further finds that the preponderance of the wounds inflicted on both victims were apparently inflicted from the back, and laboratory tests disclosed that both victims had blood types of a similar nature.

"From the evidence and the testimony presented at trial, the Court further finds that the Defendant's blood type was not consistent with the blood groupings of the victims. The Court finds further that the blood sample of the Defendant was obtained by law enforcement officers by consent, that the same was properly handled and that the same was properly analyzed by laboratory experts of the Department of Forensic Sciences.

"The Court further finds from evidence and testimony presented at trial that a fingerprint of the Defendant was found upon the glove box of the automobile discovered in his possession in Springfield, Illinois, and that the glove box contained a 38 caliber pistol which was later identified as being the property of the victim, Linda Gail Griffith. The Court further finds that numerous items of personal property discovered in said automobile, including, several credit cards, identification cards, purses, photographs, a gold necklace, a coupon file, a key ring containing keys and other items were identified as belonging to the victims and missing from their home. The cardboard box found in said automobile at the time of the Defendant's arrest was found to contain or have upon it tracings of blood compatible with the blood types and subgroupings of the victims and not compatible with the blood type and subgroupings of the Defendant's blood.

"From evidence and testimony produced at trial, the Court further finds that an examination of the Defendant's clothing produced the discovery of blood stains or residue on the shoes, socks, pants and shirt of the Defendant. The lab tests conducted by qualified experts on those blood samples disclosed that the traces of blood on the Defendant's shoes, socks and shirt were human blood of indeterminable type and that the blood stains found on the pants were human blood of a type and subgroup or subgrouping consistent with the blood of the victims and inconsistent with the blood of the Defendant.

"From the evidence and testimony the Court further finds that the glove found in the automobile in the possession of the Defendant on December 3, 1983, in Springfield, Illinois, bore upon it a stain which was later determined by laboratory experts of the Department of Forensic Sciences to be human blood of a type consistent with the blood of the victims and not consistent with the blood of the Defendant. It was further shown by competent evidence and testimony, and the Court finds, that upon said glove was also found a human hair consistent with the hair of the victim, Linda Gail Griffith, and fibers consistent with fibers comprising the clothing worn by the victim, Linda Gail Griffith, at the time of her death.

"The Court further finds from the evidence and testimony that on December 10, 1983, the Defendant, after full and complete explanation of his constitutional rights and with a full and complete voluntary, intelligent and knowing waiver of the same, gave to Chief Paul Locke and Officer Kyle Sanders an inculpatory statement. From the evidence and testimony, specifically through the testimony of Chief Paul Locke, the Court finds that said statement, in substance, disclosed that the Defendant admitted entering into the residence of the victims without consent for the purpose of committing a theft therein, that he was discovered by the victims, that the victim, Linda Gail Griffith, attempted to prevent his escape and that he stabbed her, that the victim, Willie C. Griffith, was 'raising so much Cain' that he killed her and that he stole numerous items of personal property within the house, one of the items being the pistol found in the automobile, and that he fled the scene in the 1978 Caprice Chevrolet automobile in which he was stopped in Springfield, Illinois.

"The Court, based upon the evidence and testimony and the Defendant's inculpatory statement, finds that the Defendant, Pernell Ford, intentionally caused the death of the victim, Willie C. Griffith, and the death of the victim, Linda Gail Griffith, during a Burglary in the First Degree or Burglary in the Second Degree or an attempt thereof committed by the Defendant as defined in § 13A-5-40(a)(4). While the Indictment in this...

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  • Arthur v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 8, 1996
    ...426, n. 72 (D.C.Cir.1983), cert. denied, 465 U.S. 1027, 104 S.Ct. 1285, 79 L.Ed.2d 688 (1984) (emphasis in original)." Ford v. State, 515 So.2d 34, 43 (Ala.Cr.App.1986), aff'd, 515 So.2d 48 (Ala.1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1079, 108 S.Ct. 1061, 98 L.Ed.2d 1023 (1988). "As the court said i......
  • Hart v. State
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    • February 28, 1992
    ...age at the time of the offense was a mitigating circumstance. This question is strikingly similar to a question posed in Ford v. State, 515 So.2d 34 (Ala.Cr.App.1986), aff'd, 515 So.2d 48 (Ala.1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1079, 108 S.Ct. 1061, 98 L.Ed.2d 1023 (1988), which this court found......
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