Gissendanner v. State
|03 March 2006
|949 So.2d 956
|Emanuel Aaron GISSENDANNER, Jr. v. STATE of Alabama.
|Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Joseph J. Gallo, Daleville; and Bill Kominos, Ozark, for appellant.
Troy King, atty. gen., and J. Clayton Crenshaw and Jasper B. Roberts, Jr., asst. attys. gen., for appellee.
Emanuel Aaron Gissendanner, Jr., was indicted on three counts of capital murder and one count of possession of a forged instrument. Count I of the indictment alleged that Gissendanner murdered Margaret Snellgrove by inflicting head and neck injuries and that he did so during the course of a rape, § 13A-5-40(a)(3), Ala. Code 1975. Count II alleged that Gissendanner murdered Snellgrove during the course of a kidnapping, § 13A-5-40(a)(1), Ala.Code 1975. Count III alleged that Gissendanner murdered Snellgrove during the course of a robbery, § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Ala.Code 1975. A separate indictment charged Gissendanner with possessing or uttering a forged check drawn on Snellgrove's bank account, in violation of § 13A-9-6, Ala.Code 1975. Following a jury trial, held on August 13, 2003, through August 16, 2003, Gissendanner was convicted of the two counts of capital murder — charging murder during the course of a robbery and murder during the course of a kidnapping — and possession of a forged instrument; the jury found him not guilty of murder made capital because it was committed during the course of a rape. The trial court held a sentencing hearing before the jury, and the jury recommended, by a 10-2 vote, that Gissendanner be sentenced to death. On December 19, 2003, after a separate sentencing hearing before the court, the judge sentenced Gissendanner to death on the capital-murder convictions. The trial court also sentenced Gissendanner, a habitual offender, to life imprisonment for the forgery conviction. On January 12, 2004, Gissendanner filed a motion for a new trial. After a hearing on February 11, 2004, the trial court denied the motion. This appeal follows.
The trial court's sentencing order contains a detailed summary of the relevant evidence presented in this case. We adopt the trial court's findings as our own and will include additional facts to the extent necessary to resolve the issues presented on appeal. The trial court's December 19, 2003, order states, in pertinent part:
Gissendanner first argues that the trial court erred when it denied the motion he made pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986); in his motion Gissendanner had argued that the venire should be quashed because the prosecutor exercised peremptory strikes to remove six of nine blacks from the venire. He also argues on appeal that the trial court erred when it failed to require the prosecutor to give his reasons for his strikes. Gissendanner has not identified any specific juror who he says was erroneously struck. The State argues that the trial court correctly denied Gissendanner's Batson motion because he failed to make a prima facie showing that the prosecutor had exercised his peremptory challenges in a discriminatory manner and that, because Gissendanner failed to establish a prima facie case, the prosecutor was not required to state reasons for his strikes. We agree with the State.
After the parties struck the jury, Gissendanner made a Batson motion. He listed the numbers of the black veniremembers struck by the prosecutor and stated:
The trial court asked Gissendanner whether he had anything else to support his Batson motion; Gissendanner replied that he had nothing else. The court then determined that Gissendanner had failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. The court initially indicated that it would require the prosecutor to state his reasons for his strikes, but after the prosecutor objected and the parties presented arguments to the court, the court determined that the prosecutor would not be required to give reasons for his peremptory strikes. The trial court's ruling was correct.
This Court has previously addressed the claim now raised. In Wimberly v. State, 931 So.2d 60 (Ala.Crim.App.2005), defense counsel made a Batson motion based solely on the numbers of black jurors who were struck from the venire. The trial court denied the motion without requiring the prosecutor to give his reasons for his strikes. In Wimberly we stated:
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