Head v. State

Decision Date07 October 1980
Docket Number6 Div. 981
Citation392 So.2d 860
PartiesBrenda Sue HEAD v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Larry Waites and J. Wilson Dinsmore of Dinsmore, Waites & Stovall, Birmingham, for appellant.

Charles A. Graddick, Atty. Gen., and Elizabeth Ann Evans, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

DeCARLO, Judge.

Brenda Sue Head was indicted by the Jefferson County Grand Jury for first degree murder of her husband, Roy Anthony Head. At arraignment, with retained counsel present, she pleaded not guilty. After a jury trial, she was found guilty of second degree murder. Later, she was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in the penitentiary.

The evidence at the trial showed that the deceased's natural mother saw her son approximately two days prior to his death. She testified that she later saw his body at the Davenport Smith Funeral Home. Further, she said that her son had been raised by his godmother, Mrs. Margaret Moore Head, from the time he was one year old.

During cross-examination, the witness stated that her son carried a gun in his car.

Margaret L. Head testified that her adopted son, the deceased, owned a 1976 Regal Buick and lived at 901 Goldwire Way, S. W., in Birmingham, with his wife, the appellant. According to the witness, her son had been married to the appellant, a student at Jefferson State College, for about one year.

On June 1, 1978, at about 5:15 p. m., Mrs. Head had met her daughter-in-law, who insisted that the witness have dinner with the appellant and her mother. According to Mrs. Head, this was the first time she had been invited to dine away from home with the appellant; however, the witness had eaten with the appellant on Sundays on a number of occasions.

About an hour after they had returned home, Mrs. Head received a telephone call from the appellant. She sounded excited and told Mrs. Head that there was blood "and something white all over the utility room." At that time, Mrs. Head asked the appellant if she saw the deceased or his automobile. The appellant responded that she did not. Mrs. Head instructed her daughter-in-law to stay there until she arrived and to call the detectives. Before Mrs. Head could leave her house, the appellant appeared and the two drove to the appellant's house. After arriving, Mrs. Head saw "blood and brains all over the utility room." At that point, Mrs. Head called the police. When the police arrived they talked to Mrs. Head and the appellant.

During cross-examination, Mrs. Head testified that her son was found on the Tuesday of the week after June 1, 1978.

Officer L. E. Strickland, an evidence technician for the Birmingham Police Department, responded to a call and went to the nineteen hundred block of 9th Avenue North on June 6, 1978. When he arrived, he saw a 1977 Buick Regal, bearing a '78 tag numbered ABE-687, which was parked in a metered parking area. Although other officers were there, the car and the trunk were still locked. When the lock was pried off the trunk, a body, wrapped in a light colored blanket, was discovered. The body was in a deteriorated state, and photographs were made at that time. A .25 caliber automatic pistol and a Jefferson State ID card belonging to Windrell Floyd were found in the car.

Strickland testified that, on either June 6, 1978, or June 8, 1978, he had gone to 901 Goldwire Way and had made an examination of the utility room. He said that he found "minute reddish stains" on the back of the dryer and the washing machine, but the identity of the stains was never determined.

J. M. Glass, chief of medical investigation for Jefferson County Coroner Medical Examiners' Office, testified that, on June 6, 1978, he had assisted in the performance of an autopsy on the deceased. According to Glass, the body was in a state of advanced decomposition and contained five gunshot wounds, four in the head and one in the chest. Three of the gunshot wounds to the head could have caused Roy Head's death. Glass removed the projectiles from the body and turned them over to the Department of Forensic Sciences.

Lauden Yates, firearms identification expert with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, testified that he received five spent projectiles which had been removed from the deceased's body. These were identified as .22 caliber projectiles of unknown origin.

Detective Sergeant William T. Gaut of the Birmingham Police Department's homicide division was in charge of investigating the death of Roy Anthony Head. Gaut was present when the body of the deceased was recovered from the automobile.

During the trial, an extensive voir dire examination was held out of the presence of the jury. The examination concerned a statement made by the appellant to Sergeant Gaut. The testimony at that voir dire hearing indicated that Gaut's investigation was focused on someone other than the appellant at the time she blurted out an incriminating statement. Sergeant Gaut's testimony indicated that, after talking to her at her home and in his office approximately fifteen times, he had never considered her a suspect.

The issue during the voir dire hearing was whether a statement she made, which was later recorded and transcribed, was in fact voluntary. The defense attorney argued that the inducement held out to the appellant was, in essence, an offer of protection to her. She had stated to Sergeant Gaut and Sergeant Wallace that she was afraid. At the conclusion of the testimony on voir dire, the court ruled that, under the circumstances, a motion to suppress would not be granted.

After the voir dire examination, Sergeant Gaut testified that he had gone to the appellant's home on June 6, 1978. At that time, he observed the utility room "and in an area between the washer and dryer there was substantial amount of bloodstains, both on the floor and on clothing laying there in the floor." On the morning of June 13, 1978, Gaut and his partner, Sergeant Wallace, visited the appellant at her home. That same day, Gaut returned to the appellant's home and had a conversation with her. Before the conversation, appellant was not a suspect and had not been advised of her constitutional rights. During the conversation, the appellant made a statement indicating that she and Windrell Floyd, whose "I" had been found in the deceased's automobile, were the guilty parties in the homicide. Gaut immediately stopped the conversation, advised the appellant of her constitutional rights and carried her to the police station. In the detectives' room at the police station, he again advised her of her constitutional rights, then made a recording of her statement, which was later transcribed. In that statement, the appellant said that the deceased had threatened to kill her many times and that she had told her friend, Windrell Floyd, about the threats. She stated that she had also told her mother, her aunt, and a friend named Toni, about the threats. At the suggestion of her aunt, she had talked to an attorney, Drayton James, and had told him "everything."

The appellant said in the statement, that, about three weeks prior to the homicide, she had discussed with Windrell Floyed, at Jefferson State, the idea of killing the deceased. They developed a plan which was to be carried out on a Thursday afternoon when her husband arrived home.

On the day the deceased was reported missing, Floyd went to the appellant's home. The appellant allowed Floyd to enter the house. Her mother, who lived there, had no knowledge of Floyd's visit. The appellant then left the house with her mother, leaving Floyd alone, and they went to the deceased's mother's home. Floyd waited in the house for the deceased to arrive home. Floyd intended to talk with Head about why he wanted to kill the appellant. According to the appellant, Floyd had to shoot the deceased because he had attacked Floyd. He told the appellant that he had shot the deceased in the head with a .22. She recalled that she had seen Floyd loading the gun in her house on the day of the shooting. Further, she said that Floyd had told her that he had placed the body in the trunk of the car.

In the statement, the appellant said that, when she returned home and saw the blood, she was not sure what had happened. She said she thought "it was Windrell's blood at first." However, the next day she talked with Windrell.

Gaut testified that he had taken the appellant home after the statement was made and did not arrest her until two days later.

At the end of Gaut's testimony, the defense moved to exclude the State's evidence on the grounds that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case.

The motion was overruled and the appellant, after calling a character witness, her next door neighbor, and the attorney, Drayton James, took the stand in her own behalf. The appellant denied that she took any part in the killing of her husband. She testified that she had told Floyd about the threats the deceased had made on her life and that it was Floyd's idea to come to her house on June 1, 1978. According to the appellant, she had told Floyd that the deceased carried a pistol. She also told Floyd that she wanted no part of anyone getting killed or hurt. Further, she said that the deceased had told her that he was going to kill Floyd.

During cross-examination, she admitted that, on Thursday, June 1, 1978, the day her husband was killed, she let Floyd in the house. Further, she admitted that Floyd, at that time, showed her a pistol and she saw him load it.


The appellant contends that the trial court committed reversible error when it denied the portion of her motion to produce pertaining to the co-defendant's, and accomplice's, statement because the denial deprived her of information pertinent and material to the preparation of her defense.

Immediately prior to empanelling the jury, the defense counsel brought to the court's attention the motion to produce which he had previously filed. At that time, the...

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2 cases
  • Kennedy v. State, 7 Div. 966
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • January 31, 1984
    ...v. State, 282 Ala. 268, 276, 210 So.2d 826 (1968). This rule applies to statements of accomplices and co-defendants. Head v. State, 392 So.2d 860, 863 (Ala.Cr.App.1980), cert. denied, 392 So.2d 869 (Ala.1981); McLaren v. State, 353 So.2d 24, 32-3 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 353 So.2d 35 (A......
  • Ex parte Head
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • January 29, 1981
    ...(Re: Brenda Sue Head v. State of Alabama). 80-106. Supreme Court of Alabama. Jan. 29, 1981. Certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals, 392 So.2d 860. FAULKNER, WRIT DENIED NO OPINION. TORBERT, C. J., and ALMON, EMBRY and ADAMS, JJ., concur. ...

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