Hewlett v. State, 8 Div. 626

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation520 So.2d 200
Docket Number8 Div. 626
PartiesGilbert HEWLETT v. STATE.
Decision Date13 October 1987

Page 200

520 So.2d 200
8 Div. 626.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
Oct. 13, 1987.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 10, 1987.
Certiorari Denied Feb. 26, 1988
Alabama Supreme Court 87-193.

Page 201

Raymond Uhrig of Uhrig, Munger & Howard, Huntsville, for appellant.

Don Siegelman, Atty. Gen., and Jean Williams Brown, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

TAYLOR, Judge.

The appellant, Gilbert Hewlett, was convicted of child abuse, assault in the second degree, and rape in the first degree, and received consecutive sentences of ten years, ten years, and life imprisonment. Three issues are raised on appeal.

The State's evidence tended to show that on January 30, 1985, the appellant brought his fourteen-year-old daughter (the victim) back to Harvest Elementary School after an absence of several days. Appellant told Patsy Raby, the school's instructional leader, that the victim's absence was due to bad weather and frozen pipes. However, Ms. Raby observed that the victim had several noticeable scratches and bad sores on her face and arms. She also noticed several patches of missing hair on the victim's head. Appellant explained these injuries by stating that the victim had been unruly and that he was "about to get her back to where she would obey him."

Judy Schwartz, a special education teacher at Harvest, testified that the victim had been in her class. She described the victim as a slow, loving, kind, hardworking student. The victim was absent from school many consecutive days in January, and when she returned to school on January 30, Ms. Schwartz observed the missing hair, burn marks, and swollen lips on the victim.

The victim was taken to an emergency shelter for neglected and abused children. The next day Billie Long, director of the

Page 202

shelter, observed that the victim had blood oozing from large areas on her legs. Ms. Long then took the victim to Dr. Robert Stewart's office. Dr. Stewart examined the victim and found she had large, ulcerating wounds on her thighs, as well as injuries to her face, arms, and head. He admitted her to the hospital to care for these injuries.

Dr. Theresa Spalding examined the victim upon admission to Huntsville Hospital. In addition to the ulcerated leg wounds, she observed multiple scars and abrasions all over the victim's body. Dr. Spalding also saw loss of hair on the victim's scalp and saw both old and new scars on her face. She further observed fingernail scars on the victim's ears and raised scars on her arms. The skin on the victim's right cheek was so thin that Dr. Spalding could see the blood vessels underneath. Such a condition was caused by repeated trauma to her face. A vaginal inspection revealed that the victim had a bacterial infection usually the result of sexual intercourse. The victim remained in the hospital for approximately two weeks, during which time she told Dr. Spalding that her father had beaten her.

The victim testified that her father, the appellant, had beaten her on the legs with a chair leg, and as a result, she had had to stay in the hospital a long time. Three days after her father beat her, he used scissors to try to remove skin from her left leg. Her father also pulled her hair out, tried to pull her ears off, and tried to choke her. The appellant also beat the victim on her back, which caused her back to be severely scarred. The victim stated that while she was in the seventh grade her father also had sex with her on more than one occasion. She said she did not let him have sex with her, but did not try to stop him because she was afraid he would do something crazy like try to hurt her. While she was in the seventh grade the victim also had sex with several of her father's friends. The victim identified photographs of herself depicting the injuries inflicted on her by the appellant.

The State's last witness was Lee Weaver, an investigator with the Madison County Sheriff's Department. Ms. Weaver testified that after she informed appellant of his Miranda rights, he told her that he had been having trouble with the victim for some time, in that she was having sexual relations with several of his friends. Appellant admitted that he had hit the victim with a paddle, and subsequently noticed blood coming from her clothes. The victim told appellant the bleeding was caused by his paddling. Appellant further said he must have caused her other injuries, and admitted that his anger sometimes got the best of him. He also told Ms. Weaver that the victim "had put spells on him" which kept him from moving his hands.

Appellant's defense consisted of attacking the credibility of the victim as a witness, attempting to prove that she was mentally retarded, and contending that she was obsessed with sex.


Appellant first contends that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the child victim to testify without first being examined by the court to determine her capacity to testify.

Section 12-21-165(a), Code of Alabama 1975, provides that "[p]ersons who have not the use of reason, such as idiots, lunatics during lunacy, and children who do not understand the nature of an oath, are incompetent witnesses." However, with regard to children, an exception has been made to § 12-21-165(a). Section 15-25-3(c), Code of Alabama 1975 (1986 Supp.), provides:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law or rule of evidence, a child victim of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, shall be considered a competent witness and shall be allowed to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16 cases
  • Travis v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 18 Abril 1997
    ...offense charged and must also sufficiently apprise the accused of what he or she must be prepared to defend against. Hewlett v. State, 520 So.2d 200 (Ala.Cr.App. 1987), cert. denied, 520 So.2d 200 (Ala. Cr.App.1988)." Breckenridge v. State, 628 So.2d 1012, 1015-16 (Ala.Cr.App.1993). "... `I......
  • Huff v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 15 Marzo 1991
    ...aff'd, 542 So.2d 1300 (Ala.), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 874, 110 S.Ct. 208, 107 L.Ed.2d 161 (1989). See also Hewlett v. State, 520 So.2d 200, 204 (Ala.Cr.App.1987) ("Having been apprised of the crime he was charged with committing and the means by which he committed it, the appellant was not m......
  • U.S. v. Rouse, s. 95-1554
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 29 Mayo 1997
    ...may refuse requests for pretrial interviews. See Thornton v. State, 264 Ga. 563, 449 S.E.2d 98, 109-10 (1994); Hewlett v. State, 520 So.2d 200, 203-04, (Ala.Crim.App.1987); see also State ex rel. O'Leary v. Lowe, 307 Or. 395, 769 P.2d 188, 192-93 (1989) (en banc). In this case, defense coun......
  • Franklin v. State, CR-06-1870.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 19 Diciembre 2008
    ...a competent witness and shall be allowed to testify without prior qualification in any judicial proceeding." See also Hewlett v. State, 520 So.2d 200 (Ala.Crim.App.1987). Further, Rule 601, Ala.R.Evid., provides that "[e]very person is competent to be a witness except as otherwise provided ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT