Jackson v. Com., Record No. 030749 | 030750.

Docket NºRecord No. 030749 | 030750.
Citation266 Va. 423, 587 S.E.2d 532
Case DateOctober 31, 2003
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

587 S.E.2d 532
266 Va. 423

Kent Jermaine JACKSON
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia

Record Nos. 00.

Supreme Court of Virginia.

October 31, 2003.


587 S.E.2d 537
James S. Ellenson; Charles E. Haden, for appellant

Robert Q. Harris, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Jerry W. Kilgore, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: All the Justices.

OPINION BY Justice ELIZABETH B. LACY.

In this appeal, we review the capital murder conviction and death penalty imposed on Kent Jermaine Jackson, along with his convictions of robbery, felony stabbing, and statutory burglary.

FACTS

In accord with established principles of appellate review, we recite the facts in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the party prevailing below. Commonwealth v. Bower, 264 Va. 41, 43, 563 S.E.2d 736, 737 (2002).

On April 18, 2000, the body of Beulah Mae Kaiser, 79 years of age, was found in her apartment. According to the medical examiner, Mrs. Kaiser died from a combination of a stab wound to her jugular vein, a fractured skull, and asphyxia caused by blockage of her airway by her tongue. Any one of these injuries could have been fatal. In addition to these injuries, Mrs. Kaiser suffered two black eyes, a broken nose, and multiple abrasions, lacerations, and bruises. She had five stab wounds to her head and neck, including the wound to her jugular vein. The medical examiner also testified that Mrs. Kaiser had been anally sodomized with her walking cane and that the cane then had been driven into her mouth with such violence that it knocked out most of her teeth, tore her tongue and forced it into her airway, fractured her jaw, and penetrated the left side of her face.

When Mrs. Kaiser's body was found, her apartment was in disarray. Personal items were strewn throughout the apartment, blood spatters were on the surfaces of the apartment, and the contents of Mrs. Kaiser's purse had been dumped on the floor. The

587 S.E.2d 538
police were unable, however, to find a weapon or any fingerprints of value

The crime went unsolved for over 16 months until DNA testing of saliva on a cigarette butt found in the apartment implicated an individual named Cary Gaskins. An interview with Gaskins led the police to Joseph M. Dorsett and Jackson, who had been roommates in an apartment across the hall from Mrs. Kaiser's apartment at the time of her death. Following an interview with Dorsett, Newport News police arrested Dorsett, charging him with Mrs. Kaiser's murder, and obtained a warrant for Jackson's arrest.

Police arrested Jackson at a girlfriend's home in King George County around 4:00 a.m. on August 29, 2001. During an interview with Newport News police detectives at the King George County jail that afternoon, Jackson confessed to the murder of Mrs. Kaiser.

PROCEEDINGS

On January 14, 2002, Jackson was indicted by a Newport News grand jury for the capital murder of Beulah Mae Kaiser in the commission of a robbery or attempted robbery, robbery, felony stabbing, statutory burglary, and object sexual penetration, in violation of Code §§ 18.2-31, 18.2-58, 18.2-53, 18.2-90, and 18.2-67.2, respectively.

Prior to trial, Jackson filed motions seeking a change of venue, suppression of his confession, a bill of particulars, and additional peremptory strikes. The trial court denied these motions and rejected Jackson's arguments that Virginia's capital murder statutes are unconstitutional. Following a six-day trial, a jury convicted Jackson of all charges except object sexual penetration. In a subsequent sentencing proceeding, the jury found the aggravating factor of vileness and fixed a sentence of death for the capital murder conviction and fixed sentences totaling life imprisonment plus 25 years and a $100,000 fine for the remaining convictions. During a post-verdict hearing, the trial court considered the pre-sentence report, further evidence presented by Jackson, and the arguments of counsel. In its final judgment, the trial court imposed the sentences fixed by the jury.

We have consolidated the automatic review of Jackson's death sentence with his appeal of the capital murder conviction in Record No. 030749 and have given them priority on the docket. Code §§ 17.1-313(A), (F), and (G). We have also certified Jackson's appeal of his non-capital convictions from the Court of Appeals of Virginia, Record No. 030750, and have consolidated the two records for consideration.

ISSUES PREVIOUSLY DECIDED

Jackson raises fifteen assignments of error, four of which contain arguments that this Court has rejected in previous cases. Since Jackson presents no new arguments on these questions, we adhere to our previous holdings and affirm the rulings of the trial court:

(1) denying the defendant's motion for a bill of particulars seeking a narrowing construction of the vileness aggravator and identification of the evidence on which the Commonwealth intended to rely when seeking the death penalty. See Green v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 81, 107, 580 S.E.2d 834, 849 (2003); Goins v. Commonwealth, 251 Va. 442, 454, 470 S.E.2d 114, 123 (1996); Strickler v. Commonwealth, 241 Va. 482, 490, 404 S.E.2d 227, 233 (1991).
(2) refusing to declare Virginia's capital murder statutes unconstitutional because (a) they do not adequately instruct the jury on the weight it should assign to aggravating and mitigating factors, Satcher v. Commonwealth, 244 Va. 220, 228, 421 S.E.2d 821, 826 (1992), (b) do not require aggravating factors to outweigh mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, Mickens v. Commonwealth, 247 Va. 395, 403, 442 S.E.2d 678, 684 (1994), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 513 U.S. 922, 115 S.Ct. 307, 130 L.Ed.2d 271 (1994); (c) are unconstitutionally vague in defining "vileness" and "future dangerousness," Id.; (d) allow evidence of unadjudicated criminal conduct in the sentencing phase, Satcher, 244 Va. at 228, 421 S.E.2d at 826; (e) constitute cruel and unusual punishment, Spencer v. Commonwealth, 238 Va. 275,
587 S.E.2d 539
280-81, 384 S.E.2d 775, 777-78 (1989), and are contrary to "evolving standards of decency" under Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 100, 78 S.Ct. 590, 2 L.Ed.2d 630 (1958), Satcher, 244 Va. at 228, 421 S.E.2d at 826; (f) do not require the court to set aside the death penalty on showing of good cause, Breard v. Commonwealth, 248 Va. 68, 76, 445 S.E.2d 670, 675-76 (1994); (g) allow the court to consider hearsay evidence in its post-sentencing report, O'Dell v. Commonwealth, 234 Va. 672, 701-02, 364 S.E.2d 491, 507-08 (1988); and (h) fail to provide meaningful appellate review, Satcher, 244 Va. at 228, 421 S.E.2d at 826. See generally Breard, 248 Va. at 75-76, 445 S.E.2d at 675.
(3) denying the defendant's motion for additional peremptory challenges. See Green, 266 Va. at 107, 580 S.E.2d at 849; Spencer, 240 Va. at 84, 393 S.E.2d at 613; Buchanan v. Commonwealth, 238 Va. 389, 405, 384 S.E.2d 757, 767 (1989); O'Dell, 234 Va. at 690, 364 S.E.2d at 501.
(4) refusing the defendant's request to use a juror questionnaire. See Green, 266 Va. at 95-96, 580 S.E.2d at 842-43; Strickler, 241 Va. at 492-93, 404 S.E.2d at 234.

ISSUES NOT PRESERVED

A. Change of Venue

Jackson, in his second assignment of error, charges that the trial court erroneously denied his motion for change of venue. The Commonwealth argues that Jackson has waived this assignment of error because he neither renewed the motion at the time the jury was selected nor objected to the seating of the panel.

In Green, we stated that when a change of venue motion is taken under advisement or continued until the jury is empaneled, it is incumbent on the party seeking a change of venue to renew the motion or otherwise bring it to the court's attention. Green, 266 Va. at 94-95, 580 S.E.2d at 842. Failure to do so implies acquiescence in the jury panel and is tantamount to waiver of the motion for change of venue. Id.

In this case, the trial court denied Jackson's motion for a change of venue in a pre-trial hearing but stated that the motion was "a continuing motion as we go through this process." Jackson did not seek a ruling on this "continuing motion," did not bring the matter to the trial court's attention, and made no objection based on venue before the trial court empaneled the jury. Accordingly, Jackson has waived this assignment of error, and we will not address his claims that the trial court erred by refusing to grant his motion for a change of venue. Id.; Rule 5:25.

B. Admission of Photographs

Jackson's eighth assignment of error challenges the trial court's refusal to limit the presentation of crime scene and autopsy photographs of the decedent. Jackson argues here that the gruesome content of the photographs served merely to shock and inflame the jury, and, because Jackson had stipulated to an autopsy report and diagrams indicating the manner of Mrs. Kaiser's death, the fourteen photographs introduced by the Commonwealth were cumulative and had no probative value. The Commonwealth argues that Jackson has waived this claim because he did not object to the admission of the photographs at trial.

In a pre-trial motion, Jackson sought to limit the number of photographs depicting the condition of the decedent that could be introduced at trial, arguing that the photographs were cumulative. The trial court agreed that it would not admit cumulative evidence but denied Jackson's motion as premature because the Commonwealth had not yet determined which photographs it would introduce at trial. When the Commonwealth introduced all fourteen photographs as evidence, Jackson did not object. Jackson's failure to renew his objection at that time precludes him from raising this issue on appeal. Rule 5:25.

C. Trial Court's Proportionality Review

Jackson asserts that the trial court erred in not examining whether the jury's verdict imposing the penalty of death was based on passion or prejudice and whether

587 S.E.2d 540
the punishment was disproportionate in this case...

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66 practice notes
  • Gray v. Com., Record No. 062659.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • June 8, 2007
    ...from those of capital murder. Teleguz v. Commonwealth, 273 Va. 458, 643 S.E.2d 708 (2007) (subsection (2)); Jackson v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 423, 587 S.E.2d 532 (2003) (subsection (4)); Patterson v. Commonwealth, 262 Va. 301, 551 S.E.2d 332 (2001) (subsection (5)); Bell v. Commonwealth, 264......
  • Castillo v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0140-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • June 4, 2019
    ...McCaffrey’s employment history.28 "[L]imitation of cross-examination is within the trial court’s discretion." Jackson v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 423, 438, 587 S.E.2d 532 (2003). When a trial court limits a defendant’s cross-examination, the accused must proffer the excluded testimony for the ......
  • Muhammad v. Com., Record No. 041050.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • April 22, 2005
    ...139 L.Ed.2d 702 (1998); Jackson, 267 Va. at 206, 590 S.E.2d at 536; Johnson, 267 Va. at 69, 591 S.E.2d at 56; Jackson v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 423, 429, 587 S.E.2d 532, 538 (2003); Lovitt, 260 Va. at 508, 537 S.E.2d at (3) The Commonwealth is permitted to prove future dangerousness by evide......
  • State v. Oliver, No. 88,987.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...opinion about whether defendant's confession reliable, would only better enable jury to evaluate reliability); Jackson v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 423, 438-39, 587 S.E.2d 532 (2003) (expert's testimony on Page 508 as phenomenon making subject more prone to suggestion found admissible; however,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
66 cases
  • Gray v. Com., Record No. 062659.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • June 8, 2007
    ...from those of capital murder. Teleguz v. Commonwealth, 273 Va. 458, 643 S.E.2d 708 (2007) (subsection (2)); Jackson v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 423, 587 S.E.2d 532 (2003) (subsection (4)); Patterson v. Commonwealth, 262 Va. 301, 551 S.E.2d 332 (2001) (subsection (5)); Bell v. Commonwealth, 264......
  • Castillo v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0140-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • June 4, 2019
    ...McCaffrey’s employment history.28 "[L]imitation of cross-examination is within the trial court’s discretion." Jackson v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 423, 438, 587 S.E.2d 532 (2003). When a trial court limits a defendant’s cross-examination, the accused must proffer the excluded testimony for the ......
  • State v. Oliver, No. 88,987.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...opinion about whether defendant's confession reliable, would only better enable jury to evaluate reliability); Jackson v. Commonwealth, 266 Va. 423, 438-39, 587 S.E.2d 532 (2003) (expert's testimony on Page 508 as phenomenon making subject more prone to suggestion found admissible; however,......
  • Volkswagen of America, Inc. v. Smit, Record No. 082305.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • February 25, 2010
    ...and is unconstitutionally vague in violation of the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Virginia Constitutions. Id. at 454, 587 S.E.2d at 532 (citing the established principle of constitutional law that a court will not rule upon the constitutionality of a statute unless such a det......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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