Jackson v. State, 1 Div. 959

Citation502 So.2d 858
Decision Date09 December 1986
Docket Number1 Div. 959
PartiesLarry Edward JACKSON v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Jeffery C. Duffy of Duffy & Wallace, Montgomery, for appellant.

Charles A. Graddick, Atty. Gen., and Mary Ellen Fike Forehand, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

McMILLAN, Judge.

Larry Edward Jackson was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole, pursuant to the Alabama Habitual Felony Offender Act.

Elizabeth Taylor, daughter-in-law of the victim, James Taylor, testified she saw her father-in-law at his home two days before he was murdered. Shirley Speights, James Taylor's daughter, indicated that on the day in question, she went to her father's home. She noticed that the glass in the top part of the door was broken out. The next afternoon, she returned to her father's home and, after calling him and finding no one around the house, she went to the home of one of his neighbors. The neighbors indicated that they had not seen him Jackson Police Chief Bill Taylor testified that on the same day he was called to James Taylor's home on a missing person report. He conducted an investigation around the victim's home and found evidence of a struggle in the front part of the house. Thereafter, the victim's body was found during the course of a search of a wooded area. Chief Taylor testified that the victim's forehead was severely lacerated and that two shirts were found over the body. The morning after the body was discovered, while further investigation of the area continued, Chief Taylor and Sheriff Sheffield saw the appellant running in the woods. Chief Taylor yelled for appellant to halt and both of them unsuccessfully pursued him. A blanket and a bedspread found in the area were taken to appellant's home, where his mother identified them as belonging to her and her husband. Various hair samples, bloodstains, and a handkerchief were submitted to the forensic lab for analysis. According to Chief Taylor, a stick of stove wood that appeared to have blood stains and hair on it was found a short distance from the victim's home.

in about three days. According to Ms. Speights, James Taylor usually carried a large amount of cash in his pants pockets and often lent money to the black people in the area. Herman Howard, the deceased's grandson, testified that on the same day that Shirley Speights had returned to her father's home, he went to his grandfather's house. He also saw broken glass in his grandfather's door over the door knob. He stated that he twisted the door open, went inside and saw his grandfather's walking cane on the table.

During a search the next day, a shovel was found in a creekbed approximately 51 feet north of where the victim's body was found buried. Several days later a pair of pants was found in the vicinity. Walter Taylor, the victim's son, identified the two shirts found at the scene, as well as the pair of pants and shovel, as belonging to his father. Walter Taylor testified that, before the victim's body was found, the appellant's father described to him the condition of the body and stated that his son had committed the offense. Walter Taylor also testified that on one occasion appellant had tried to rob James Taylor.

James Small, a criminalist with the Department of Forensic Sciences, testified that hair samples taken from the right side of the front door, the right front of the house, the shovel, and a piece of wood, all matched the hair of the deceased, James Taylor. Dr. LeRoy Riddick, a pathologist with the Department of Forensic Sciences, testified that he performed an autopsy on the body and that, in his opinion, James Taylor died from a combination of the injuries to his head and strangulation. These injuries were consistent with being hit in the head with the piece of stove wood. Elaine Scott, a forensic serologist with the Department of Forensic Sciences, testified that she typed the deceased's blood as Blood Group O. According to Ms. Scott, Blood Group O was found on the paint samples taken from the door and on the piece of stove wood. Blood stains were also found on the pants and the handkerchief.

Billy Ray Fields testified that he was arrested on a charge pending against him from the State of Arizona and that he was placed in the Jackson City Jail. He testified that he spent part of his incarceration in a cell next to the appellant. The jury was excused and Fields testified that he had two conversations with the appellant. Fields testified that no one had asked him to talk to the appellant about the crime and that he was not aware of James Taylor's death. According to Chief Taylor, no one, to his knowledge, from the Sheriff's Department or the District Attorney's Office, contacted Arizona officials about the pending charges against Fields and asked them to dismiss the charges. No one offered Fields any reward or money, or told him it would be better or worse for him if he discussed the case. Appellant told Fields that he had been to a party where there was drinking and gambling and that he had gone to this man's house to borrow some money; however, the man had refused.

Appellant returned to the party, drank some more, and again attempted to borrow some money from the man. Appellant said the old man refused, whereupon he lost his temper, they fought, and appellant hit him in the head with a piece of iron pipe. The next night Fields and appellant again talked and appellant told him that he had hit the man in the head with a stick of stove wood. No one had asked Fields to talk to appellant and no one had promised appellant anything or forced him to talk to Fields. Fields then testified before the jury and again related these two conversations he had had with the appellant. Arthur DuBose, who stated he had known appellant for a long time and who identified him in the courtroom, testified that on the Saturday night before James Taylor's body was found, he played cards with the appellant at his house. According to DuBose, appellant got there around 4:00 p.m., stayed a couple of hours, left, and returned around 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. Appellant continued playing cards and drinking, then left again around 10:00 p.m. He returned around 11:00 or 12:00. He again played cards and drank until the game broke up around 2:30 a.m. Mr. DuBose stated that he lived about a block and a half from the deceased and that the deceased's home was between the appellant's house and DuBose's home.


Appellant argues that the evidence presented by the State was insufficient to sustain his conviction. This court is required to consider the evidence in a light which is most favorable to the State. Cumbo v. State, 368 So.2d 871 (Ala.Cr.App.1978), cert. denied, 368 So.2d 877 (Ala.1979); Barnes v. State, 429 So.2d 1114 (Ala.Cr.App.1982).

In Saffold v. State, 494 So.2d 164, 167 (Ala.Cr.App.1986), this court stated:

"In deciding whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support the verdict of the jury and the judgment of the trial court, the evidence must be reviewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution. Johnson v. State, 378 So.2d 1164 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. quashed, 378 So.2d 1173 (Ala.1979); Cumbo v. State, 368 So.2d 871 (Ala.Cr.App.1978), cert. denied, 368 So.2d 877 (Ala.1979); Bass v. State, 55 Ala.App. 88, 313 So.2d 208 (1975). This court must accept as true the evidence introduced by the State and accord the State all legitimate inferences therefrom. Johnson v. State. Conflicting evidence presents a jury question not subject to review on appeal, provided the State's evidence establishes a prima facie case. Gunn v. State, 387 So.2d 280 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 387 So.2d 283 (Ala.1980); McBryar v. State, 368 So.2d 575 (Ala.1979); 7 Ala. Digest, Criminal Law, Key No. 1159.3.

"The action of the trial court in denying a motion for judgment of acquittal and in denying a motion for a new trial on the ground of insufficient evidence must be reviewed by determining whether or not there exists legal evidence before the jury at the time the motions are made, from which the jury by fair inference could find the defendant guilty. Johnson v. State; Thomas v. State, 363 So.2d 1020 (Ala.Cr.App.1978). In applying this standard, the appellate court will determine only if legal evidence was presented from which the jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Willis v. State, 447 So.2d 199 (Ala.Cr.App.1983); Thomas v. State."

Furthermore, in Giles v. State, 440 So.2d 1237, 1239 (Ala.Cr.App.1983), this court held:

"Where there is evidence from which the jury may by fair inference find the defendant guilty, the trial court should submit the case to the jury to determine the weight it will give the evidence, and this Court should not disturb the verdict."

This Court has also written:

"This Court is required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, Bass v. State, 55 Ala.App. 88, 313 So.2d 208 (1975), and not substitute its Stewart v. State, 405 So.2d 402, 403-04 (Ala.Cr.App.1981).

judgment for that of the jury. Cumbo v. State, 368 So.2d 871 (Ala.Cr.App.1978), cert. denied, 368 So.2d 877 (Ala.1979). Where the evidence presented raises questions of fact for the jury, and such evidence, if believed, is sufficient to sustain conviction, the denial of a motion to exclude the State's evidence, the refusal to give the affirmative charge and the overruling of a motion for new trial, does not constitute error. Young v. State, 283 Ala. 676, 220 So.2d 843 (1969)."

The testimony in the present case raises inferences of fact for the jury that if accepted were sufficient to sustain appellant's conviction. In light of the appellate standard for review of a claim of insufficient evidence, the appellant's argument must fail.

Furthermore, while the evidence presented was circumstantial and each factor standing alone is insufficient, when taken as a whole, the evidence sufficiently raises questions of fact...

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