Jackson v. State

Decision Date30 September 1993
Docket NumberCR-91-820
Citation674 So.2d 1318
PartiesKenneth James JACKSON v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Connie Walter Parson, Birmingham, and Michael O'Connor and Kathryn V. Stanley, Montgomery, for appellant.

James H. Evans, Atty. Gen., and Sandra Stewart and Andy Poole, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellee.

McMILLAN, Judge.

The appellant, Kenneth James Jackson, was convicted of the offense of murder committed during the course of a robbery. § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Code of Alabama 1975. Following the initial sentencing hearing, the jury returned an advisory verdict recommending a sentence of death by electrocution, by a vote of 11 to 1. At the subsequent sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the appellant to death by electrocution.

The record indicates the following. The victim was an admitted homosexual who had worked at the emergency room of Children's Hospital in Birmingham for many years. On the day of the offense, the victim had been socializing with friends and drinking alcohol. Some time just prior to midnight they decided to go to a local night club, located near the victim's home in the Pratt City area of Birmingham. The appellant, who had met the victim on occasion through mutual friends, arrived at the club just after midnight. He was dropped off by a friend with whom he had worked that evening as a disc jockey at another local bar. While the appellant stated that he was not a homosexual himself, he admitted that he had lived with a number of homosexuals from time to time, several of whom were friends of the victim. Witnesses at the club testified that the victim and the appellant sat at the bar at the same time, two seats apart, without talking, other than perhaps a few words. The witnesses all testified that the appellant had a bandage around his left forearm. This bandage was later determined to have been covering a wound that resulted from a knife fight two nights earlier. There was a discrepancy in the evidence as to whether the appellant and the victim left at the same time or approximately 10 to 15 minutes apart; however, the appellant left the bar at approximately 3:15 a.m. There was testimony from a State's witness that she observed the appellant waiting at the passenger's side of the victim's car for the victim to unlock the door. A neighbor of the victim testified that she was awakened at 4:25 a.m. by the smell of smoke and that after she determined there was no electrical problem at her home, she again went to sleep. She said that she awoke again at approximately 4:50 to 5:00 to find smoke in her house. She said she looked outside and found that the victim's house was on fire, called the operator, and reported the fire. The fire department arrived 12 to 15 minutes later and found the house engulfed in flames. Subsequent investigation by the state fire marshal's office and the Birmingham Fire Department revealed that the fire was caused by arson, although no evidence of accelerants was found. An expert in fires testified that based on the existence of "V-shape" patterns on the walls and the fact that the flames had burned through the roof, he was of the opinion that the fire originated at a low point, probably close to a couch in the living room, and had been burning for approximately one to one and one-half hours. The firemen discovered a body in the living room, lying face down, nude, with its arms and legs spread apart. The body was burned beyond recognition. Although the identity of the owner of the house was ascertained, the body was identified some time after the fire through dental records.

A State's witness testified that he had been visiting a friend who lived in "the Brick Yard," a housing project located close to the victim's house, and that he left his friend's house between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. This witness acknowledged that he had smoked crack cocaine earlier in the evening and that he had been smoking marijuana while visiting his friend. He began walking to locate someone to give him a ride home. He testified that he observed a car speeding through the project, and making quick stops, apparently looking for someone. He testified that, after this car circled by him for the third time, it stopped, and a man, subsequently identified by the witness as the appellant, got out. He asked the witness if he had seen "a dark-skinned chick walk up the alley." The witness testified that the man was not wearing a shirt, and that there was blood smeared across his chest. He also described the man as having a bandage around one of his arms and said that the bandage had blood on it. He testified that the man appeared to be "hyped" and that he was actively looking for a particular girl. The appellant stated that he was "going to kill the bitch. She had run off with his money." A friend of the witness indicated that he had seen the girl go into a particular house, in which narcotics were commonly sold. As the appellant and the witness approached the house, the appellant told him, "I just shot a nigger." The witness asked if the appellant had killed him, to which the appellant responded affirmatively and told the witness, "Don't nobody know that but you." The witness responded, "There still don't nobody know it but me and you, and I ain't sayin' nothing' else about it." Just before they entered the house, the appellant told the witness he was going back to his car to get his gun and, when the appellant returned, he had put his shirt on and he purported to have a gun. A woman at the house told them that the girl whom the appellant sought had gone out the back of the house. When they found the girl, she had a rock of cocaine, which she had apparently bought for the appellant. The appellant agreed to give the witness a ride home and the appellant, the witness, and the girl all got into the appellant's car. The appellant sped out of the project and was observed by a police officer. The officer testified that he observed the appellant speeding from the project at approximately 4:40 a.m. The officer followed the appellant. The State's witness testified that the appellant indicated that he was going to attempt to outrun the police. The witness said he told the appellant that he recognized the officer and asked him to pull over, because the police vehicle had turned on its lights and siren. The appellant stopped the vehicle, but told the witness to let him know when the officer got out of the car, and said that he was going to "pull off." The witness then jumped out of the car and approached the police officer, followed closely by the girl. Approximately eight or nine police vehicles had joined in the pursuit and the officers had drawn guns on the appellant. The State's witness told the police officer, whom he knew and who had initiated the chase, that he did not know the appellant, but that the appellant had told him that he had just shot someone. The officer testified that, upon apprehending the appellant, he detected a strong odor of alcohol and noted that the appellant's speech was slurred. He testified that he believed the appellant was intoxicated. The appellant was patted down for weapons and subsequently failed a field sobriety test. He was then arrested for driving under the influence.

Subsequently, the car driven by the appellant when he was arrested was determined to have belonged to the victim. The victim's wallet was found beneath the seat on the passenger side of the vehicle. His checkbook and one of his bank slips was found on the appellant's person. The bank slip, which was in an envelope, however, was not found until the appellant had been transported for arrest pursuant to the robbery and murder. The appellant eventually gave two statements concerning the murder, in which he implicated a man named Robert, Jr. There was testimony at trial that the appellant had previously been arrested for an unrelated burglary and that he had told the police that a Robert, Jr., had committed the offense. Investigation of that earlier burglary revealed that no person by that name could be located, nor could any further information about him be obtained.

The coroner testified at trial that he was able to ascertain that the victim had been beaten about the face and chest, and that there were bruises in the pelvic area, which might have been caused by kicking. He testified that, because there was very little muscle tissue remaining, there were large areas of the body that he was unable to examine to determine whether there had been a more extensive beating. He was able to conclude, however, that the victim died from manual strangulation, due to some finger-like marks found around the area of the victim's esophagus, as well as the condition of the hyoid bone. Further, the patterns of the bloodstains found on the appellant's jeans, tennis shoes, and shirt were determined to have been caused by both smearing and spatter. The testimony indicated that a spatter pattern would be consistent with injury from impact with a bloody wound or an open bloody area, as well as from walking through, or slapping, large amounts of blood. Where the bloodstains were large enough to be analyzed, they were determined to be consistent with that of the victim. Semen was also found on the appellant's boxer shorts.

At trial, the appellant changed his account of the offense, testifying that Robert, Jr., picked him up at the club in the victim's car, and that they went to the Ice House to buy beer. He said that they then drove to the victim's house and carried the beer inside and that the victim was there with a man named Tony Shuford. The appellant testified that Robert, Jr., soon left, but that he remained. He testified that, after some casual conversation, the victim began to approach him about having sex. The appellant became agitated because the victim had asked him in front of Tony Shuford. According to the appellant, the appellant and the victim then went to...

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