McLaren v. State

Decision Date04 October 1977
Docket Number8 Div. 888
PartiesCraig R. McLAREN v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Macon L. Weaver, Huntsville, for appellant.

William J. Baxley, Atty. Gen., Michael L. Weathers, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

DeCARLO, Judge.

Murder; life.

Craig R. McLaren was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury in November, 1975 and was charged with unlawfully killing Dorothy G. Traylor.

On December 10, 1975, the appellant filed four motions at trial, one of which was a motion for a change of venue. An evidentiary hearing was held and the motions were denied.

The case was called for trial on May 11, 1976, and at that time the appellant filed a motion to quash the indictment. Counsel for the appellant maintained that there had not been sufficient evidence presented to the grand jury on which an indictment could be based. After a hearing outside the presence of the jury, the court determined that, although the indictment rested on hearsay evidence, it was sufficient under the law and the motion was denied.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Dorothy Giles Traylor was married to Edward E. Traylor and they lived at 615 Franklin Street in Huntsville, Alabama. On September 6, 1974, Mr. Traylor, after eating breakfast with his wife, left for work. Traylor testified that he did not talk with his wife during the day but that she had called his store around 12:30 P.M. Traylor stated that he arrived home between 4:00 and 5:00 P.M., discovered blood on the door of a porch and in the kitchen, and called the police. He said that the next time he saw his wife was at the funeral home where her body had been taken.

On September 6, 1974, about 5:30 P.M., Richard Yearick, a Huntsville Policeman, was called to a wooded area off Miss Ann Road on Monte Santo Mountain. On his arrival he saw the body of a white female lying face down. The body was covered with blood and appeared to have been stabbed. Leaving the scene where the body was found, Yearick went to an area off Knotty Wall Road in Huntsville, Alabama, and found a 1970 Cadillac belonging to Mrs. Traylor. According to Yearick, approximately three weeks later, in response to a call, he went to the residence of Tommy Barry. There a wallet was turned over to him containing several credit cards, blank checks, a social security card with Mrs. Traylor's name on it, and various other notes and photographs.

Robert B. Johnson, a State toxicologist, examined the remains of Mrs. Dorothy Traylor on September 7, 1974, at the Huntsville morgue. He found some twenty-eight lacerations, eleven or twelve being puncture lacerations which are ordinarily described as stab wounds. Johnson stated that "the subject died as a result of shock and hemorrhage from multiple puncture lacerations, mainly to the back of the body." According to Johnson, a laceration on the head was caused by, "some sort of blunt instrument, the others were made by a sharp instrument."

Eugene Bonner, Jr., an ex-marine and a veteran of the Vietnam war, was married and had one daughter. Prior to the incident, he was separated from his wife and working at NASA doing his apprenticeship for a mechanical engineer.

Bonner admitted that he had been previously convicted for child abuse and sentenced to five years, and while on probation was charged with armed robbery. A plea of insanity had been entered in the robbery case, and he was awaiting trial on that charge when the present trial was begun.

Bonner recalled that he was walking down the street when he first met McLaren, who, according to Bonner, was driving a little red Karmen Ghia. McLaren asked him if he wanted to smoke a joint of "marijuana." Afterwards they "started talking and playing chess together." Bonner recalled going to the appellant's house located "right up from the Automatic Electric" and, on one occasion, having seen his wife there.

According to Bonner, on September 6, 1974, he saw appellant about ten o'clock that morning at his house. He said that they talked and played chess but then left and went to McLaren's house. Bonner testified that while they were there the appellant asked "if I wanted to make forty or fifty thousand dollars. I asked what did we have to do, he said we were going to kidnap this lady and take her to the bank for some money." When Bonner responded that he did, they went outside to the garage and McLaren "got a 38 and a military K-bar, which was a knife like a bayonet." Bonner recalled that McLaren placed the knife and the gun inside his pants and that they then left in the red Karmen Ghia. They went to a store where the appellant purchased some rubber gloves.

From there they drove to a location near some doctors' offices, three or four hundred yards from the Traylor house. After parking the car they proceeded to walk to the victim's house and as they were going up to the house, they passed an elderly black lady. They knocked on the door and McLaren asked about cutting the grass. Mrs. Traylor said they "would have to take it up with her husband." At that point, they walked through an alley to the back of the house. Again, McLaren knocked on the door and when Mrs. Traylor opened the door he asked her about cutting the grass. She again repeated that "they would have to talk to her husband" and closed the door. McLaren knocked the third time and when Mrs. Traylor opened the door again, he knocked her into the house and said, "be quiet bitch." She started screaming and McLaren hit her on the head with the gun. The blow caused bleeding which could not be stopped. McLaren said, "we're not going to be able to take her to the bank." Mrs. Traylor then asked "what are you going to do?" and he replied, "we're going to let you go."

They tried to stop the bleeding. According to Bonner, they attempted to wipe the blood from the floor because of tracks made in the blood. Next they carried Mrs. Traylor to the back seat of her Cadillac which was parked at the back of her house. McLaren sat in the back seat, with the victim lying on the floorboard, while Bonner drove to the mountain and backed the car inside a clearing.

Mrs. Traylor got out on the left side of the car with McLaren behind her. According to Bonner she was facing him at the time and appellant stabbed her five or six times in the back. When she fell, McLaren "cut her throat . . . Vietnam style . . . the style that is used in Vietnam, quick style, quick death." Bonner said they had gloves on at the time and afterwards appellant wiped the knife on his pants and they left Mrs. Traylor's body on the mountain.

Bonner recalled that they drove down across the mountain onto "old Big Cove Road" and were following a bus. "The car was kind of bloody" and when they came to a location near "Owens Cross Road" they threw the victim's purse from the car. Subsequently, they left the car on the side of the road and walked across the mountain where they left the gun and knife near a telephone pole. Afterwards they were given a ride in a van to the corner of the road where the "Auto Electric" was located. They went to a store and got something to drink and from there went to the appellant's house and drank some scotch. Subsequently, they left McLaren's house in his wife's car and returned to the area where the knife and gun were located. From there they went to where the appellant's car was parked near the Traylor home, and drove the two cars back to McLaren's house. According to Bonner, he did not hear from appellant again for about a week.

Bonner said that he called the appellant and was told not to worry and not to say anything. According to the witness, he went to McLaren's house and appellant told him not to come there anymore because he had been picked up by the police and let go because "they didn't know it was him." That was the last communication that he had with the appellant.

During cross-examination, Bonner admitted that after he left Vietnam he heard voices and had been to the veteran's hospital on two occasions. He recalled that Drs. Able and Miller told him that "every thing was going to be alright." He said that the doctors had talked to him and given him some medication which he was still taking. Bonner also admitted that on hearing the voices that he had on occasion talked back. He explained that he could not understand where the voices were coming from and wanted to ask them (the voices) where they were. Further, Bonner said the voices were coming from "out of my mind."

Bonner admitted that he was told that if he signed a statement that he would not be prosecuted but denied he was told he would get the five thousand dollars' reward.

Bonner also stated that the statement appearing in the newspaper was substantially the same as the one he had given to the police. He went on to testify that his wife had called and told Mr. Traylor about his participation in the alleged murder. Further, he admitted that some fourteen months had passed and he had done nothing and that it was his wife who had told the authorities of his participation.

Upon further questioning, Bonner acknowledged using heroin and LSD while in Vietnam and having "flashbacks." Also he admitted that Dr. Miller's report indicated that he should go to Bryce's Hospital and have a full scale in-hospital evaluation, but that he went to the VA hospital instead.

Thomas R. Hall was employed at the Tidwell Grocery at the time of the alleged murder in 1974. He stated that the grocery store was located about two blocks from the Traylor home and that on September 6th he recalled seeing a black man and a white man in the store. According to Hall, the white man had dark blonde hair that came down to his shoulders and that he was positive that it was the defendant who was with the black man. Further, he said that it was the appellant who purchased rubber gloves on that date.

Don Adams, on September 6, 1974, was at a doctor's office on Franklin Street. He...

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3 cases
  • Duke v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 31 Mayo 2002
    ...trial was impossible. Patton v. State, 246 Ala. 639, 21 So.2d 844 [1945]."' "Thompson, 581 So.2d at 1233, quoting McLaren v. State, 353 So.2d 24, 31 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 353 So.2d 35 "A review of the media coverage contained in the record on appeal demonstrates that the majority of ......
  • Head v. State
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    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 7 Octubre 1980
    ...desired, including a gun and a rope. The matter of the gun and rope was disposed of subsequently. The appellant, under McLaren v. State, Ala.Cr.App., 353 So.2d 24, would not have been entitled to the "No absolute right to pre-trial discovery of a statement made by an accomplice to the polic......
  • Ex parte Rogers.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 22 Diciembre 1977

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