McWilliams v. State, 6 Div. 190

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtMcMILLAN; BOWEN, J., dissents with opinion, TAYLOR; BOWEN
Citation640 So.2d 982
PartiesJames Edmund McWILLIAMS v. STATE.
Docket Number6 Div. 190
Decision Date23 August 1991

Page 982

640 So.2d 982
James Edmund McWILLIAMS
v.
STATE.
6 Div. 190.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
Aug. 23, 1991.
Rehearing Denied May 1, 1992.

Page 986

Al L. Vreeland and Albert S. Miles, Tuscaloosa and Oliver W. Loewy, Montgomery, for appellant.

James H. Evans, Atty. Gen., and Sandra J. Stewart and Jean A. Therkelsen, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellee.

McMILLAN, Judge.

The appellant was indicted in a four-count indictment on charges of capital murder: counts I and II of the indictment charging the appellant with committing murder during a robbery in the first degree, in violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Code of Alabama 1975; count III charging the commission of murder during rape in the first degree, in violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(3), Code of Alabama 1975; and count IV charging the appellant with committing murder during sodomy in the first degree, in violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(3), Code of Alabama 1975. Subsequently, count IV of the indictment was dismissed. Following the trial, the appellant was found guilty as charged in counts I through III of the indictment, and following a separate sentencing hearing the jury, by a vote of 10 to 2, recommended a verdict of death. Thereafter, the trial court conducted a separate sentencing hearing, following which the appellant was sentenced to death by electrocution.

This court adopts the trial court's specific findings concerning the circumstances of the crime and the appellant's participation therein, as set forth below:

"The defendant, James Edmund McWilliams, Jr., raped, robbed, and murdered Patricia Vallery Reynolds. The crime occurred on December 30, 1984 at Austin's Food Store, Hargrove Road, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

"Patricia Vallery Reynolds was a clerk at Austin's, a convenience store. The defendant went into the store, locked the front doors, robbed Mrs. Reynolds by taking money from her possession, took her to the back room and brutally raped her, then shot her with a .38 caliber pistol. There were 16 gunshot wounds (8 entrance, 8 exit). She was initially shot while standing, and also shot while lying on the floor. She was shot 6 times, with 2 of the bullets first penetrating her hand or arm before entering and exiting her body. The bullets penetrated both lungs, both hemidiaphragms,

Page 987

the liver, pancreas, stomach, spleen, upper forearms, and hand.

"Mrs. Reynolds died in surgery at 12:40 a.m. The cause of death was exsanguination.

"The defendant was identified by eyewitnesses who placed him at the scene.

"The defendant was apprehended in Findlay, Ohio, driving a stolen car. The murder weapon (also stolen) was in his possession. He was jailed in Ohio, charged with auto theft, possession of stolen property, carrying a concealed weapon, and no operator's license. In the Ohio jail, he bragged to other inmates that he had robbed, raped, and killed a woman in Alabama.

"The jury deliberated less than one hour before returning a verdict of guilty. The following day, the jury recommended the death penalty."

I

The appellant argues that the trial court denied him an individualized determination of the appropriate punishment by refusing to consider his organic brain damage as a mitigating circumstance. The record indicates that, during the penalty stage of his trial before the jury, the appellant presented evidence that he had suffered two head injuries and that he had visited medical professionals as a result of those head injuries. During his sentencing hearing before the trial judge, the appellant presented evidence indicating that he might suffer from some organic brain dysfunction, although, as that court noted, the report suggesting such dysfunction also indicated that the appellant was exaggerating his problems.

The record further reveals that the trial court did consider this mitigating circumstance, but found that it was not supported by the evidence. In his sentencing findings, the trial court first considered the statutory mitigating circumstances, stating in pertinent part:

"This Court finds that the preponderance of the evidence does not show that the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance.

"Evidence was presented as to this circumstance during Phase II of this trial, being the punishment phase; however, after consideration of this evidence, this Court finds that the preponderance of the evidence does not show that the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance."

Thereafter, in considering the nonstatutory mitigating circumstances presented by the appellant, the trial court stated:

"In addition to the above enumerated mitigating circumstances, the defendant was given the opportunity during the 2nd phase of the trial before the jury returned its advisory verdict to present any other evidence of mitigating circumstances and to make any statement of mitigating circumstances. The defendant testified that he received two blows to the head at various times and places, and this resulted in some organic brain damage.

"Following the verdict of the jury recommending the death penalty, the defendant requested that this Court order neurological and neuropsychological testing, and this request was granted.

"This Court interprets Section 13A-5-47 of the Code of Alabama 1975 as limiting ... what additional evidence may be presented in the 3rd phase, the exception being evidence in response to any part of the pre-sentence investigation report which is the subject of factual dispute.

"Nevertheless, the Court reviewed additional evidence presented by the defense as to the result of the neurological and neuropsychological testing of the defendant and other medical records of the defendant made a part of the record from Holman Prison and from Taylor-Hardin Secure Medical Facility, and after a careful review and consideration of these records and reports, the Court finds that the defendant was not and is not psychotic, either from organic brain dysfunction or any other reason. The Court does find that the defendant possibly has some degree of organic brain dysfunction resulting in some physical impairment, but that this does not rise to the level of a mitigating circumstance. The Court finds that the

Page 988

preponderance of the evidence from these tests and reports show the defendant to be feigning, faking, and manipulative.

"The Court further finds that even if this did rise to the level of a mitigating circumstance, the aggravating circumstances would far outweigh this as a mitigating circumstance."

" 'It is not required that evidence submitted by the accused as a non-statutory mitigating circumstance be weighed as a mitigating circumstance by the trial judge.' Mikenas v. State, 407 So.2d 892, 893 (Fla.1981).

" ' "Although consideration of all mitigating circumstances is required by the United States Constitution, Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586, 98 S.Ct. 2954, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 (1978), the decision of whether a particular mitigating circumstance and sentencing is proven and the weight to be given it rests with the judge and jury. Lucas v. State, 376 So.2d 1149 (Fla.1979)." Smith v. State, 407 So.2d 894, 901 (Fla.1981).' "

Harrell v. State, 470 So.2d 1303, 1308 (Ala.Cr.App.1984), affirmed, 470 So.2d 1309 (Ala.1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 935, 106 S.Ct. 269, 88 L.Ed.2d 276 (1985).

"It is not required that the evidence submitted by the accused as a non-statutory mitigating circumstance be weighed as a mitigating circumstance by the sentencer, in this case, the trial court; although consideration of all mitigating circumstances is required, the decision of whether a particular mitigating circumstance is proven and the weight to be given it rests with the sentencer. Cochran v. State, 500 So.2d 1161 (Ala.Cr.App.1984), affirmed in pertinent part, remanded on other part, 500 So.2d 1179 (Ala.1985), affirmed on return to remand, 500 So.2d 1188 (Ala.Cr.App.), affirmed, 500 So.2d 1064 (Ala.1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1033, 107 S.Ct. 1965, 95 L.Ed.2d 537 (1987)."

Haney v. State, 603 So.2d 368 (Ala.Cr.App.1991). See also Bankhead v. State, 585 So.2d 97 (Ala.Cr.App.1989), remanded on other grounds, 585 So.2d 112 (Ala.1991) ("[w]hile Lockett and its progeny require consideration of all evidence submitted as mitigating, whether the evidence is actually found to be mitigating is in the discretion of the sentencing authority").

The trial court clearly found that the evidence presented by the appellant did not rise to the level of a mitigating circumstance. We find no abuse of the trial court's discretion in this regard.

II

The appellant argues that his rights to due process were violated during the penalty phase of his trial, because he was denied the right to the assistance of a psychiatrist. The record indicates that prior to trial the appellant filed a motion requesting a competency examination to determine whether he was sane and whether he was subject to any mental conditions which would bring certain mitigating circumstances into evidence. The trial court granted the motion and ordered a lunacy commission to evaluate the appellant's sanity at the time of the crime, at the time of the evaluation, and as it might relate to any statutory mitigating circumstances. The appellant was evaluated at Taylor-Hardin Secure Medical Facility. Thereafter, during the penalty stage before the jury, the appellant and his mother testified that he had suffered two head injuries that had caused him to seek medical attention. They further testified that his behavior became more destructive and violent following the head injuries. The appellant was also allowed to read into evidence a medical report, which was made by a Dr. Davis prior to the offense, and which indicated that he suffered from an atypical paranoid disorder with schizoid features. The appellant also testified that he had consulted a neurosurgeon about his head injuries, but that the neurosurgeon had told him that the headaches...

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  • McWhorter v. Dunn, Case No. 4:13-CV-02150-RDP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • January 22, 2019
    ...for purposes of being taken to and from thePage 91 courtroom is left to the discretion of the trial court. McWilliams v. State, 640 So.2d 982 (Ala.Crim.App. 1991).We affirm the circuit court's dismissal of the claims. McWhorter has not presented any facts to support this claim; the claim is......
  • Brown v. State, CR-01-1900.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • April 28, 2006
    ...parole, considering his five previous bank robbery convictions, and the charges against him in this case." See also McWilliams v. State, 640 So.2d 982 (Ala.Cr.App.1991), aff'd in part, remanded on other grounds, 640 So.2d 1015 "Minor v. State, 780 So.2d 707, 784 (Ala. Crim.App.1999), rev'd ......
  • Arthur v. State, CR-91-718
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 8, 1996
    ...court has held that "[t]he trial court's reading of the entire list of statutory mitigating factors was proper. See McWilliams v. State, 640 So.2d 982 (Ala.Cr.App.1991). As a practical matter, it would be impossible to determine the existence of any statutory mitigating factors unless it ha......
  • McWilliams v. Comm'r, Alabama Department of Corrections, No. 13-13906
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • October 15, 2019
    ...McWilliams's conviction and death sentence, found no error in the trial judge's denial of his Ake request. McWilliams v. State , 640 So. 2d 982, 991 (Ala. Crim. App. 1991). The Alabama Supreme Court, on certiorari review, affirmed the Court of Criminal Appeals decision (without expressly ad......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
55 cases
  • McWhorter v. Dunn, Case No. 4:13-CV-02150-RDP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • January 22, 2019
    ...for purposes of being taken to and from thePage 91 courtroom is left to the discretion of the trial court. McWilliams v. State, 640 So.2d 982 (Ala.Crim.App. 1991).We affirm the circuit court's dismissal of the claims. McWhorter has not presented any facts to support this claim; the claim is......
  • Brown v. State, CR-01-1900.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • April 28, 2006
    ...parole, considering his five previous bank robbery convictions, and the charges against him in this case." See also McWilliams v. State, 640 So.2d 982 (Ala.Cr.App.1991), aff'd in part, remanded on other grounds, 640 So.2d 1015 "Minor v. State, 780 So.2d 707, 784 (Ala. Crim.App.1999), rev'd ......
  • Arthur v. State, CR-91-718
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 8, 1996
    ...court has held that "[t]he trial court's reading of the entire list of statutory mitigating factors was proper. See McWilliams v. State, 640 So.2d 982 (Ala.Cr.App.1991). As a practical matter, it would be impossible to determine the existence of any statutory mitigating factors unless it ha......
  • McWilliams v. Comm'r, Alabama Department of Corrections, No. 13-13906
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • October 15, 2019
    ...McWilliams's conviction and death sentence, found no error in the trial judge's denial of his Ake request. McWilliams v. State , 640 So. 2d 982, 991 (Ala. Crim. App. 1991). The Alabama Supreme Court, on certiorari review, affirmed the Court of Criminal Appeals decision (without expressly ad......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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