Peoples v. State, 7 Div. 277

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation510 So.2d 554
Docket Number7 Div. 277
PartiesJohn W. PEOPLES, Jr. v. STATE.
Decision Date27 May 1986

Page 554

510 So.2d 554
John W. PEOPLES, Jr.
7 Div. 277.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
May 27, 1986.
Rehearing Denied July 15, 1986.

Page 555

William A. Short, Jr., Bessemer, for appellant.

Charles A. Graddick, Atty. Gen., and Rivard Melson and William W. Whatley, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellee.

TAYLOR, Judge.

The defendant, John W. Peoples, Jr., was indicted by the Talladega County Grand Jury on August 3, 1983, in a five-count capital murder indictment. Count one charged murder of two or more persons, namely, Paul G. Franklin, Sr., and Judy C. Franklin, by one act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(10), Code of Alabama 1975. Count two charged murder of Paul G. Franklin, Sr., during the kidnapping in the first degree of said person, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975. Count three charged murder of Paul G. Franklin, Jr., during the kidnapping in the first degree of said person, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975. Count four charged murder during a burglary in the first degree, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(4), Code of Alabama 1975. Count five charged murder during a robbery in the first degree, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Code of Alabama 1975.

Page 556

In July 1983, 34-year-old Paul Franklin, Sr., his wife Judy, and their 10-year-old son Paul, Jr., resided near Pell City in St. Clair County. They lived in a house on a peninsula that extends into Lake Logan Martin.

Mr. Franklin owned several personal vehicles between 1980 and 1983, having as many as five at one time, including a red 1968 Chevrolet Corvette. In July 1983, Mr. Franklin had in his employ a tutor for his son, who had been employed for the summer months, and a housekeeper, who came regularly and who had been doing so for three years. Paul Franklin's wife, Judy, scheduled an appointment for 9:00 a.m., July 7, for Paul, Jr., for a session with his tutor. However, the whole family, along with the red Corvette, disappeared from their lake home sometime on the night of Wednesday, July 6, 1983.

Mr. Franklin's mother, with whom he had an extremely close relationship, lives in Birmingham, and the two of them would talk by telephone "every" day. They had such a conversation on July 6, at about 6:30 p.m., and again for five minutes at about 8:30 p.m.

The next morning, July 7, 1983, the housekeeper arrived as arranged and found the house was not locked. When the housekeeper entered the house, she found no one home. She found the lights and the color televisions turned on. The family dog was "laying" in the washroom. She began her housekeeping chores, during which the telephone rang; the call was from Mr. Franklin's mother. This was between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. After talking with the mother, the housekeeper returned to her duties. While getting the mop and pail, she discovered that Mr. Franklin's Buick Regal was downstairs in the garage. This was unusual, because inside the garage was where the red Corvette was kept "fastened up all the time"; the Buick was normally parked outside. The housekeeper noted a puddle of oil where the Corvette was supposed to be. This observation was "a little after nine o'clock."

After mopping, the housekeeper proceeded with her cleaning. Under the bed in the marital bedroom, she found Mr. Franklin's pants folded in his usual but peculiar manner; however, they still contained his keys, billfold, and money clip. Then she noticed the bed in the guest bedroom was unmade, which was unusual. She began vacuuming when "a voice" told her, "Rosa, get the hell out of here and now," whereupon she "dropped everything right then and there" and left.

Mr. Franklin's mother arrived at the residence about 2:00 o'clock that afternoon, and found no one home and the doors not locked. Mr. Franklin was supposed to have made arrangements for his mother's car to be serviced at a local garage, but when she telephoned the garage from the residence, she found that her son had not made the appointment. Nevertheless, the servicemen did come get her car and service it. Meanwhile, the mother waited at the residence, hoping her son and family would return. Then she began calling family members--her other son in Georgia and Judy Franklin's mother in Birmingham. She also called the sheriff's office.

Judy Franklin's mother arrived at the residence about 7:00 p.m., and a sheriff's deputy arrived a short time later. The mother noticed her daughter's purse on the kitchen bar. She also saw clothes hanging on a dresser; they were the clothes that her daughter had been wearing the previous day. The deputy made a "short investigation," staying there about an hour and a half getting information and determining if anything was missing. Based on this investigation, the deputy put out a police broadcast that the family was missing, and later that night when he obtained a tag number for the missing Corvette, he had a report of the missing car entered in the National Crime Information Center (N.C.I.C.). Paul Franklin's mother and Judy Franklin's mother were instructed to remain in the house until Sunday afternoon, July 10, 1983. When they left, they gave the authorities a house key.

The authorities blocked the driveway to the house on the night of July 8. That night, Officers Marvin Roye and Ed Traylor of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and Investigator Owen Harmon, of

Page 557

the St. Clair Sheriff's Department, continued the investigation at the residence. Officer Roye "spent a great deal of time [that night] with the family going over the family history and information--where would they go and where would they have gone and what their activities were and things of this nature." The officers also looked around and through the house, "looking for things like broken out windows, forced entry, and any kind of destructive type thing." They also checked to see if any family luggage was gone. In the basement where the Corvette was usually parked, Officer Traylor noted an oily shoeprint from a shoe or boot that had a "vibram lug type sole." The two mothers "knew basically where things were, but it was a very difficult task to make some determination if there was anything missing."

On Sunday, July 10, 1983, further investigation at the Franklin residence disclosed the name "John Peoples" written in eyebrow pencil on the top of a clothes hamper in the bathroom. The name was covered by a piece of toilet tissue lying over the name and the end of a towel on a towel rack draped over the clothes hamper. Judy Franklin's mother recognized the handwriting as being Judy's. It was determined that the name had been written there after July 2, 1983. Mr. Franklin's mother then informed the officers that John Peoples was someone she knew and that he had worked for her son around the house. She also told them John Peoples had borrowed money from her son in the past and had lately been trying to borrow more money. She also described him as being a "big robust type fellow, a big man."

The next morning, Monday, July 11, 1983, the officers learned that on the previous Friday, a large man named John Peoples had attempted to sell a red Corvette with a "59 tag" to Regal Pontiac Company in Sylacauga. He was described as being about 6'4""' and weighing 240 pounds.

On July 11, 1983, Childersburg Police Chief Ira Finn received a telephone call from a Childersburg druggist concerning a man being at the drug store trying to sell a red Corvette. Chief Finn knew the car was listed "on the N.C.I.C. machine," and when he gave the druggist the tag and registration numbers of the car, the druggist told him that was the car the man at the drug store was trying to sell. Chief Finn notified officers to go to the drug store. Assistant Police Chief Lewis Finn arrived at the drug store at about 1:29 p.m., where he found the appellant and the red Corvette. The officer walked in the drug store and asked Peoples if the car was his, and he replied that it was. Outside, the officer informed the appellant he would have to come to the police station. The appellant was allowed to drive the Corvette to the station while officers followed in a police car.

At the police station, the appellant was taken into Chief Finn's office, and Chief Finn told him the Corvette had been reported stolen from Pell City and that the three family members were missing. The appellant replied, "Well, by god, I didn't steal the car. I've got a bill of sale for it." He then threw a piece of paper on the chief's desk. The chief looked at it without picking it up, and replied, "Well, that ain't too much of a bill of sale. It's not notarized." The appellant responded, "Well, I've got a goddamn tag receipt," and he threw another piece of paper on the desk. He was then told he would have to wait until the arrival of A.B.I. officers, whom Chief Finn had already notified.

Upon receiving the call in Talladega from Chief Finn, St. Clair Deputy Sheriff Owen Harmon and A.B.I. Officer Ed Traylor immediately drove to Childersburg. They arrived at the Childersburg police station around 2:15 p.m., about 20 minutes after the appellant had been brought in. The officers talked to Chief Finn for some 20 to 30 minutes. Chief Finn gave the officers the purported bill of sale. The entire handwritten document reads:

"I Paul Franklin trade John Peoples one 1968 Corvette for 50 percent ownership of the C.J. Supper Club.

"/s/ Paul G. Franklin

/s/ John W. Peoples

/s/ Judy Franklin

Page 558


59A7093 59-5560"

However, the man who actually owned C.J. Supper Club, one Curtis Jackson, came to the police station and told the officers the supper club belonged to him and that the only right, title, or interest the appellant had in the supper club was "operating rights from June the 15th to July the 15th."

The appellant was given a Miranda warning at about 2:45 p.m.; at that point, he had been at the police station about an hour and 15...

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