Quick v. State, 43584

Decision Date12 March 1987
Docket NumberNo. 43584,43584
Citation353 S.E.2d 497,256 Ga. 780
PartiesQUICK v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Charles P. Rose, Jr., Hinesville, for Joseph Quick.

Dupont K. Cheney, Dist. Atty., J. Thomas Durden, Jr., Asst. Dist. Atty., Hinesville, Michael J. Bowers, Atty. Gen., Eddie Snelling, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

CLARKE, Presiding Justice.

Joseph Quick was convicted of murder by a Liberty County jury and sentenced to die. He now appeals, raising ten enumerations of error. 1


The victim, Larry Dupree, worked as an undercover drug agent for the Liberty County Sheriff's Office, and was scheduled to testify in a number of cases involving the defendant's employer, Cal Armfield.

Early in the evening of June 16, 1985, as Dupree and his wife sat in their car in the driveway of their home, preparing to leave, a shotgun-wielding assailant came around the corner of their trailer and approached the driver's side window of their car. Mrs. Dupree, the driver, was bent over to adjust her seat, and looked up just in time to see the assailant point the shotgun at the window and fire. The assailant immediately ran away.

The shot struck Larry Dupree on the left side of the neck, lacerating his voice box and a major artery in his neck, and within a matter of minutes causing his death. The autopsist recovered from the body two pieces of wadding (the presence of which indicated a muzzle-to-target distance of six feet or less) and a lead slug.

Mrs. Dupree described the assailant to sheriff's investigators and told them that she did not know the assailant's name, but he had been a customer on several occasions at a fast-food restaurant where she was employed, and she would recognize him if she saw him again.

The investigators, agreeing that the description given to them by Mrs. Dupree sounded like Joseph Quick, proceeded to his residence in a trailer park owned by Cal Armfield.

Meanwhile, a detective experienced in tracking followed the tracks of the assailant approximately one-half mile to the residence of Cal Armfield's mother. Nearby, he found a .12 gauge Winchester Super X shell casing, labeled one ounce (indicating a "slug load").

Quick consented to a search of his residence, and investigators seized clothes matching the description given by Mrs. Dupree, and shoes having a tread design, size, and shape consistent with the tracks observed leading away from the crime scene.

Mrs. Dupree identified Quick from a "mug book," and subsequently picked him out of a lineup.

During the incarceration following his arrest, the defendant wrote the following letter:

"Cal Armfield

"There's a car up here car lot beside McDonald there a between 77-80 I want you to get in my wife name Mrs. Gloria Lee Quick and insurance Now I figure between Sat. after visiting and Sunday you will get this message, of course you think you got it figure out so you will be stupid enough to don't do what I say this time Well the last one my wife talk me outer doing what I was going to do turn you in Not this time because if this time schedule isn't met I will have Det. Dasher and Sike to come to the sail and give them the information they want and testify aginst you I'm tire of your ... You ... me around and my wife but if by Thursday visiting day when she come and don't be driving her own car and money from you to give me before she leave I will get the bailer to make that call and put the Detective on you Mr. Bad ... You is going to pay me or go to prison ... They want you not me but of course you got it figure out right?

"You ... my family around so far because of my wife is the reason you isn't already up here ... over me. Concerning that trailer and my cloths changing your phone number well if my wife don't have her on car Thursday I'm going to show you what can happen smart ..., let you sit up in here You won't make no bond on no contact killing.

"So let's see Cal James Armfield you noticed I know your whole name The detective told me and with my help they can nail you without if you is cool Now only till Thursday Mr. Cal James Armfield dig? Jimmie Joe." (Profanity deleted.)

Enumerations of Error

1. In his 3rd enumeration of error, Quick argues that the identification by Mrs. Dupree was unreliable and should have been suppressed. We find here no impermissibly suggestive photographic display or line up procedures, nor any substantial likelihood of misidentification. See Wiley v. State, 250 Ga. 343(1), 296 S.E.2d 714 (1982); Rivers v. State, 250 Ga. 303(4), 298 S.E.2d 1 (1982). The trial court did not err by allowing Mrs. Dupree to testify.

2. In his 4th enumeration, Quick contends the evidence does not support his conviction for murder. This contention is premised upon the success of his 3rd enumeration of error. Inasmuch as we find no merit to enumeration 3, we find no merit to this one. The evidence supports the conviction. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).

3. Quick's first two enumerations relate to the voir dire.

(a) He argues that a juror opposed to the death penalty was improperly excused. We disagree. The juror testified initially that "The idea of being responsible for another person's life would be hard for me to deal with ... I don't honestly know whether or not I could live with the decision that I was responsible for ... being one of the persons responsible for a guilty verdict." She testified that she thought her attitude towards the death penalty would prevent her from making an impartial decision as to the defendant's guilt. On examination by the district attorney, she testified that her attitude toward the death penalty would (1) cause her to vote against it no matter what the evidence, (2) prevent her from making an impartial decision based on the evidence, and (3) make it impossible to subordinate her feelings against the death penalty to the oath she would take as a juror to follow the instructions of the court.

Against all this, Quick can point only to her testimony that she "would try" to put her feelings aside but did not "know that [she] could."

We do not agree that this juror merely expressed "qualms" about capital punishment. The trial court was authorized on this record to find that her views on capital punishment would prevent or substantially impair the performance of her duties as a juror in accordance with her oath and the instructions of the court. Alderman v. State, 254 Ga. 206(4), 327 S.E.2d 168 (1985). See also, Curry v. State, 255 Ga. 215(2e), 336 S.E.2d 762 (1985).

(b) Quick complains of the court's failure to ask the statutory voir dire questions contained in OCGA § 15-12-164 to the fourth panel of jurors. This oversight was not brought to the court's attention at trial. Absent a timely objection, we find no reversible error. Gober v. State, 247 Ga. 652(2), 278 S.E.2d 386 (1981); Smith v. State, 68 Ga. 611(4), 148 S.E. 531 (1929). We note that both parties had ample opportunity during the sequestered voir dire proceedings to ask any questions which might establish bias or prejudice on the part of any of the prospective jurors. See Jordan v. State, 247 Ga. 328(6), 276 S.E.2d 224 (1981).

4. A Liberty County jail supervisor testified on behalf of the state that she had observed the defendant's writing on a number of occasions; the defendant had signed his name and filled out various questionnaires in her presence while in custody pending the trial of this case. She testified that she was familiar with his writing and would recognize it, and identified the handwriting on the letter to Cal Armfield as the defendant's.

In his 5th enumeration, Quick argues that the letter should have been excluded because it was irrelevant, and because the handwriting was not sufficiently identified as his. We cannot agree.

"Proof of handwriting may be resorted to in the absence of direct evidence of execution. In such a case, any witness who shall swear that he knows or would recognize the handwriting shall be competent to testify as to his belief. The source of his knowledge shall be a question for investigation and shall go entirely to the credit and weight of his evidence." OCGA § 24-7-6.

"A non-expert witness may identify the handwriting of a particular individual (as he would identify the individual himself), provided he knows the handwriting or is so familiar with it that he would recognize it. [Cit.]" Copeland v. State, 66 Ga.App. 142, 143(4), 17 S.E.2d 288 (1941).

"The letter was relevant, and that it was in the handwriting of the accused was sufficiently proved to warrant the court in admitting it in evidence as a document emanating from him." Rumph v. State, 91 Ga. 20, 21, 16 S.E. 104 (1892).

5. Six months after his arrest, and a month before his trial began, Quick was caught attempting to escape by digging or chipping out the concrete from around his cell window. Evidence of this attempt was admitted at trial. In his 6th enumeration, Quick contends this evidence should have been excluded, on the ground that the attempt was too remote in time from the commission of the crime to be relevant.

As the defendant concedes, "the great weight of authority in this state is contrary to this position." See e.g., Welborn v. State, 236 Ga. 319(1), 223 S.E.2d 698 (1976); Johnson v. State, 188 Ga. 771(2), 4 S.E.2d 639 (1939). We find no error.

6. Just as the jury deliberations were to begin at the sentencing phase of the trial, the foreman delivered to the court the following note: "We have a juror who is afraid for her life. She lives in the neighborhood of [Cal] Armfield ... Do you think the Court should know this, possibly excuse her?"

At a bench conference, Quick's attorney stated, "If it would relieve her, that's fine with me, your Honor." The district attorney agreed.

The court excused the juror and substituted an alternate.

After the jury returned its verdict recommending a death sentence, the defendant for the first time expressed concern...

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