Reese v. State

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation456 So.2d 341
Docket Number6 Div. 726
PartiesMichael Beryl REESE v. STATE.
Decision Date28 December 1982

John G. Ratcliff of Walker, Feazel & Tooke, Shreveport, La., for appellant.

Charles A. Graddick, Atty. Gen., and J. Anthony McLain and James F. Hampton, Sp. Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellee.

DeCARLO, Judge.

Attempted arson in the second degree; twenty years.

The appellant was indicted and convicted for attempted second degree arson of the Galilee Baptist Church in violation of §§ 13A-7-42 and 13A-4-2(a), Code of Alabama 1975. This offense is a Class C felony under § 13A-4-2(d)(3), Code of Alabama 1975.

At appellant's sentencing hearing it was determined that appellant had a prior felony conviction for violation of the "National Firearms Act" under federal statute 26 U.S.C.A. § 5861(d). The trial court then sentenced appellant as a recidivist to twenty years' imprisonment pursuant to § 13A-5-9(a)(1), Code of Alabama, supra.

The State's evidence revealed that Ms. Laura Strickland, a member of the Galilee Baptist Church in the Bessemer Division of Jefferson County, went to the church for a teachers' meeting around 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 1980. Attached to the front door of the church Ms. Strickland saw what appeared to be a bomb. The object in question had been seen earlier around 8:30 a.m. by Ms. Hattie Mae Freeman, but had gone unreported because from her point of observation the bomb looked like a piece of paper. Ms. Freeman stated that she "thought it was for the pastor or some of the members." Ms. Strickland notified church officials who, in turn, notified the Birmingham Police Department.

Sgt. Thomas Greene, the commander of the police bomb squad, successfully deactivated the explosive device. In Sgt. Greene's expert opinion, the bomb "was indeed an explosive device" and had it been detonated at the church "a very high explosion" would have occurred. Greene stated that anyone standing nearby "would have been seriously injured or killed."

According to Sgt. Greene, the bomb had been constructed by wiring a twelve-volt J.C. Penney battery with the name "D. Swann" inscribed on top of it to a blasting cap. It was determined that the battery was a "workable battery." The blasting cap was to have been activated by a Westclox "Baby Ben" alarm clock, that was also wired to the battery, when the hands on the clock reached a particular time. Two screws had been inserted through the plastic shield to the face of the clock to hold the wiring in place and to complete the electrical circuit at the selected time. The alarm clock was wired to the battery with double-strand speaker wire. Yellow and orange insulated wires were also used in constructing the bomb. The blasting cap, once activated, would have set off the three main charges of Kinestix 1 causing an explosion. Sgt. Greene observed that the three canisters of Kinestix had been taped to the front door of the church with surgical tape.

On May 14, 1981, Greene safely disposed of the three canisters of Kinestix at a demolition Sgt. Greene further stated that pursuant to a warrant he and other law enforcement officials conducted a search of appellant's residence at 1440-D Hugh Denman Drive in Birmingham. This residence was located approximately 3.8 miles from Galilee Baptist Church. Appellant's wife and a "party by the name of Reezer" were present during the search.

                site.  "[I]t went high order, ...  It means it completely functioned ....  There was nothing left over after the explosion.  It was totally consumed.  It did everything it was supposed to do."   Greene was also able to safely detonate the blasting cap

Greene testified that on top of a closet shelf in appellant's master bedroom he found a model race car that had been taken apart and some single-strand yellow wire underneath it. When Greene attempted to put the model car back together he found that two screws were missing. He also found some double-strand wire, like that used to make the bomb, connected to a stereo speaker inside the bedroom.

In addition, Greene discovered a roll of surgical tape, like that wrapped around the three canisters of Kinestix, lying on the floor inside another bedroom. The above items of evidence were turned over to Walter L. Mitchell, Jr. of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division of the United States Treasury Department in Atlanta for comparison purposes.

Mitchell's testimony, in essence, was that the wiring, screws and surgical tape found inside appellant's residence were of the same material and had the same characteristics as the material used to make the bomb.

Dietrich Swann testified that his automobile was stolen from Morris Avenue in Birmingham around the first part of October, 1980. Swann verified that his automobile had, in fact, contained the J.C. Penney battery with his name "D. Swann" inscribed on it which was found wired to the bomb.

Kenneth Earl Bryant testified that he and Stanley Stone had stolen Swann's automobile from Morris Avenue on October 4, 1980, and that he had given the J.C. Penney battery to Dwain Reezer a few days later. Bryant identified the battery that was wired to the bomb as the one he had given Reezer. According to Bryant, he had seen the clock that was used to make the bomb in the front room of appellant's residence. At the time he saw the clock it had two holes in the front of it, one at the top and one at the bottom, "like something went in the front of it." Bryant had seen appellant with electrical tools before and had "heard he fixed radios and stuff."

Ward Cleveland, Jr. testified that appellant had taken electronic courses and had also taught electronics at the Birmingham Area Skill Center.

Dwain Keith Reezer, appellant's cousin, confirmed Bryant's testimony concerning the J.C. Penney battery and stated further that he, in turn, had given the battery to appellant about two weeks later. Reezer testified that appellant never returned the battery, even though he had asked appellant for it after hearing about the incident at Galilee Baptist Church. "He asked did I still need the battery and I asked had he got one. He said no. He said if I didn't really need it to let him use it." Appellant told Reezer that "he still had the battery. It was out in the car."

Reezer further testified that he also had been inside appellant's home on occasion and had noticed an alarm clock like the one used to make the bomb on appellant's bedroom dresser.

Starling Thomas testified that about the time the bomb was discovered at the Galilee Baptist Church appellant came to his house "on foot" to "try to get some money to get his brother out of jail." Appellant's brother, Reginald Reese, was arrested on a Tuesday, one day before the bomb was discovered at the church. Thomas stated that when he asked appellant what was wrong with his car, "he told me someone had stole his battery."

Melvin Cox testified that the morning after appellant's brother was arrested, the same day the bomb was discovered, appellant asked him to "jump" his car off with Mrs. Gwendolyn Cook testified that appellant's brother, Reginald, was arrested by the Brownsville Police Department on the Tuesday evening before the bomb was discovered at the Galilee Baptist Church. Ms. Cook's husband was the Police Commissioner for the City of Brownsville and they were members of Galilee Baptist Church. Their house was located approximately one-half mile from the church, within "walking distance." Ms. Cook saw appellant engaged in conversation with her husband around 7:30 a.m. the day the bomb was found.

                battery cables.  Cox agreed to help, but when he and appellant arrived where appellant's Pontiac automobile was parked the battery was missing.  Cox stated that appellant remarked, " 'I'll be damned, somebody ripped me off that quick.' "   Cox had seen appellant driving the automobile the night before, a few hours after appellant's brother was arrested.  Cox's house was located one block from Galilee Baptist Church

Willie Walker testified that he was employed with McBrier Construction Company in Jefferson County during the months of August, September and October of 1980. Walker stated that during the course of his employment with McBrier's he had access to blasting caps and the necessary chemical compounds to make Kinestix. "Everybody on the job had access to them." According to Walker, around the last of September or first of October in 1980, he asked the appellant "did he want some, I had some you know." Walker gave appellant a total of eight "shots" of Kinestix. "I told him I would trust him with it, you know, than anybody else. And I had it on hand. So, I gave it to him. He accepted it." Walker further testified that the canisters of Kinestix that had been taped to the front door of Galilee Baptist Church were either the same or similar to the items he had given appellant.

Sgt. Greene was recalled as a State witness and testified that on April 24, 1981, he went to the residence of Robert Reese, appellant's father. Inside a utility house located to the rear of the home Greene found five sticks of Kinestix, seven Dupont blasting caps and some orange and yellow wire. The father's residence was four-tenths of a mile from the Galilee Baptist Church.

Following Greene's testimony on recall, the State rested its case and appellant's motion to exclude was overruled.

Although no eyewitnesses placed appellant at the church with the bomb, from the foregoing facts, the circumstantial evidence connecting appellant to the crime is great. The physical evidence linking appellant to the crime, standing alone, is more than sufficient to support the jury's verdict. The applicable legal principles defining the standard of review in circumstantial evidence cases such as this have been set out in Stoner v. State, 418 So.2d...

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22 cases
  • Smith v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 25 Agosto 2000
    ...that it apprise the accused of the nature of the offense. Ex parte Hightower, 443 So.2d 1272, 1273 (Ala.1983). See also Reese [v. State, 456 So.2d 341 (Ala.Crim.App.1982)]. The indictment in the instant case tracks the language of the statute and is sufficient to apprise the appellant of th......
  • Bolden v. State, CR–14–0657.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 18 Septiembre 2015 a confidential informant's "track record" of past performances is a viable means of determining his credibility.’ Reese v. State, 456 So.2d 341, 349 (Ala.Crim.App.1982), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 838, 104 S.Ct. 127, 78 L.Ed.2d 124 (1983). See also Moynes v. State, 568 So.2d 392, 393 (Ala.Cr......
  • Spradley v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 30 Septiembre 2011
    ...and with that degree of certainty which will enable the court, on conviction, to pronounce the proper judgment.” In Reese v. State, 456 So.2d 341 (Ala.Crim.App.1982), this Court stated: “It is sufficient in an indictment to charge the elements of a statutory offense in the words of the stat......
  • CHAMBERS v. State of Ala., CR-07-0677.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 1 Mayo 2009 a confidential informant's “track record” of past performances is a viable means of determining his credibility.’ Reese v. State, 456 So.2d 341, 349 (Ala.Cr.App.1982), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 838, 104 S.Ct. 127, 78 L.Ed.2d 124 (1983). See also Moynes v. State, 568 So.2d 392, 393 (Ala.Cr.A......
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