Sams v. State, 6 Div. 782

Decision Date10 June 1986
Docket Number6 Div. 782
Citation506 So.2d 1027
PartiesLoree SAMS v. STATE.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

TYSON, Judge.

On November 12, 1985, this court reversed and remanded the appellant's conviction of vehicular homicide on the authority of Newberry v. State, 493 So.2d 993 (Ala.Crim.App.1985), and Whirley v. State, 481 So.2d 1151 (Ala.Crim.App.1985), cert. quashed 481 So.2d 1154, (Ala.1986) which held that the statute under which this appellant was charged, i.e., § 32-5A-192 Code of Alabama 1975, was unconstitutional. Subsequently, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed this court's holding in Newberry and Sams holding the statute in issue to be constitutional. See, Newberry v. State, 493 So.2d 995 (Ala.1986); and Sams v. State, 506 So.2d 1027 (Ala.1986). It is now incumbent upon this court to review the record in this cause to determine if there be instances of legal error.

This cause arises from an incident which occurred at the intersection of 22nd Street and 7th Avenue in Birmingham, Alabama on June 16, 1984, in which a vehicle driven by the appellant went through a red light and struck a vehicle driven by Deborah Poteete causing the death of Mrs. Poteete.

Terry Singleton testified that she was traveling to work on the morning of June 16, 1984 when, at approximately 7:50 a.m., she observed an automobile collision. Ms. Singleton was stopped for a red light at the intersection of 7th Avenue and 22nd Street and, while waiting for the light to change, she observed in her rear view mirror a blue car approaching at a "fast speed". The blue car swerved around her "straddling the turn lane", went into the intersection against the light and struck another car traveling through the intersection. Ms. Singleton estimated the blue car's speed at 50 miles per hour and stated that, as the car passed her, she did not see any brake lights or hear a horn blow.

When the collision occurred, Ms. Singleton stopped her car and went over to Mrs. Poteete who was lying in the street. She then checked on the driver of the blue car, this appellant, and stated that the appellant was crying.

Mike Burkett testified that he observed the collision and that he believed the blue car, (i.e., the appellant) was traveling at 55 miles per hour.

Pam Sims testified that she was in her car stopped at a red light at the time of the collision. She stated that she looked in her rear view mirror and observed a blue car approaching very fast. In her opinion this car was traveling 55-60 miles per hour. As the blue car approached her, it swerved to her left, went through the red light and struck another vehicle. Sims stated that, as the blue car swerved around her, she looked for brake lights, but saw none. Sims stated that she did not hear a horn blow. After the collision, Sims walked over to the blue car and observed this appellant sitting inside the car.

John Green testified that he was a police officer for the City of Birmingham, Alabama. He took several photographs of the accident scene which were admitted into evidence. He checked the brake pedal by depressing it. It felt stiff and moved about one-half inch.

Lou Hollingsworth testified that he was a Birmingham police officer and that the speed limit at the place where the collision in question took place was 30 miles per hour.

Dr. Robert Brissie testified that he was employed as the Jefferson County Coroner and Medical Examiner. He testified in essence that Mrs. Poteete died of blunt force injuries to the head and chest.

Joe Biddy testified that he was the shop foreman at the Birmingham Municipal Garage. He stated that he was familiar with the braking system on the type car Ms. Sams was driving, a 1976 Chevrolet. He stated that the car has a dual braking system, one for the front brakes and one for the rear brakes. Based on his experience, it was his opinion that only one in one thousand times would both systems fail. Biddy stated that, with the engine turned off and assuming the brake system failed, the pedal would be stiff, but would go down to within an inch of the floorboard. If both systems failed, the pedal would go all the way down to the floor. Biddy further testified as to how and under what conditions the accelerator would stick in a depressed state.

The appellant testified in substance that, on the day in question, she had taken her son to summer school. When her son got out of the car, she put the car into drive. She had her foot on the brake and, without her touching the accelerator, the car began to accelerate. She stated that the brakes would not stop the car and it just got "faster and faster". She proceeded down 7th Avenue and, when she reached 22nd Street, she swerved around a car stopped for a red light and hit the car driven by the deceased, Deborah Poteete.

A number of witnesses testified on behalf of the appellant as to her good reputation for truth and veracity in the community.

I

Appellant argues that the trial judge committed reversible error in overruling her objection to a comment of the prosecutor made during closing argument. The comment which appellant alleges as reversible error is as follows: (R. 244)

"MR. WALLACE: You have to believe that the brakes were not enough to stop the car. I don't believe the brakes were applied.

"MR. APPELL: Judge, I object to what he believes.

"THE COURT: Overruled. You can draw inferences from the evidence, if they are reasonable."

While it is never proper for the prosecutor to express his personal opinion as to the...

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7 cases
  • McWhorter v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 27, 1999
    ...So.2d 395, cert. denied, 291 Ala. 794, 277 So.2d 404 (1973); Mainor v. State, 339 So.2d 147 (Ala.Crim. App.1976)." "`Sams v. State, 506 So.2d 1027, 1029 (Ala.Cr.App.1986).' "Wilson v. State, 652 So.2d 778, 781 "... The prosecutor was not expressing his personal opinion as to the appellant's......
  • Whitehead v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 27, 1999
    ...So.2d 395, cert. denied, 291 Ala. 794, 277 So.2d 404 (1973); Mainor v. State, 339 So.2d 147 (Ala.Crim.App. 1976)." "`Sams v. State, 506 So.2d 1027, 1029 (Ala.Cr.App.1986).'" "Wilson v. State, 652 So.2d 778, 781 "We have examined the instances the appellant cites, as well as the context of t......
  • Drinkard v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • December 18, 1998
    ...So.2d 395, cert. denied, 291 Ala. 794, 277 So.2d 404 (1973); Mainor v. State, 339 So.2d 147 (Ala.Crim. App.1976).' "Sams v. State, 506 So.2d 1027, 1029 (Ala.Cr.App.1986)." Wilson v. State, 652 So.2d 778, 781 (Ala.Cr. We have examined the instances the appellant cites, as well as the context......
  • Griffin v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • December 10, 1999
    ...to be drawn from the facts and evidence, as long as she does not express an opinion as to the defendant's guilt." Sams v. State, 506 So.2d 1027, 1029 (Ala. Cr.App.1986). Accordingly, we find no error in the prosecutor's C. Alleged instances of prosecutorial misconduct during the state's sec......
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