Samuels v. State

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtTYSON
Citation584 So.2d 958
PartiesVada SAMUELS, alias v. STATE. CR 89-1318.
Decision Date26 April 1991

Page 958

584 So.2d 958
Vada SAMUELS, alias
v.
STATE.
CR 89-1318.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
April 26, 1991.
Rehearing Denied May 31, 1991.

Page 959

Kathleen M. Warren, Gadsden, for appellant.

James H. Evans, Atty. Gen., and Margaret S. Childers, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

TYSON, Judge.

The appellant was indicted for murder in violation of § 13A-6-2, Code of Alabama 1975, and conspiracy to commit murder in violation of § 13A-4-3, Code of Alabama 1975. He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 48 years in prison. He raises five issues on appeal. The relevant facts will be discussed as they arise below.

I

The appellant first contends that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence a pair of sweatpants with blood on them and a photograph of the sweatpants because, he argues, they were not worn by the victim and were inflammatory and prejudicial. It appears from the record that only a photograph of the sweatpants and not the pants themselves were admitted into evidence.

Thomas Bradley, a police detective with the City of Gadsden who investigated the scene of the crime, testified that a pair of Adidas warm-up pants with blood on them were found near the victim's body. He also testified as to other items found at the scene. Bradley then testified that he took photographs of the crime scene. At that point, the appellant's attorney requested that the admissibility of the photographs be discussed. During the sidebar discussion, there was a reference to the sweatpants which could have been interpreted as being a reference to the sweatpants themselves rather than the photograph. Our review of the entire record, however, leads us to the conclusion that only a photograph of the sweatpants were admitted. The following notation by the court reporter appears in the record immediately following the sidebar discussion: "Whereupon four photographs were handed to the court reporter and marked for identification as State's Exhibits 4 through 7." (R. 179.) Furthermore, there is no reference to the sweatpants themselves in the list of exhibits in the record. Although other items of physical evidence (e.g., the murder weapon, spent shotgun shells, etc.) are specifically referred to in the list of exhibits, there is no reference to the sweatpants. Thus, we need not address appellant's contention that the admission of the sweatpants themselves was error.

A photograph of the sweatpants was admitted into evidence. The admissibility of photographs lies within the trial court's discretion and will be reviewed only to determine whether there has been an abuse of that discretion. Jackson v. State, 553 So.2d 647 (Ala.Crim.App.1989); Barnes v. State, 445 So.2d 995 (Ala.Crim.App.1984). Photographs of the crime scene tend to lead the jury to a better understanding of the surroundings and may be admissible for that purpose. McAdams v. State, 378 So.2d 1197 (Ala.Crim.App.1979). We find that the trial court did not err in admitting the photograph. The photograph was illustrative of the crime scene and corroborated the testimony of Detective Bradley. See, e.g., Harrell v. State, 470 So.2d 1303 (Ala.Crim.App.1984), aff'd, 470 So.2d 1309 (Ala.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 935, 106 S.Ct. 269, 88 L.Ed.2d 276 (1985). Even if the trial court had erred in admitting the photograph, such error would have been harmless as the photograph was not used in any manner to identify or incriminate the appellant or to connect him to the crime. See, e.g., Carroll v. State, 370 So.2d 749 (Ala.Crim.App.), cert. denied, 370 So.2d 761 (Ala.1979).

Page 960

II

The appellant next contends that the trial court erred in not allowing the appellant to question a defense witness as to the victim's reputation for carrying a gun.

"If the evidence tends to show that the accused acted in self-defense, the accused is entitled to prove that the deceased was in the habit of carrying firearms or other deadly weapons or that he had the reputation of being habitually armed. Such evidence, however, is only admissible if the accused has introduced or offers to introduce other evidence that he knew or had been informed of such habit prior to the alleged offense, as otherwise it could not have influenced his conduct."

C. Gamble, McElroy's Alabama Evidence § 63.01(2) (3rd ed. 1977). See, also, Vander Wielen v. State, 47 Ala.App. 108, 251 So.2d 240, cert. denied, 287 Ala. 742, 251 So.2d 246 (1971). "The cases do not go to the extent of supporting the contention that a witness other than defendant knew this fact when such fact is not traced to defendant's knowledge." Vander Wielen, 47 Ala.App. at 111, 251 So.2d at 242 (quoting Sims v. State, 139 Ala. 74, 36 So. 138, 140 (1904)). The appellant did not present any evidence prior to the time the question was asked that the appellant knew of the victim's reputation for carrying a weapon, nor did he make an offer to prove such knowledge. Thus, the trial court did not err in disallowing the testimony. See, e.g., Burnett v. State, 380 So.2d 1021 (Ala.Crim.App.1980). We also note, that even if the trial court had erred, the appellant never made an offer of proof, and the record does not indicate what the witness's response would have been. If no offer of proof is made and the witness's answer is not apparent in the record, this court will apply the harmless error rule rather than speculate on the materiality of the witness's answer. Ex parte Glover, 508 So.2d 218 (Ala.1987).

III

The appellant contends that the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion for mistrial and subsequent motion for new trial which were based on the ground that the appellant's codefendant was on the jury panel from which his jury was selected. The record reveals that prior to the voir dire examination of the jury venire, the district attorney approached the bench and informed the trial judge that a codefendant in the case was on jury duty and that he also had a case on the trial judge's docket that morning in which a forfeiture was entered because he had not appeared. The trial judge stated that the matter would be discussed at the break. During the preliminary examination of the jury venire, the codefendant, Darin Jones,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 practice notes
  • Gavin v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 26, 2003
    ...discretion and will be reviewed only to 891 So.2d 963 determine whether there has been an abuse of that discretion." Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958, 959 The photograph of the murder weapon was properly admitted into evidence. The murder weapon was, of course, highly relevant to the trial. ......
  • Jackson v. State, CR-91-820
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 30, 1993
    ...prejudicial situation and found that the jurors had not been influenced by the presence of the codefendant." Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958, 961 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 584 So.2d 963 (Ala.1991). Moreover, the trial court "thoroughly instructed the jury not to discuss the matter with a......
  • Jackson v. State, 4 Div. 388
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 21, 1992
    ...advisory verdict of life imprisonment without parole, any error was harmless and did not prejudice the appellant. Cf. Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 584 So.2d 963 (Ala.1991) (although defendant alleged that trial court improperly denied his motion for judgment ......
  • McCart v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 1, 1999
    ...being generally a matter of inference from the acts of the participants.' Connelly, 30 Ala.App. at 92, 1 So.2d at 607." Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958, 962 (Ala. Cr.App.), cert. denied, 584 So.2d 963 (Ala. "`In addition, it need not be shown that the defendant knew all of the details of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Gavin v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 26, 2003
    ...discretion and will be reviewed only to 891 So.2d 963 determine whether there has been an abuse of that discretion." Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958, 959 The photograph of the murder weapon was properly admitted into evidence. The murder weapon was, of course, highly relevant to the trial. ......
  • Jackson v. State, CR-91-820
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 30, 1993
    ...prejudicial situation and found that the jurors had not been influenced by the presence of the codefendant." Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958, 961 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 584 So.2d 963 (Ala.1991). Moreover, the trial court "thoroughly instructed the jury not to discuss the matter with a......
  • Jackson v. State, 4 Div. 388
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 21, 1992
    ...advisory verdict of life imprisonment without parole, any error was harmless and did not prejudice the appellant. Cf. Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 584 So.2d 963 (Ala.1991) (although defendant alleged that trial court improperly denied his motion for judgment ......
  • McCart v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 1, 1999
    ...being generally a matter of inference from the acts of the participants.' Connelly, 30 Ala.App. at 92, 1 So.2d at 607." Samuels v. State, 584 So.2d 958, 962 (Ala. Cr.App.), cert. denied, 584 So.2d 963 (Ala. "`In addition, it need not be shown that the defendant knew all of the details of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT