Springer v. Commonwealth, 96-SC-502-MR

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
Writing for the CourtJustice Cooper
Citation998 S.W.2d 439
PartiesKIMBERLY SPRINGER, APPELLANT v. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, APPELLEEALEXANDRA EADES, APPELLANT
Docket Number96-SC-502-MR,96-SC-503-MR
Decision Date22 April 1999

[1]
998 S.W.2d 439

[2]
KIMBERLY SPRINGER, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, APPELLEE
ALEXANDRA EADES, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, APPELLEE
[3]
96-SC-502-MR,, 96-SC-503-MR
[4]
Kentucky Supreme Court
[5]
APPEAL FROM KENTON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE PATRICIA M. SUMME, JUDGE 95-CR-307-1 APPEAL FROM KENTON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE PATRICIA M. SUMME, JUDGE 95-CR-307-2
[6]
April 22, 1999
[7] Attorney For Appellant Springer Thomas M. Ransdell Assistant Public Advocate Department of Public Advocacy Suite 302 100 Fair Oaks Lane Frankfort, KY 40601 Attorney For Appellant Eades Richard Hoffman Assistant Public Advocate Department of Public Advocacy Suite 302 100 Fair Oaks Lane Frankfort, KY 40601 Attorneys For Appellees A. B. Chandler, III Attorney General State Capitol P-0. Box 2000 Frankfort, KY 40602-2000 Samuel J. Floyd, Jr Assistant Attorney General Office of Attorney General Criminal Appellate Division 1024 Capital Center Drive Frankfort, KY 40601-8204
[8] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cooper
[9] AS MODIFIED: MAY 3, 1999
[10] TO BE PUBLISHED
[11] REVERSING AND REMANDING
[12] Ernest Springer was killed by a single gunshot wound to his left temple while asleep in his bed during the early morning hours of May 21, 1995. His wife, Kimberly Springer, and his wife's sister, Alexandra Eades, were jointly charged with his murder. On the night of the murder, Eades confessed to police that she fired the fatal shot and Springer confessed to being an accomplice. At trial, Springer claimed she shot and killed her husband because of physical and sexual abuse which he had inflicted upon her, and because of his threat to sexually abuse her daughter. Eades denied any involvement in the killing. Eades was convicted as the principal and Springer as an accomplice to the murder. Each was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment. Both appeal to this Court as a matter of right. KY-Const. § 110(2) (b). The claims of error are that (1) the appellants were not allotted the proper number of peremptory strikes; (2) their respective confessions should have been suppressed; (3) evidence of prior sexual acts by Springer should have been suppressed; (4) and (5) the jury was improperly instructed with respect to both defendants; (6) the evidence was insufficient to support Eades's conviction; (7) the trial Judge improperly limited the scope of voir dire; (8) Springer's counsel was absent at critical stages of the proceedings; and (9) at sentencing, Springer was denied the domestic violence exemptions from KRS 533.060(l) and KRS 439.3401(4).
[13] I. PEREMPTORY STRIKES.
[14] The trial Judge seated one alternate juror and allotted nine peremptory strikes to the Commonwealth and a total of eleven peremptory strikes to the appellants, nine to be exercised jointly and one each to be exercised independently of the other. Appellants claim that they are entitled to at least twelve peremptory strikes. We conclude that they were entitled to thirteen.
[15] Prior to September 15, 1990, RCr 9.40 provided in pertinent part as follows:
[16] (1) If the offense charged is a felony, the Commonwealth is entitled to five (5) peremptory challenges and the defendant or defendants jointly to eight (8) peremptory challenges. . . .
[17] (2) If one (1) or two (2) additional jurors are called, the number of peremptory challenges allowed each side shall be increased by one (1).
[18] (3) If more than one defendant is being tried, the court may at its discretion allow additional peremptory challenges to each defendant.
[19] Under this version of the Rule, the trial Judge was granted substantial latitude in allocating (or not) additional peremptory challenges to codefendants. E.s., Turnin v. Commonwealth, KY., 780 S.w.2d 619 (1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1058 (1990); Smith v. Commonwealth, KY., 375 S.W.2d 819 (1964). Effective September 15, 1990, RCr 9.40 was amended as follows (underlined portions added, crossed-out portions deleted):
[20] (1) If the offense charged is a felony, the Commonwealth is entitled to five (5) peremptory challenges and the defendant or defendants jointly to eight (8) peremptory challenges. . . .
[21] (2) If one (1) or two (2) additional jurors are called, the number of peremptory challenges allowed each side and each defendant shall be increased by one (1).
[22] (3) If more than one defendant is being tried, each defendant shall be entitled to at least one additional peremotory challenge to be exercised independently of any other defendant.
[23] Subsection (1) was amended effective October 1, 1994, to increase the Commonwealth's peremptory challenges to eight. Thus, the basic entitlement to peremptory challenges under RCr 9.40(l) is eight for the Commonwealth and eight for the defense. If more than one defendant is being tried, the defendants are entitled to a total of ten peremptory challenges: eight to be exercised jointly pursuant to RCr 9.40(l), and one each to be exercised independently pursuant to RCr 9.40(3). If one or two additional (alternate) jurors are seated, the defendants are entitled to a total of thirteen peremptory challenges: nine to be exercised jointly pursuant to RCr 9.40(l) and (2); one each to be exercised independently pursuant to RCr 9.40(3); and an additional one each to be exercised independently pursuant to RCr 9.40 (2) :
[24] RCr 9.40(l) -- 8 (per side)
[25] RCr 9.40(3) -- 2 (one per defendant if tried jointly)
[26] RCr 9.40(2) -- 1 (one "each side" if alternate jurors seated)
[27] RCr 9.40(2) -- 2 (one "each defendant" if alternate jurors seated)
[28] 13 total.
[29] The trial Judge interpreted subsections (2) and (3) of the Rule as mutually exclusive, reasoning that the provision in subsection (3) allowing each defendant "one additional peremptory challenge to be exercised independently" applies only if no alternate jurors are seated, and that the provision in subsection (2) that the peremptory challenges for "each defendant shall be increased by one (1)" applies only if alternate jurors are seated. However, this interpretation ignores the fact that without subsection (3), each defendant did not have an "additional peremptory challenge to be exercised independently" which "shall be increased by one (1)" in the event alternate jurors are seated. Although the 1990 amendment of RCr 9.40 resulted in an awkward arrangement of the subsections of that rule, the intent of the amendment is clear. If more than one defendant is tried, each defendant is entitled to at least one additional peremptory challenge to be exercised independently; and if one or two alternate jurors are seated at that trial, those additional peremptories are increased by one each for a total of two per defendant.
[30] In Kentucky Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Cook, Ky., 590 S.W.2d 875 (1979), we held that an erroneous allocation of peremptory challenges is not subject to harmless error analysis, and that "reversal and a new trial should be awarded as a matter of law." Id. at 877. In Thomas v. Commonwealth, Ky., 864 S.W.2d 252 (1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1177 (1994), we reiterated this principle in the context of a criminal trial and held that, Il[t]he rules specifying the number of peremptory challenges are not mere technicalities, they are substantial rights and are to be fully enforced." Id. at 259. Accordingly, this case must be reversed for a new trial because of the failure to allot appellants the proper number of peremptory strikes. Because the other issues raised by the appellants are likely to recur upon retrial, those issues will also be addressed in this opinion.
[31] II. CONFESSIONS.
[32] The police arrived at the Springer residence at approximately 5:25 a.m. on the morning of May 25 and began their crime scene investigation, which was completed at approximately 8:l0 a.m. Springer, Eades and a friend, Juan Cardonas, remained in the living room of the residence during this phase of the investigation. Although appellants claim they were denied access to family and friends during this period, the police ingress/egress log reflects and the trial Judge found that Ruby Eades, mother of the appellants, was admitted to the residence at 6:l0 a.m. and remained until 8:l0 a.m., and that at least three other family members or friends were also present in the residence for shorter periods of time. At 8:l0 a.m., both appellants left the residence and accompanied police officers to the police station.
[33] At approximately 10:20 a.m., Springer was informed of her rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (19661, and gave a statement in which she denied any involvement in the death of her husband. At approximately 11:55 a.m., Eades was advised of her Miranda rights and was requested to make a statement. She protested that this was not a good time to be interrogated, because she had been up all night drinking and smoking marijuana. However, she did not request counsel and did not specifically assert her right against self-incrimination. She then gave a statement in which she denied any involvement in the death of Ernest Springer. The police officers discussed among themselves the contents of the respective statements given by Springer and Eades and concluded that the sisters were withholding information. They decided to "run a ruse" on Eades.
[34] There had been an unrelated homicide at the Springer residence several months earlier, following which a neighbor, Mr. Shide, had taken it upon himself to use his police scanner to intercept cordless telephone calls emanating from the Springer residence. He used a video recorder to tape the contents of these calls and furnished the police a copy of the videotape, which included recordings of Ernest Springer's voice. The recorded conversations were generally innocuous and contained nothing tending to incriminate the conversants in any criminal activity. Although the recordings had nothing to do with the investigation of Ernest Springer's death, the police officers
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252 practice notes
  • St. Clair v. Commonwealth, 2011-SC-000774-MR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 21, 2014
    ...'[a] new theory of error cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.'" Fischer, 348 S.W.3d at 588 (quoting Springer v. Commonwealth, 998 S.W.2d 439, 446 (Ky. 1999)) (second alteration in original). But, as St. Clair notes, the standard of review of unpreserved errors in death penalty cas......
  • Staples v. Commonwealth, No. 2011–SC–000788–MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • April 17, 2014
    ...the Commonwealth's view is consistent with both the facts of record and the law.As this Court explained in Springer v. Commonwealth, 998 S.W.2d 439 (Ky.1999), under RCr 9.40, in a joint criminal trial such as this one the defendants are entitled to nine (instead of the usual eight) perempto......
  • St. Clair v. Commonwealth, No. 2011–SC–000774–MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 21, 2014
    ...‘[a] new theory of error cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.’ ” Fischer, 348 S.W.3d at 588 (quoting Springer v. Commonwealth, 998 S.W.2d 439, 446 (Ky.1999) ) (second alteration in original).But, as St. Clair notes, the standard of review of unpreserved errors in death penalty cas......
  • Fields v. Com., No. 1997-SC-0424-MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • February 24, 2000
    ...manslaughter as a lesser included offense; and the failure to do so Page 283 is prejudicial error. Springer v. Commonwealth, Ky., 998 S.W.2d 439, 454-55 (1999); Slaven v. Commonwealth, supra, at 856-57. Having determined that Appellant was entitled to an instruction on the defense of volunt......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
252 cases
  • St. Clair v. Commonwealth, 2011-SC-000774-MR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 21, 2014
    ...'[a] new theory of error cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.'" Fischer, 348 S.W.3d at 588 (quoting Springer v. Commonwealth, 998 S.W.2d 439, 446 (Ky. 1999)) (second alteration in original). But, as St. Clair notes, the standard of review of unpreserved errors in death penalty cas......
  • Staples v. Commonwealth, No. 2011–SC–000788–MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • April 17, 2014
    ...the Commonwealth's view is consistent with both the facts of record and the law.As this Court explained in Springer v. Commonwealth, 998 S.W.2d 439 (Ky.1999), under RCr 9.40, in a joint criminal trial such as this one the defendants are entitled to nine (instead of the usual eight) perempto......
  • St. Clair v. Commonwealth, No. 2011–SC–000774–MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 21, 2014
    ...‘[a] new theory of error cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.’ ” Fischer, 348 S.W.3d at 588 (quoting Springer v. Commonwealth, 998 S.W.2d 439, 446 (Ky.1999) ) (second alteration in original).But, as St. Clair notes, the standard of review of unpreserved errors in death penalty cas......
  • Fields v. Com., No. 1997-SC-0424-MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • February 24, 2000
    ...manslaughter as a lesser included offense; and the failure to do so Page 283 is prejudicial error. Springer v. Commonwealth, Ky., 998 S.W.2d 439, 454-55 (1999); Slaven v. Commonwealth, supra, at 856-57. Having determined that Appellant was entitled to an instruction on the defense of volunt......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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