State v. Bible

Decision Date12 August 1993
Docket NumberNo. CR-90-0167-AP,CR-90-0167-AP
Citation175 Ariz. 549,858 P.2d 1152
Parties, 62 USLW 2140 STATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Richard Lynn BIBLE, Appellant.
CourtArizona Supreme Court

FELDMAN, Chief Justice.

Defendant Richard Lynn Bible was convicted of first degree murder, kidnapping, and molestation of a child under fifteen years of age. He was sentenced to death for the murder conviction and to consecutive twenty-two year terms for the other convictions. Appeal to this court is automatic. Ariz.R.Crim.P. 26.15, 31.2(b). We have jurisdiction pursuant to Ariz. Const. art. VI, § 5(3), Ariz.R.Crim.P. 31, and A.R.S. § 13-4031.


Because the guilty verdicts are primarily based on circumstantial evidence, 1 we set forth the facts in some detail. In late May 1987, Defendant was released from prison after serving a sentence imposed in 1981 for kidnapping and sexual assault. At all times relevant to this case, Defendant lived in Flagstaff, Arizona.

In April 1988, the Coconino County Sheriff seized a dark green and white GMC "Jimmy" (or "Blazer-type") vehicle in Sedona, Arizona. The GMC had been used to deliver newspapers. A deputy who drove it to Flagstaff noticed rubber bands in the GMC, as well as damage to the left rear quarter panel. Another officer noticed the damaged quarter panel and saw bags of rubber bands in the vehicle. The Sheriff stored the vehicle in a fenced impound lot near Flagstaff, close to Sheep Hill. On June 5, 1988, Defendant stole the GMC from the impound lot. A police officer saw the vehicle parked in Flagstaff later that day.

The next day, June 6, 1988, shortly after 10:30 a.m., the victim, a nine year-old girl, began bicycling from where her family was staying in Flagstaff to a ranch a mile away. The victim's family passed her while driving to the ranch. When the child did not arrive at the ranch, her family began to search and found her bicycle by the side of the road. Unable to locate the girl, the victim's mother called the police at 11:21 a.m.

The Flagstaff police arrived within minutes; they called in a helicopter, set up roadblocks, and alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). The victim's mother told the police that she saw two vehicles on her way to the ranch. One was a royal blue Blazer-type vehicle. While at the ranch, she saw this same vehicle going the opposite direction at a high rate of speed. She described the driver as a dark-haired, dark-complected Caucasian male, mid-to-late twenties, possibly wearing a white T-shirt. He had looked at her intently.

Page 1164

That same day, Defendant's brother was at his home near Sheep Hill. Defendant arrived there shortly before 1:00 p.m., driving a dark green or dark silver, white-top Blazer-type vehicle with a dented left bumper--the vehicle Defendant had stolen. Defendant was wearing levi pants, a plaid shirt, a camouflage baseball-type cap, and boots. He told his brother that the Blazer belonged to a friend. After Defendant left, his brother--who thought that Defendant had been stealing from him--called the police and described the vehicle.

Shortly thereafter, a detective realized that the victim's mother's description of the Blazer-type vehicle and its driver approximated Defendant and the GMC Jimmy. At about 5:00 p.m., the GMC was discovered missing from the impound lot. At 6:20 p.m., police officers saw Defendant driving the GMC--although it had been painted a different color. The officers attempted to stop Defendant, and a high-speed chase began. When finally cornered, Defendant ran from the vehicle and hid.

Using a tracking dog, officers found Defendant hiding under a ledge, camouflaged with twigs, leaves, and branches. When arrested, Defendant was wearing a "levi-type" jacket, jeans, a plaid shirt, boots, but no underwear. Defendant also had wool gloves, and police found a baseball-type cap nearby. Police also found a large folding knife where Defendant was hiding and another knife in one of his pockets.

Within hours after his arrest, Defendant confessed to stealing the GMC the previous day and painting the vehicle two hours before his arrest, but denied being in the area of the abduction. Defendant had planned to drive the GMC to Phoenix, but a helicopter had him "pinned down." When Defendant was booked, the police confiscated his clothing. Defendant was incarcerated for the rest of the relevant time period.

In the GMC, police found a green blanket and numerous rubber bands but no rubber band bags. The steering column had been cut open and one piece of metal had fallen to the floorboard. The GMC contained a case of twenty 50-milliliter bottles of "Suntory" vodka with two bottles missing. In the console was a wrapped cigar broken in two places, a "Dutchmaster" cigar wrapper and band were in the ashtray, and Carnation "Rich" hot chocolate packets were in the vehicle. Investigators found blood smeared inside and under the GMC, although testing did not reveal whether the blood was human.

Following a large and unsuccessful police search, hikers accidentally found the victim's body near Sheep Hill nearly three weeks after her disappearance. Police secured the area and later videotaped the scene and processed evidence. The victim's naked body was hidden under a tree, mostly covered with branches, with her hands tied behind her back with a shoelace. Police found one of the victim's sneakers, without a shoelace, near the body. The victim's panties were in a tree nearby.

An unwrapped, unsmoked cigar with two distinctive breaks in the middle was on the ground near the body. The cigars near the body and in the GMC looked very similar, had consistent breaks, and had identical seals. Microscopic analysis showed that the cigars had similar thresh cuts and tobacco mixtures. The cigars also had similar sieve test results and pH values. Although the nicotine values and ash content were slightly different, the cigars were from the same lot and were similar to, and consistent with, tobacco residue found in Defendant's shirt pockets.

An empty ten-pack box of Carnation "Rich" hot chocolate--matching the packets in the GMC--was near the body. Also nearby were two empty 50-milliliter "Suntory" vodka bottles--one approximately fifty feet from the body. Testing, which revealed no fingerprints, washed away the lot numbers on these empty bottles. In all other respects, these bottles were identical to the full bottles found in the GMC.

Rubber bands were everywhere: on a path near the body; over, on, and under the body; in the tree where the panties were hanging; near the victim's other clothing; in the brush covering the body; in a tree above the body; and under a tree where one of the victim's shoes was found.

Page 1165

Visual observation as well as testing revealed that the rubber bands in the GMC were round rather than oblong and were identical to those found near the body. A rubber band bag containing a few rubber bands was found five feet from the body.

A patch of blood-matted grass was near the body. Testing revealed that this blood was human and was phosphoglucomutase ("PGM") subtype 2k, the same subtype as the victim's blood. Luminol spraying revealed a faint blood trail leading from the blood-matted grass to the body. Testing showed blood on the top of the branches covering the body.

Near the body, police found a piece of metal that fit the GMC's steering column. In Flagstaff, at the location where the GMC was seen parked the day before the victim disappeared, police found another piece of metal from the vehicle's steering column. The three metal pieces (found inside the GMC, near the body, and where the GMC had been parked) fit together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. An investigator concluded that the three metal pieces were part of the GMC's steering column.

An autopsy revealed that portions of the body (including the head and genital area) were severely decomposed, consistent with having been on Sheep Hill for approximately three weeks. Multiple skull fractures and a broken jawbone indicated that blows to the head caused the victim's death. The blood-matted grass near the body was consistent with the blows being inflicted there. Although the body was naked with the hands tied, suggesting sexual molestation, no sperm or semen was found. The physician performing the autopsy took pubic hair and muscle samples.

Near the body were several clusters of golden brown hair approximately six to ten inches long. Although the hair found at the scene appeared to be lighter in color, it was microscopically similar to the victim's hair and could have come from her. In one of the locks of hair, an examiner found a pubic-type hair. This pubic-type hair was similar to Defendant's pubic hair samples. Long brown hair found on Defendant's jacket, shirt, and in his wallet were similar to the victim's hair and could have come from her. Investigators found hair similar to Defendant's on a sheet used to wrap the body, and hair found on the victim's T-shirt was similar to Defendant's. Hair on a blanket in the GMC was similar to the victim's, with a total of fifty-seven hairs in the GMC being similar to the victim's hair.

Some of the hair found near the body, as well as the hair on Defendant's shirt and in his wallet, was cut on one side and torn on the other. The investigator had never before seen such a cut/tear pattern but was able to duplicate the pattern by using the knives Defendant possessed when arrested as well as other sharp knives. Twenty-one of the twenty-two hairs on Defendant's jacket had similar cut/tears.

Fibers found at Sheep Hill were identical to the GMC's seat covers, and similar to fibers from Defendant's jacket lining and the green blanket in the GMC. Fibers in the lock of hair containing the...

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