State v. Williams

Decision Date08 July 1963
Docket NumberNo. 49888,49888
Citation369 S.W.2d 408
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. James (Buddy) WILLIAMS, Appellant.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Ward & Reeves, by George K. Reeves, Caruthersville, Dempster & Edwards, by Robert A. Dempster, Sikeston, for appellant.

Thomas F. Eagleton, Atty. Gen., Howard L. McFadden, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for respondent.

DALTON, Judge.

Defendant was charged and convicted of murder in the first degree and the jury fixed his punishment at death. Motion for a new trial was filed and overruled and an appeal taken to this court.

The information filed in the Circuit Court of Pemiscot County on February 5, 1962, charged defendant with the murder of one Brenda Joyce Raines on December 22, 1961, by using a dangerous and deadly weapon, to wit, a shotgun loaded with gunpower and leaden balls, to shoot and strike her and also by using it as a heavy blunt instrument to strike and beat her to death.

Apparently the defendant was without funds to employ counsel since the court appointed George K. Reeves of the Pemiscot County Bar to defend him.

The cause was thereafter removed on change of venue to the Circuit Court of Scott County, where Robert A. Dempster of the Scott County Bar was appointed by the court to assist in defendant's defense. When defendant was arraigned in the Circuit Court of Scott County, the record shows that, 'the prisoner stands mute and says nothing.' Thereafter, in view of defendant's refusal to answer with reference to a plea, the court ordered a plea of not guilty to be entered.

Prior to the removal of the cause from the Circuit Court of Pemiscot County, on the application of Attorney Reeves, the court had entered an order for the mental examination of defendant. Defendant was ordered transported to State Hospital No. 1 at Fulton, Missouri, for such examination, and it was further ordered that copies of the report of such mental examination be furnished to the Prosecuting Attorney of Pemiscot County and to counsel appointed to represent defendant. Defendant remained at the State Hospital No. 1 from March 8 to March 30, 1962, for observation and examination by Dr. E. C. Kepler, a psychiatrist employed at State Hospital No. 1 at Fulton. The defendant was 'absolutely uncooperative' while in the hospital. The report showed that, 'In view of this patient's complete and persistent uncooperative attitude it is impossible to have an adequate idea of his mental processes.' Dr. Kepler, however, testified that: 'It was our opinion that he was taking this attitude of muteness, mutism, evasiveness, and alleged amnesia as a defense mechanism, because that is the only defense mechanism that a person of his mental caliber is probably capable of using.' The witness further said: 'It is my opinion he was not insane when we examined him or when I examined him at my office, and if he was not insane then, he certainly could not have been a few months previous because he shows no signs of mental illness.'

Prior to the trial of the cause the court was fully advised by defendant's counsel that, on three different occasions while defendant was in the Pemiscot County Jail, he refused to discuss his case in any manner with appointed counsel and, after his removal to the Scott County Jail, Mr. Reeves and Mr. Dempster made four separate attempts to talk to defendant and he refused to talk to either of them, refused to answer any questions whatsoever. They made diligent efforts to advise him that it was in his best interest to cooperate with his court-appointed attorneys, but he refused to do so. Counsel also asked one Reverend J. M. Blow of the Baptist Church to see and advise the prisoner but the prisoner refused to seek spiritual guidance from either Reverend Blow or any of the members of his church. In this connection Dr. Kepler found that: 'There has been nothing in the behavior of the patient in the hospital nor at the staff meeting to indicate any bizarre mannerisms and although the patient is very definitely socially maladjusted, there is no reason to believe that he is unable to cooperate with counsel in his defense.'

Thereafter, the cause came on for trial and a jury of qualified citizens of Scott County was duly selected, after some twenty-five out of some sixty-one veniremen had disqualified on the ground that they were opposed to the imposition of the death penalty in any case.

The State's evidence tended to show that Brenda Joyce Raines was a teenage girl weighing 110 pounds, residing with her family in Holland, Pemiscot County. She was a senior in the local high school and was keeping company with one Frank Craig, a resident of Blythesville, Arkansas. Craig drove a 1961 maroon-colored Pontiac automobile that carried Arkansas license plates. On Friday night, December 22, 1961, one Archer had seen Craig's automobile between 11 and 11:10 p. m. parked on the Denton gravel road, one quarter of a mile north of the blacktop road leading west out of Holland, Missouri. The car, with its lights turned on, was parked headed north on the right-hand side of the road about 100 yards south of a particular tree. This tree was the only one on the road between the blacktop and witness Archer's home. A boy and a girl were observed in the car and Archer had seen Craig and Brenda together earlier in the evening. Archer resided one-half mile farther north on the Denton Road. As he approached Craig's car from the rear, Archer met a colored man about 100 yards south of the parked car, walking south on the left side of the road. Archer's car lights were on and he observed this colored man pull his cap off and bring it down over his face, like he was hiding his face or shading it. The cap was an orange-looking suede cap. The man wore a long light-colored coat and 'maybe a tan with tan-looking pants.' Later, after defendant's arrest on Saturday night, December 23, 1961, when the witness entered the police car in which defendant was riding, he observed defendant wearing a similar cap; however, the defendant promptly removed the cap and crammed it in between himself and the car door. The colored man that the witness observed on the road near the mentioned automobile on Friday night, December 22, 1961, was of the same size and build, and had the same complexion as defendant; however, the witness could not 'positively identify' the man as the defendant. On Sunday evening, December 24, 1961, at the exact spot where witness and his brother had seen the Craig car on Friday night, the witness observed a pool of blood beside the road, and about 25 yards further north there was a smaller pool of blood, both on the east side of the road.

On Saturday morning, December 23, 1961, about 8 to 8:30 a. m. one Shady George observed Craig's 1961 marooncolored Pontiac automobile, with Arkansas license plates, parked on a road about a mile and a half east of the Denton gravel road. The car was on the right-hand side of this road, facing east. When the witness returned about 11:30 a. m., driving west and facing this car, he saw a hole in the windshield and, upon examination, saw Craig's body in the car. Craig had been shot in the face and head. There was an old vacant house about 150 to 200 yards west of this car. The house was about fifty feet south of the road. Witness did not disturb the automobile or any part of it, but reported the matter to the sheriff's office in Caruthersville.

There is much conflict in the State's evidence as to whether the location of the car and the vacant house were east or west of the Denton Road, and whether the vacant house was north or south of the road, but these conflicts are immaterial to the issues here.

When Deputy Sheriff Faris arrived at the scene and inspected the car, he found an oval-shaped hole in the windshield and a pool of blood on the ground on the righthand side of the car. Craig's body was lying in the front seat of the car; the car doors were all closed and the windows rolled up, except that the left front window on the driver's side was one-half or three-quarters rolled down. When Faris opened the left front door of the car he observed that, 'All upon the headliner there was [sic] splatters of blood and brains.' On the right side of the car was a pair of boy's low-cut moccasins and on the left side a pair of girl's low-cut moccasins. He found some spent 'BB' shot in the car. A boy's pocketbook and a girl's pocketbook were lying on the dash of the car, along with other things and wadding from a shotgun shell. 'The front recess was full of blood and also the back righthand recess was full of blood.' In the girl's billfold was the name, Brenda Joyce Raines, who had been missing from home since the night before. Along the road halfway between the parked car and the abandoned house, the witness observed that the ground was torn up, tracked up and the roadside ditch trampled. From the road, Faris went to the vacant house and observed that there was hair, blood and mud on the screen of a window of the house. Also on the front porch there was blood and mud and an indication that an object had been dragged across the porch. A door facing the road was open and just inside was the naked body of Brenda Joyce Raines. She was lying on her back with her head to the north and her feet toward a closed door. Her clothes had been torn off and were lying on the floor. Her left arm was folded up on her breast and neck, and her left wrist was broken and distorted and her face badly mutilated. There were blood splatters to the right of the body and upon some abandoned lumber and up on the side of the wall of the room. Faris followed the tracks from the porch back to the place where the ground was trampled and torn up along the road. There were two sets of tracks, one deep-cut set leading from the area to the house and then a set of lighter tracks going back to where the ground was torn up. Between the house and the road there was a place where something had...

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