Travis v. State

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation776 So.2d 819
PartiesWayne Holleman TRAVIS v. STATE.
Decision Date18 April 1997

776 So.2d 819

Wayne Holleman TRAVIS


Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.

April 18, 1997.

Rehearing Denied January 30, 1998.

776 So.2d 828
George K. Elbrecht and Robert C. King, Monroeville, for appellant

Bill Pryor, atty. gen., and Ward Beeson and Cecil Brendle, asst. attys. gen., for appellee.

McMILLAN, Judge.

The appellant, Wayne Holleman Travis, was charged with capital murder for intentionally causing the death of Clarene Haskew during the course of a burglary, see § 13A-5-40(a)(4), Code of Alabama 1975. The appellant was found guilty as charged and, following a sentencing hearing, the jury returned an advisory verdict recommending death by electrocution. The final sentencing hearing was held before the trial court, which accepted the jury's recommendation and sentenced the appellant to death by electrocution.

776 So.2d 829
The facts relevant to the issues raised in this appeal are set out in the trial court's order sentencing the appellant to death, and the trial judge's findings of fact, pursuant to § 13A-5-47(d), Code of Alabama 1975, state, in pertinent part, as follows
"On Thursday, December 12, 1991 the Defendant, WAYNE HOLLEMAN TRAVIS, and a codefendant, STEVEN WAYNE HALL, Jr., traveled by bus to Uriah, Alabama. They were picked up by Paula Shiver, a friend of Hall's, who took them to her house in south Monroe County near Uriah. They stayed there until Saturday, December 14, 1991. Paula Shiver then took the pair by automobile to the home of Cary and Mary Travis, the parents of Defendant TRAVIS, and dropped them off there at 6:30 p.m. Defendant TRAVIS stated to Paula Shiver that he wanted to see his parents and get his car. Defendant TRAVIS and HALL stayed there from 6:30 p.m. to approximately 7:05 p.m. and then walked away. The Travis home is one-half mile from the Clarene Haskew residence.
"Jessie Wiggins [a witness for the State] was home with her husband, and saw Defendant Travis and HALL at her house about 7:00 p.m., December 14, 1991. They asked to use the phone, dialed some numbers and left. She lived one-fourth of a mile from the Haskew home as the crow flies, one mile by road. On Sunday morning, December 15, 1991, she went to the Haskew home, saw the telephone wire cut, and the porch and kitchen doors smashed in. She called Medford Haskew, the son of Clarene Haskew.
"Nellie Shad [another witness for the State] lived approximately one-fourth of a mile from the Haskew residence. On December 14, 1991, she returned home at 10:30 p.m. and found her home had been burglarized. A .38 caliber Rossi revolver and a .410 [gauge shot] gun were taken from her home. That revolver was identified by its serial number in testimony by her ex-husband who had given it to her.
"On the morning of December 15, 1991, Conecuh County sheriff deputies and other investigators found the body of Clarene Haskew in her home. Mrs. Haskew was a sixty-nine year old widow in poor health. Her home had been burglarized. Items were thrown about in the home. The body of Mrs. Haskew was found in the kitchen. A pentagram had been spray-painted on a cabinet above her body, the words `thunder struck' spray painted in large letters on the floor beside her body. On top of her body was found a large metal hook and a set of keys. Missing from the home was silverware and an address book. Also missing was her gray 1982 Ford LTD. It was ordinarily parked outside her home. A Ford pickup parked in a shed next to the house was found with its steering column opened and wires pulled out. Two sets of keys were found in the yard.
"Dr. George Wanger, state pathologist, was called to the scene. Based upon his examination there, and a later autopsy, he determined that Mrs. Haskew had suffered two gunshot wounds to the back of the head; exit wounds were on her forehead. Two spent bullets were found near the victim's head on the floor. He also found that she had suffered a number of blunt force injuries and had been strangled by hand or with an object. Her hyoid bone was broken and there were bruises around her throat. On her right and left cheeks were pinpoint hemorrhages. These occurred during strangulation, while her heart was beating. The muscles on her neck were bruised, a yellow abrasion on her neck occurred after there was no blood flow. The other blunt force injuries included a rectangular abrasion in the mastoid area and a tear in the skin at the right ear. The victim had numerous bruises. Red bruises were on her right lower back, blue bruises were on her buttocks, and purple bruises were on her left forearm.
776 So.2d 830
"Dr. Wanger found that Mrs. Clarene Haskew died of blunt force injuries and two gunshot wounds to the head. The blunt force injuries could have been sufficient in themselves to cause death. The order of the injuries is not completely known. If the gunshot wounds were last, they would have been the cause of her death, but she could have died from the blunt force injuries if she had not been shot. The blunt force could have caused her asphyxiation after the gunshot wounds. The two gunshot wounds would have caused immediate unconsciousness and the victim probably could not have felt pain after them.
"The Defendant TRAVIS and HALL were seen early Sunday morning, December 15, 1991, at the residence of Paula Shiver in south Monroe County. They drove up in Mrs. Haskew's 1982 Ford LTD and hid it behind a camper between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. that morning. Neither appeared out of the ordinary. Hall stayed in the house with Paula Shiver and went with her later that day to get her son. Travis stayed in the car most of the day. Defendant TRAVIS told Paula Shiver that the car was his sister-in-law's car. Defendant TRAVIS came into the house about 6:00 p.m. that night. Monroe County Sheriff, Tom Tate, came later that evening. Paula Shiver called out that the sheriff was there. Both Defendant Travis and Hall went out the back door into the woods.
"Dog Wardens from Fountain prison came there with beagles. They tracked the Defendant TRAVIS and HALL about one and one-half miles through the woods to a kudzu patch. They shouted to Defendant TRAVIS and HALL to `Lay `em down, lay `em down,' [and] one of the two suspects said `Lets get it on. [T]he dog wardens shot 9 or 10 times. Defendant TRAVIS and HALL were both wounded.
"Defendant TRAVIS was searched there. Found on him were the keys to Mrs. Haskew's car, five .38 caliber bullets and his driver's license. Mrs. Haskew's car was impounded and searched. In the glove compartment of the car was the .38 caliber Rossi revolver taken from the Shad residence. In the trunk of the car was a .410 [gauge shot] gun, a box of silverware belonging to the victim and an address book belonging to the victim.
"Two forensic firearms examiners, Dale Carter and Brent Wheeler, tested the revolver and then compared test bullets fired from that gun with the two recovered bullets. One recovered bullet was found by both examiners to have been fired from the .38 Rossi revolver found in the car."



The appellant alleges several assignments of error in his first issue. Each relates to appellant's contention that the trial court committed reversible error because, he says, it abused its discretion by impermissibly limiting the questions he propounded to prospective jurors during voir dire relating to their attitudes concerning the death penalty. The appellant further argues that the trial court, sua sponte, disallowed the majority of the defense's voir dire questions, allowing only those questions that pertained to the ability of the venirepersons to "follow the [applicable] law." The appellant contends that so limiting voir dire violated his due process rights guaranteed by United States and Alabama Constitutions. U.S. CONST. Amend. XIV, and Ala. Const. Art. I, § 6 1901. The appellant argues that the court's actions deprived him of his right to a fair and impartial jury guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Art. I, § 6 of the Alabama Constitution 1901.

In support of these contentions, the appellant relies principally on Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719, 112 S.Ct. 2222, 119 L.Ed.2d 492 (1992). In Morgan, the Supreme

776 So.2d 831
Court held, in pertinent part, that during voir dire, the trial court is required, at the defendant's request, to inquire into the prospective jurors' views on capital punishment to identify unqualified jurors, and that jurors who maintain they are unalterably in favor of the death penalty in every case are unable to follow the law, and should therefore be disqualified. 504 U.S. at 729, 112 S.Ct. at 2229-30. See also, Smith v. State, 698 So.2d 189 (Ala.Cr. App.1996)

The appellant does not identify each assignment of error or state the nature of the trial court's mistake, although he does refer this Court to portions of the record in which he states such limitations of his voir dire occurred. As this is a death case, however, this Court is required by the plain error doctrine to search the record for error. Rule 45A, A.R.A.P.

"At the outset, we note that the trial court has discretion in conducting voir dire examination of the jury venire and a trial court's decision in exercising that discretion will not be overturned without a showing of abuse of that discretion. See Browning v. State, 549 So.2d 548 (Ala. Crim.App.1989)." Lane v. State, 644 So.2d 1318, 1322 (Ala.Cr.App.1994). See also, Harris v. State, 632 So.2d 503 (Ala.Cr.App. 1992), aff'd., 632 So.2d 543 (Ala.1993), aff'd., 513 U.S. 504, 115 S.Ct. 1031, 130 L.Ed.2d 1004 (1995).

In Smith v. State, 598 So.2d 189 (Ala.Cr. App.1996), this Court addressed the need in a capital case for the trial court to adequately inquire into the attitudes of prospective jurors regarding the death penalty:

"[The appellant] first contends that the trial court committed reversible error because it abused its discretion in prohibiting him from properly propounding

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