Valdez v. State, F-90-461

CourtUnited States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
Citation1995 OK CR 18,900 P.2d 363
Docket NumberNo. F-90-461,F-90-461
PartiesGerardo VALDEZ, Appellant, v. The STATE of Oklahoma, Appellee.
Decision Date15 March 1995

CHAPEL, Vice Presiding Judge.

Gerardo Valdez was tried by a jury and convicted of First Degree Malice Aforethought Murder in violation of 21 O.S.Supp.1982, § 701.7(A), in the District Court of Grady County, Case No. CRF-89-139. The jury found the existence of the following three aggravating circumstances: that Valdez posed a continuing threat to society; that the death was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel; and, that in perpetrating the homicide, Valdez created a great risk of death to more than one person. In accordance with the jury's recommendation, the Honorable James R. Winchester sentenced Valdez to death. We affirm.

The murder in question occurred in April of 1989. One evening, Valdez and the victim, Juan Barron, met through mutual friends in a bar. Barron was a homosexual who apparently showed an interest in Valdez. Testimony revealed that throughout the evening, Barron and Valdez talked and occasionally embraced. While Valdez consumed approximately ten, 3.2 beers during the course of the evening, he and other witnesses testified that he did not become drunk.

When the bar closed, Valdez took his friend, Martin Orduna, and Barron to his house. Orduna testified he was reluctant to enter because he thought Valdez and Barron were going to have sex. Orduna did, however, go inside Valdez's house with Valdez and Barron. The following is Orduna's account of what occurred there on that evening: Valdez obtained a gun shortly after the three men went into his house; Valdez told Barron he was going to kill him and began slapping Barron; Valdez showed Barron a Bible and told him that according to it, homosexuals do not deserve to live; Valdez asked Barron if he wanted Valdez to castrate or kill him; Valdez made Barron remove his clothes and then began hitting and slapping Barron; Barron eventually got angry and started fighting back; Valdez then shot Barron twice in the forehead, but Barron continued fighting; Valdez hit Barron in the side of the head with the gun; while Barron lay on the couch, Valdez retrieved a kitchen knife and slit Barron's throat; Barron shook and then died. Valdez and Orduna carried Barron, the couch and surrounding rug to Valdez's backyard and burned them. Barron's scant remains were discovered there about three months later.

Valdez's trial strategy was to admit guilt but raise an insanity defense. His testimony about the events preceding, including and following the murder was consistent with Orduna's. Valdez testified that homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible, and he wanted to help Barron understand the error of his ways. Valdez said he became angry and killed Barron when Barron refused to listen to the Bible's message.


Valdez argues in his first proposition that the Oklahoma statutory definition of competence found at 22 O.S.Supp.1991, § 1175.1, is unconstitutional because it does not reflect the United States Supreme Court's definition of competence set forth in Dusky v. United States. 1 Under the Supreme Court standard, an accused is competent to stand trial if they 1) possess a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against them, and 2) can rationally assist counsel. 2 An accused is considered competent under section 1175.1 if they can "understand the nature of the charges and proceedings brought against [them], and [can] effectively and rationally assist in [their] defense." Valdez claims Oklahoma's definition of competence does not meet the Supreme Court standard because rather than requiring that an accused be able to rationally and factually understand the proceedings, it requires merely that an accused be able to understand the nature of the proceedings.

We recently rejected this attack on the constitutionality of section 1175.1 in Lambert v. State, 3 concluding that there is little or no difference between our statutory terms and those used in Dusky. Further, the Supreme Court does not appear to require that state legislatures use the exact "factual and rational" terminology set forth in Dusky. This is evidenced by the fact that the Supreme Court itself has since used terms other than these to define competence. For example, in Drope v. Missouri, 4 the Court found that to be competent under the Due Process Clause, a defendant must have "the capacity to understand the nature and object of the proceedings against him, to consult with counsel, and to assist in preparing his defense." 5

Valdez next argues that the trial court's determination that he was competent violated due process. He begins his argument by claiming that the trial court and competency evaluator Dr. John Quinn failed to adequately consider whether he had a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings, and instead focused simply on whether he understood the nature of the proceedings. Valdez concludes his argument with an overall attack upon the sufficiency of the trial court's final competency determination, citing an affidavit from Roger Enfield, Ph.D., which states that Dr. Quinn failed to sufficiently analyze Valdez's competence. In his affidavit, Dr. Enfield states that Dr. Quinn's analysis did not meet Standard 7-3.7 of the ABA Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards (1989). Valdez failed to object to Dr. Quinn's competency evaluation or to the trial court's competency determination. Accordingly, this review is for plain error only. 6

We have determined that the section 1175.1 definition of competence, which requires that an accused understand the nature of the proceedings, meets Supreme Court standards. Accordingly, both Dr. Quinn during his evaluation and the judge during the subsequent post-examination competency hearing applied the constitutionally appropriate definition of competence in reaching their respective conclusions that Valdez was fit to stand trial. Dr. Quinn's written evaluation also met the requirements set forth in 22 O.S.1981, § 1175.3, and was thus sufficient. While the evaluation was largely conclusory, section 1175.3 does not require that such a report provide the sort of details set forth in ABA Standard 7-3.7. 7

Further, the trial court's finding of competence did not constitute an abuse of discretion. 8 An accused at the post-examination competency hearing is presumed competent and thus bears the burden of proving incompetence by clear and convincing evidence. 9 Because the question whether an accused is competent is one of fact, the standard of appellate review is whether the record reveals valid evidence which tended to support the trier of fact's determination. 10 Dr. Quinn testified that he spent one and one-half hours evaluating Valdez; that Valdez was competent to participate and assist in his defense; and that Valdez understood the nature and potentially severe consequences of the charge against him. In his written evaluation, Dr. Quinn found that Valdez was coherent and not mentally ill according to the definition set forth in the Oklahoma statutes. Valdez did not offer any witnesses at the hearing and thus failed to meet his burden to prove his incompetence. This record contains sufficient evidence to support the trial judge's determination that Valdez was competent to stand trial. This proposition is denied.

Valdez claims in his eleventh proposition that the trial court erred in refusing to grant his motion for individual voir dire. He presented two grounds in support of his motion: that jurors who had been exposed to pretrial publicity about the case could give others prejudicial information; and that jurors would respond more honestly to questions concerning bias, prejudice and death penalty attitudes if they were questioned separately.

Valdez acknowledges there is no right to individual voir dire. 11 The trial court's decision to grant or deny a motion for individual voir dire is a discretionary one. 12 Valdez has not presented evidence to support a conclusion that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for individual voir dire. Therefore, this proposition is denied.


In proposition two, Valdez claims that his July 25, 1989 confession should not have been admitted against him because he gave this statement without knowingly and intelligently waiving his Miranda rights. Valdez does not dispute the fact that police properly administered the Miranda warning. He argues that his inability to sufficiently speak and understand English, his lack of prior experience with the criminal justice system, and his low intelligence rendered him incapable of validly waiving his Miranda rights. Defense counsel neither filed a motion to suppress this statement nor objected to its admission on the grounds that it was not voluntarily made. 13 This proposition will therefore be reviewed for plain error.

On the evening of July 24, 1989, several months after Barron's murder, Deputy Terry Cunningham, Investigator Dan Benson and Detective Susan Hart executed a search warrant at Valdez's residence. Deputy Cunningham gave Valdez the Miranda warning upon entering his home. Cunningham testified that Valdez conversed with him in...

To continue reading

Request your trial
72 cases
  • Cuesta-rodriguez v. State Of Okla.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • 12 Octubre 2010 give police a detailed account of the shooting and the circumstances surrounding it. See Valdez v. State, 1995 OK CR 18, ¶¶ 56-58, 900 P.2d 363, 379 (explaining that defendant who is able to give detailed, lucid account of circumstances of crime is hard pressed to argue that he was signi......
  • State v. Broberg, 22
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 1 Septiembre 1995
    ...that use of "in life" photographs is disfavored. See, e.g., Com. v. Rivers, 537 Pa. 394, 644 A.2d 710, 716 (1994); Valdez v. State, 900 P.2d 363, 381 & n. 83 (Okl.Crim.App.1995). A few courts have articulated a higher standard for admission of photographic evidence; for example, Pennsylvani......
  • Fairchild v. State, F-96-121.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • 7 Diciembre 1999 so instruct the jury. We have rejected this argument and find no reason to revisit it. Valdez v. State, 1995 OK CR 18, ¶¶ 78-80, 900 P.2d 363, 385; Bryson v. State, 1994 OK CR 32, ¶ 61, 876 P.2d 240, ¶ 89 Appellant next argues (XIV-D) the trial court misinstructed the jury on the process......
  • Duvall v. Reynolds, s. 96-6329
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • 4 Marzo 1998 or habeas review. We note that the Court of Criminal Appeals has consistently rejected this argument. See, e.g., Valdez v. State, 900 P.2d 363, 385 (Okla.Crim.App.1995); Bryson v. State, 876 P.2d 240, 262-63 (Okla.Crim.App.1994); Pickens v. State, 850 P.2d 328, 339 (Okla.Crim.App.199......
  • 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