Waldrop v. State

Decision Date01 December 2000
Docket NumberCR-98-2316
PartiesBobby Wayne Waldrop v. StateALABAMA COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Appeal from Randolph Circuit Court (CC-1998-162)

On Return to Remand

FRY, Judge.

On June 30, 2000, we remanded this cause to the trial court for that court to reweigh the mitigating and aggravating circumstances and then to issue a new sentencing order. Waldrop v. State, [Ms. CR-98-2316, June 30, 2000] ___ So. 2d ___ (Ala.Crim.App. 2000). The trial court has complied with our order, issued a new sentencing order, and sentenced Waldrop to death. When we issued our June 30 opinion, we deferred addressing the other issues Waldrop raised on appeal, pending the trial court's compliance with our directions on remand. We will now address those issues.1

The appellant, Bobby Wayne Waldrop, was convicted of three counts of capital murder: two counts of murder committed during a robbery in the first degree, see § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Ala. Code 1975; and one count of murder where two or more persons are murdered, see § 13A-5-40(a)(10), Ala. Code 1975. The jury, by a vote of 10-2, recommended that Waldrop be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The trial court imposed the death sentence.

Waldrop was convicted of murdering his grandparents, Irene and Sherrell Prestridge. The facts surrounding the murders are detailed in our June 30, 2000, opinion.

Waldrop raises several issues, many of which were not presented to the trial court. Waldrop, however, was sentenced to death; therefore, his failure to raise these claims at trial does not prevent our review of them. It does weigh against Waldrop as to any claim of prejudice he now makes on appeal. See Burgess v. State, 723 So. 2d 742 (Ala.Crim.App. 1997); Kuenzel v. State, 577 So. 2d 474 (Ala.Crim.App. 1990), aff'd, 577 So. 2d 531 (Ala.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 886, 112 S.Ct. 242, 116 L.Ed.2d 197 (1991). Additionally, "'the plain error exception to the contemporaneous-objection rule is to be "used sparingly, solely in those circumstances in which a miscarriage of justice would otherwise result."'" Burton v. State, 651 So. 2d 641, 645 (Ala.Crim.App. 1993), aff'd, 651 So. 2d 659 (Ala. 1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1115, 115 S.Ct. 1973, 131 L.Ed.2d 862 (1995), quoting United States v. Young, 470 U.S. 1, 15, 105 S.Ct. 1038, 1046, 84 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985) (quoting, in turn, United States v. Brady, 456 U.S. 152, 163, 102 S.Ct. 1584, 1592, 71 L.Ed.2d 816 (1982)).

"In all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed, the Court of Criminal Appeals shall notice any plain error or defect in the proceedings under review, whether or not brought to the attention of the trial court, and take appropriate appellate action by reason thereof, whenever such error has or probably has adversely affected the substantial right of the appellant."

Rule 45A, Ala.R.App.P.

Accordingly, we will now address the issues raised by Waldrop.

Guilt-phase Issues

Waldrop contends that the trial court abused its discretion by, he says, failing to conduct an investigation and to consider certain factors in denying his application for youthful-offender status. He raises this issue for the first time on appeal. Thus, we will review his contention for plain error. Rule 45A, Ala.R.App.P.

In Reese v. State, 677 So. 2d 1239 (Ala.Crim.App. 1995), this Court stated:

"In determining whether to treat a defendant as a youthful offender, the trial court has nearly absolute discretion. Morgan v. State, 363 So. 2d 1013 (Ala.Crim.App. 1978); see also, Ex parte Farrell, 591 So. 2d 444, 449-50, n. 3 (Ala. 1991). There is no set method for considering a motion requesting such treatment. Edwards v. State, 294 Ala. 358, 317 So. 2d 512 (1975). However, the Youthful Offender Act, § 15-19-1, Ala. Code, 1975, requires that the court conduct a factual investigation into the defendant's background. Ware v. State, 432 So. 2d 555 (Ala.Crim.App. 1983). Generally, the trial court considers the nature of the crime charged, any prior convictions, the defendant's age, and any other matters deemed relevant by the court. Clemmons v. State, 294 Ala. 746, 321 So. 2d 238 (1975). Moreover, the trial court need not articulate on the record its reasons for denying the defendant youthful offender status. Garrett v. State, 440 So. 2d 1151, 1152-53 (Ala.Crim.App. 1983), cert. denied (Ala. 1983). Accord, Goolsby v. State, 492 So. 2d 635 (Ala.Crim.App. 1986).

"The appellant relies on Watkins v. State, 357 So. 2d 156 (Ala.Crim.App. 1977), cert. denied, 357 So. 2d 161 (Ala. 1978), for his contention that the trial court may not deny youthful offender status after consideration of only one factor, i.e., the nature of the crime charged. However, there is no support in this record for the contention that the trial court considered only that one factor. The trial court, in fact, expressly stated that the appellant's motion for youthful offender treatment was denied `based on the investigation and other matters.' (R. Supp. #2, 3-4.)

"This court held in Miller v. State, 650 So. 2d 940 (Ala.Crim.App. 1993), rev'd on other grounds, 650 So. 2d 947 (Ala. 1994), that "`[w]here the record does not support the contention that youthful offender status was denied solely on the basis of the crime charged, this court will not reverse the trial court's decision to deny youthful offender status. Burks v. State, 600 So. 2d 374, opinion after remand, 600 So. 2d 387 (Ala.Crim.App. 1991).'"

677 So. 2d at 1240. See also Wigfall v. State, 710 So. 2d 931, 934 (Ala.Crim.App. 1997) (where trial court heard, during youthful- offender hearing, argument on the seriousness of the charge, evidence indicating the nature of the circumstances upon which the charge was based, evidence of the defendant's age, and other relevant factors concerning the defendant and his home life, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying youthful offender status); Robinson v. State, 728 So. 2d 650, 653 (Ala.Crim.App. 1997) (hearing on the motion for youthful-offender status revealed that the trial court based its decision on numerous factors in addition to the nature of the crime charged).

On January 7, 1998, a hearing was conducted addressing Waldrop's application for youthful-offender status. The record indicates that, during the hearing, the trial court read the allegations contained in the indictment and reviewed the application. The application revealed Waldrop's family history and indicated that Waldrop had previously been adjudicated guilty as a youthful offender of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, and that he had been convicted of second-degree theft of property. Additionally, the application addressed Waldrop's educational background, indicating that he had completed ninth grade and that he was able to read and write. The application further revealed that, although Waldrop had experimented with marijuana and cocaine, he had never suffered from a serious mental illness and had never been under the care of a psychiatrist. At the hearing, Waldrop indicated that the information contained in the youthful-offender application was substantially correct. Testimony during the hearing further established that Waldrop was 19 years old when the offenses occurred. In an order dated January 13, 1999, the trial court stated, "Based on the matters presented to the Court, the defendant's application for treatment as a youthful offender is hereby denied." (C. 31.)

Given that the record does not support Waldrop's contention that youthful-offender status was denied solely on the basis of the offenses charged, this Court will not reverse the trial court's decision to deny youthful-offender status. See Wigfall, 710 So. 2d at 934. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Waldrop's application for youthful offender status.


Waldrop maintains that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements he made to the police. (Issue V in Waldrop's brief to this Court at p. 75.) Specifically, he claims that he was unable to understand his Miranda2 rights and that he did not voluntarily waive those rights because, he says, at the time of the interrogation, he was under the influence of crack cocaine, he had been deprived of food and sleep, and he was emotional.

In Maples v. State, [Ms. CR-97-0548, March 26, 1999] ___ So. 2d ___ (Ala.Crim.App. 1999), this Court stated:

"`"`In reviewing the correctness of the trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, this Court makes all the reasonable inferences and credibility choices supportive of the decision of the trial court.'" Kennedy v. State, 640 So.2d 22, 26 (Ala.Cr.App. 1993), quoting Bradley v. State, 494 So.2d 750, 761 (Ala.Cr.App. 1985), aff'd, 494 So.2d 772 (Ala. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 923, 107 S.Ct. 1385, 94 L.Ed.2d 699 (1987). A trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress will not be disturbed unless it is "palpably contrary to the great weight of the evidence." Parker v. State, 587 So.2d 1072, 1088 (Ala.Cr.App. 1991).'

"Rutledge v. State, 680 So.2d 997, 1002 (Ala.Cr.App. 1996)."

___ So. 2d at ___ .

It has long been the law that a confession is prima facie involuntary and inadmissible, and that before a confession may be admitted into evidence, the burden is upon the State to establish voluntariness and a Miranda predicate. Jackson v. State, 562 So. 2d 1373, 1380 (Ala.Crim.App. 1990). A two-pronged test is used to determine whether an accused's statement is admissible. First, the trial court must determine whether the accused was informed of his Miranda rights. Second, the trial court must determine whether the accused voluntarily and knowingly waived his Miranda rights before making his statement. Holder v. State, 584 So. 2d 872, 878 (Ala.Crim.App. 1991); Carpenter v. State, 581 So. 2d 1277, 1278 (Ala.Crim.App. 1991).

This Court addressed the voluntariness of a waiver of Miranda rights in Click v. State, 695 So. 2d 209 (Ala.Crim.App. 19...

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