Walker v. Com.

Decision Date11 June 1999
Docket NumberRecord No. 990097.,Record No. 990096
Citation515 S.E.2d 565,258 Va. 54
PartiesDarick Demorris WALKER v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
CourtVirginia Supreme Court

Robert N. Johnson, Richmond, for appellant.

Pamela A. Rumpz, Assistant Attorney General (Mark L. Earley, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: All the Justices.

LACY, Justice.

Darick Demorris Walker was indicted for the capital murder of Stanley Roger Beale and Clarence Threat within a three-year period, Code § 18.2-31(8), for four counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, Code § 18.2-53.1, and for two counts of burglary, Code § 18.2-90. He was convicted of all offenses by a jury. After hearing evidence on the issue of punishment, the jury fixed the punishment for the capital offense at death based upon the vileness and future dangerousness predicates, life imprisonment on each of the burglaries, and a total of 18 years imprisonment for the firearms offenses. The trial court, after considering the sentencing report of a probation officer, sentenced Walker in accord with the jury verdicts. Walker appealed his capital murder conviction, Record No. 990096. We have certified Walker's appeal of his non-capital murder convictions from the Court of Appeals, Record No. 990097, and have consolidated the two appeals.

I. Evidence

Applying familiar principles, we recite the facts in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the party prevailing below. See Horton v. Commonwealth, 255 Va. 606, 609, 499 S.E.2d 258, 259 (1998).

A. Stanley Beale

Catherine Taylor and her children, Monique, Bianca, and Sidney, lived in the University Terrace Apartments with Stanley Beale, the children's father. On the evening of November 22, 1996, Taylor heard "a boom like noise" in the living room. Taylor left the bedroom where she had been with Sidney, an infant, and as she entered the living room, she saw a man kick in the locked front door. Taylor later identified the man as Walker. Walker was holding a gun yelling, "Where is he?" Walker continued yelling, asking Beale "what you keep coming up to my door, what you looking for me for?" Beale, who was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, answered that he did not know Walker and did not know where Walker lived. Bianca, who was 13 years old at the time, shouted at Walker that her father did not know him. Walker began shooting at Beale as Taylor ushered Bianca and Monique into the bathroom to hide in the bathtub. Walker shot Beale three times, killing him. Bianca testified that she knew Walker as "Todd" and subsequently identified Walker in a photo line-up as the person who killed her father. Tameria Patterson, a fourteen-year-old girl who was visiting a friend who lived in the University Terrace Apartments, testified that on the night of the murder, she saw a man she knew as "Todd" enter her friend's apartment and say "I shot him." When shown a photo spread, Tameria identified Walker as the person who had entered the apartment.

B. Clarence Threat

On the night of June 18, 1997, Andrea Noble and Clarence Threat were sleeping in their bedroom when they were awakened by a "pop" coming from the screen door, followed by a knock at the door. Noble went to the door and looked outside through a small window in the door, but did not see anyone. On two subsequent occasions she again heard a knock and went to the door, but did not see anyone. Sometime after the third knock, the door was "kicked open." Noble went to the living room and saw a person she knew as "Paul" standing with a gun. "Paul" pointed the gun at Noble as she backed into the bedroom. When they reached the bedroom, "Paul" hit Noble with the back of the gun and then shot Threat in the leg. In the bedroom, "Paul" and Threat exchanged words and "Paul" shot Threat again. Threat sustained a total of seven gunshot wounds. He died as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest. The shooter told Noble that if she told anyone "he would come back and kill [her] and [her] kids." At trial, Noble identified Walker as the person she knew as "Paul."

II. Constitutionality of Virginia's Death Penalty Statutes

In his first assignment of error, Walker asserts that Virginia's death penalty statutes, Code §§ 19.2-264.2 to -264.5, and 17.1-313, are unconstitutional. Specifically, he argues that the aggravating factors which the jury must consider to impose the death penalty are unconstitutionally vague, and that the failure to provide jury instructions regarding the meaning of those terms or to properly inform and instruct the jury on the consideration of mitigation evidence violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Sections 9 and 11 of Article I of the Virginia Constitution. We have previously considered and rejected these contentions, and Walker presents no basis for altering our prior decisions. See M. Smith v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 455, 476-77, 248 S.E.2d 135, 148 (1978), cert. denied, 441 U.S. 967, 99 S.Ct. 2419, 60 L.Ed.2d 1074 (1979)(rejecting contention that "vileness" and "future dangerousness" predicates for imposition of the death penalty unconstitutionally fail to guide the jury's discretion); Watkins v. Commonwealth, 229 Va. 469, 490-91, 331 S.E.2d 422, 438 (1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1099, 106 S.Ct. 1503, 89 L.Ed.2d 903 (1986)(Constitution requires only that jury be instructed to consider mitigating evidence.)

Walker also asserts that the death penalty statutes are unconstitutional because they do not require the trial court to set aside a sentence of death upon a showing of good cause, they allow the trial court to consider hearsay evidence in the post-hearing sentence report, and the review conducted by this Court is inconsistent with the requirements of the Eighth Amendment. These assertions have previously been rejected in Breard v. Commonwealth, 248 Va. 68, 76, 445 S.E.2d 670, 675, cert. denied, 513 U.S. 971, 115 S.Ct. 442, 130 L.Ed.2d 353 (1994); O'Dell v. Commonwealth, 234 Va. 672, 701-02, 364 S.E.2d 491, 507-08, cert. denied, 488 U.S. 871, 109 S.Ct. 186, 102 L.Ed.2d 154 (1988); R. Smith v. Commonwealth, 239 Va. 243, 253, 389 S.E.2d 871, 876, cert. denied, 498 U.S. 881, 111 S.Ct. 221, 112 L.Ed.2d 177 (1990), respectively, and Walker fails to advance any reason to depart from these decisions.

III. Request for a Bill of Particulars

Walker next assigns error to the trial court's denial of his request for a bill of particulars. He contends that the information he requested was necessary to ensure his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel, and that the lack of such information undermines the "greater degree of reliability" that due process requires in death penalty cases. In his request for a bill of particulars, Walker sought identification of the grounds for the capital murder charge and the evidence upon which the Commonwealth would rely to prove the charge. He further requested the Commonwealth to identify and provide a "narrowing construction" of the aggravating factors upon which it intended to rely in seeking the death penalty as well as the evidence it intended to use in support of the aggravating factors.

The Commonwealth responded to Walker's request by reciting the grounds upon which it believed Walker was guilty of capital murder. The Commonwealth further stated that, if Walker was convicted of capital murder, it would seek the death penalty based on the aggravating factors of "vileness" and "future dangerousness." The Commonwealth stated that, to prove "vileness," it would rely on the depravity of mind and aggravated battery components provided in Code § 19.2-264(C). Finally, the Commonwealth informed Walker that in proving "future dangerousness," it would rely on Walker's adult and juvenile criminal record, the circumstances of the commission of the current offenses, Walker's lack of remorse, and evidence of other crimes whether adjudicated or unadjudicated.

The information requested by Walker is virtually identical to that requested by the defendant in Strickler v. Commonwealth, 241 Va. 482, 404 S.E.2d 227, cert. denied, 502 U.S. 944, 112 S.Ct. 386, 116 L.Ed.2d 337 (1991). In Strickler, we held that where the indictment is sufficient, i.e., gives the accused "notice of the nature and character of the offense charged so he can make his defense," a bill of particulars is not required. Id. at 490, 404 S.E.2d at 233 (quoting Wilder v. Commonwealth, 217 Va. 145, 147, 225 S.E.2d 411, 413 (1976)).

Here, there is no challenge to the sufficiency of the indictment. As in Strickler, those parts of Walker's request for a bill of particulars seeking disclosure of the evidence upon which the Commonwealth intended to rely in the guilt and sentencing phases of the trial "are sweeping demands for pretrial disclosure of all the Commonwealth's evidence." 241 Va. at 490, 404 S.E.2d at 233.

However, "[t]here is no general constitutional right to discovery in a criminal case, even where a capital offense is charged." Id. at 490-91, 404 S.E.2d at 233. Walker, like the defendant in Strickler, received all the information to which he was entitled. Furthermore, whether to require the Commonwealth to file a bill of particulars is a matter that falls within the sound discretion of the trial court, Goins v. Commonwealth, 251 Va. 442, 454, 470 S.E.2d 114, 123, cert. denied, 519 U.S. 887, 117 S.Ct. 222, 136 L.Ed.2d 154 (1996), and Walker has not demonstrated an abuse of that discretion.

Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court did not err in denying Walker's request for a bill of particulars in this case.

IV. Motion for Discovery and Inspection

Walker assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion for discovery and inspection. He admits that the Commonwealth provided him with all discovery and inspection to which he was entitled under state statutes and Rules of Court, and he does not assert that the Commonwealth improperly withheld any exculpatory information. Instead,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
92 cases
  • Remington v. Com.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court
    • September 14, 2001
    ...Remington's rights under the Virginia and federal constitutions as well as [Code § 19.2-230]." See Walker v. Commonwealth, 258 Va. 54, 62-63, 515 S.E.2d 565, 569-70 (1999); Strickler, 241 Va. at 490-91,404 S.E.2d at 232-33; Quesinberry v. Commonwealth, 241 Va. 364, 371-73, 402 S.E.2d 218, 2......
  • Gray v. Com.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 8, 2007
    ...[cases] does not prevent our consideration of whether the sentence imposed in this case was disproportionate." Walker v. Commonwealth, 258 Va. 54, 73, 515 S.E.2d 565, 576 (1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1125, 120 S.Ct. 955, 145 L.Ed.2d 829 (2000). While Zirkle involved the finding of both ag......
  • Juniper v. Zook
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • August 3, 2015
    ...is not whether [the defendant] could commit criminal acts of violence in the future but whether he would "); Walker v. Commonwealth, 258 Va. 54, 70, 515 S.E.2d 565, 574 (1999) (upholding the exclusion of testimony on "the conditions of prison life, specifically life without parole in a maxi......
  • Billips v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals
    • June 6, 2006
    ...by any standard, of Billips's risk of reoffending was not essential to imposition of the penalty imposed. See Walker v. Commonwealth, 258 Va. 54, 66, 515 S.E.2d 565, 572 (1999) ("The 'finding' that exposes the defendant to the death penalty is that of future dangerousness, or alternatively,......
  • 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