White v. State, CR–09–0662.

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation179 So.3d 170
Docket NumberCR–09–0662.
Parties Justin WHITE v. STATE of Alabama.
Decision Date30 August 2013

179 So.3d 170

Justin WHITE
STATE of Alabama.


Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.

Aug. 30, 2013.
Opinion on Return to Remand May 2, 2014.

Rehearing Denied Aug. 22, 2014.

Certiorari Denied April 17, 2015.

Alabama Supreme Court 1131374.

179 So.3d 181

Bryan A. Stevenson, Brandon Buskey, and Angela Setzer, Montgomery, for appellant.

Luther Strange, atty. gen., and Jess R. Nix, deputy atty. gen., and Beth Jackson Hughes, asst. atty. gen., for appellee.

WINDOM, Presiding Judge.

Justin White appeals his two convictions for capital murder and his sentences of death. White was convicted of murder made capital for intentionally taking the life of Jasmine Parker during the course of a rape, see § 13A–5–40(a)(3), Ala.Code 1975, and during the course of a burglary, see § 13A–5–40(a)(4), Ala.Code 1975. The jury, by a vote of 9–3, recommended that White be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The circuit court rejected the jury's recommendation and sentenced White to death.

Facts and Procedural History

On the morning of July 11, 2006, Parker went to work with her mother, Vanessa Parker, at Sharp Cleaners in Vestavia. Parker was not employed at the cleaners; however, she helped Vanessa on occasion. Around 3:00 p.m., Sylvia Williams, Vanessa's coworker, drove Parker home. After Parker got home, she called Vanessa and asked if she could go to a Captain D's restaurant with Greg Jelks. Vanessa gave Parker permission to go.

Vanessa left work around 6:00 p.m. and went to a funeral home because a friend had passed away. After leaving the funeral home, Vanessa drove to her apartment. She arrived at the apartment between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. As she entered the apartment, she called out to Parker but received no response. At that point, Vanessa noticed that the apartment was in disarray. The cushions on the couch were misplaced, the telephone had been knocked from its base, and a coffee table had been knocked over.

Vanessa then began to walk through the apartment and found Parker's body in a small hall area. Parker was nude from the waist down and her shirt was pulled up, exposing her breasts. Parker's blue jeans had been tied in a knot around her neck and used to strangle her to death. Upon finding Parker's body, Vanessa telephoned emergency 911.

In response to Vanessa's call to 911, law-enforcement officers were dispatched to the apartment. Steve Owens, an officer with the forensic unit of the Birmingham police department, was called to the scene

179 So.3d 182

to collect evidence and diagram the scene.1 While at the scene, Owens took a number of photographs and collected, among other things: 1) a plastic fingernail that had been found next to Parker's body; 2) a cigar tip that had been found on a table; and 3) a cigarette butt. Parker's cellular telephone was never found.

Dr. Gregory G. Davis, with the Jefferson County Coroner's Office, performed an autopsy on Parker. According to Dr. Davis, when he began the examination, Parker's blue jeans were tied around her neck so tightly he could not get his finger between the blue jeans and her neck. Dr. Davis explained that Parker had abrasions on her neck from the blue jeans. She also had a nonlethal, five-inch cut on her neck. Dr. Davis testified that Parker had petechiae —ruptured blood vessels due to pressure—under her eyelids. According to Dr. Davis, "petechiae [are] something that you ... expect to see in someone who has been strangled." (R. 313.) Dr. Davis concluded Parker had died as a result of asphyxia due to strangulation.

During the autopsy, Dr. Davis swabbed Parker's mouth, vagina, and anus to look for signs of sexual assault. He also swabbed a stain on her leg. Initially, Dr. Davis did not detect any semen on the swabs. However, after examining the swabs a second time, Dr. Davis detected semen on the swab from Parker's vagina and on the swab from her leg.

The investigation into Parker's murder languished until Detective Christopher Anderson, the lead detective, realized in August 2008 that none of the evidence collected from the crime scene or from Parker's body had been sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (hereinafter "DFS") for testing. The evidence collected from the crime scene and from Parker's body was then sent to DFS. Nathan Rhea, a forensic scientist at DFS, tested numerous items related to Parker's murder. According to Rhea, he obtained a DNA profile for saliva located on the cigar tip collected from the apartment and from the semen collected from Parker's leg and vagina. Rhea then entered those profiles into a State database and determined that the profiles matched White's profile.

After the State presented evidence establishing that the DNA collected from Parker's body and the cigar tip matched White's profile, it informed the court that it was going to present evidence pursuant to Rule 404(b), Ala. R. Evid., establishing that White also had raped and murdered Sierra Black. White objected on several occasions to the introduction of evidence relating to his guilt in Black's rape/murder. White argued that the two rape/murders were not so similar as to constitute signature crimes. He also argued that the introduction of evidence relating to the Black murder was unduly prejudicial. The circuit court overruled White's objection but agreed, on White's request, to give a limiting instruction.

After giving the jury a limiting instruction relating to the 404(b) evidence, the State presented evidence establishing that White's DNA was in the State database because he had been convicted of capital murder for raping and killing Black. The State also presented considerable evidence establishing that White had raped and murdered Black in a manner similar to the rape and murder of Parker. The State presented evidence establishing that White murdered Black, who like Parker was a young African–American woman, by strangling

179 So.3d 183

her to death with a piece of her clothing while raping her. The State established that Black and Parker had similar body types and that both women were strangled with soft ligatures (their clothes), a manner of strangulation that is extremely rare. The State presented evidence indicating that items belonging to both women were kept by the murderer. Further, the State established that White had murdered Black slightly under four months after Parker was murdered.

To establish that White raped and murdered Black, the State presented White's confession. The State also presented testimony from the following witnesses who were involved in the investigation into Black's rape/murder: 1) the evidence technician who collected evidence relating to Black's murder; 2) the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Black's body; 3) the scientist with DFS who linked forensic evidence collected from Black's body to White; and 4) the detective who interviewed White regarding the Black rape/murder. The State presented extensive evidence regarding the details of Black's injuries. It also admitted numerous photographs of Black's body and the crime scene.

During its final jury instructions in the guilt phase, the circuit court again instructed the jury regarding its consideration of evidence of the Black rape/murder. Specifically, the circuit court instructed the jury that it could consider White's involvement in the Black rape/murder as evidence only of his identity as the perpetrator in the Parker rape/murder. After being instructed by the circuit court, the jury found White guilty of both counts of capital murder charged in the indictment.

Standard of Review

Because White has been sentenced to death, according to Rule 45A, Ala. R.App. P., this Court must search the record for "plain error." Rule 45A states:

"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."

(Emphasis added.)

In Ex parte Brown, 11 So.3d 933 (Ala.2008), the Alabama Supreme Court explained:

" ‘ "To rise to the level of plain error, the claimed error must not only seriously affect a defendant's ‘substantial rights,’ but it must also have an unfair prejudicial impact on the jury's deliberations.' " ' Ex parte Bryant, 951 So.2d 724, 727 (Ala.2002) (quoting Hyde v. State, 778 So.2d 199, 209 (Ala.Crim.App.1998) ). In United States v. Young, 470 U.S. 1, 15, 105 S.Ct. 1038, 84 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985), the United States Supreme Court, construing the federal plain-error rule, stated:

" ‘The Rule authorizes the Courts of Appeals to correct only "particularly egregious errors," United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 163 (1982), those errors that "seriously affect the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings," United States v. Atkinson, 297 U.S. [157], at 160 [ (1936) ]. In other words, the plain-error exception to the contemporaneous-objection rule is to be "used sparingly, solely in those circumstances in

To continue reading

Request your trial
28 cases
  • Petersen v. State, CR-16-0652
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • January 11, 2019
    ...to dismiss all or most black [or female] jurors. See Slappy, 503 So. 2d at 354, Turner, supra.'" Id. at 622-23." White v. State, 179 So. 3d 170, 198-99 (Ala. Crim. App. 2013).Additionally, this Court has previously recognized:" ‘While disparate treatment is strong evidence of discriminatory......
  • Lindsay v. State, CR-15-1061
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 8, 2019
    ...2015) ; Bohannon v. State, 222 So.3d 457 (Ala. Crim. App. 2015) ; Luong v. State, 199 So.3d 173 (Ala. Crim. App. 2015) ; White v. State, 179 So.3d 170 (Ala. Crim. App. 2013) ; Lockhart v. State, 163 So.3d 1088 (Ala. Crim. App. 2013) ; McMillan v. State, 139 So. 2d 184 (Ala. Crim. App. 2010)......
  • Lewis v. State, CR-14-1523
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 29, 2020
    ...See Ex parte Bohannon, 222 So. 3d 525 (Ala. 2016); Ex partePage 97 Waldrop, 859 So. 2d 1181 (Ala. 2002)."). See also White v. State, 179 So. 3d 170, 241 (Ala. Crim. App. 2013); Mitchell v. State, 84 So. 3d 968, 993 (Ala. Crim. App. 2010); Bryant v. State, 951 So. 2d 732, 750 (Ala. Crim. App......
  • Townes v. State, CR–10–1892.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • December 18, 2015
    ...to remand, 500 So.2d 1188 (Ala.Crim.App.), aff'd, 500 So.2d 1064 (Ala.1986) ))." Riley, 166 So.3d at 727–28. See also White v. State, 179 So.3d 170 (Ala.Crim.App.2013). In the instant case, the circuit court found Townes's age at the time of the offense to be a mitigating circumstance. The ......
  • 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