Williams v. State, No. 45S00-9210-DP-770

Docket NºNo. 45S00-9210-DP-770
Citation669 N.E.2d 1372
Case DateAugust 07, 1996
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 1372

669 N.E.2d 1372
Edward Earl WILLIAMS, Appellant (Defendant Below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
No. 45S00-9210-DP-770.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Aug. 7, 1996.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 23, 1996.

Page 1375

Charles E. Stewart, Jr., Darnail Lyles, Crown Point, for appellant.

Pamela Carter, Attorney General, Arthur Thaddeus Perry, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for appellee.

ON DIRECT APPEAL

SULLIVAN, Justice.

We review and affirm the murder convictions and death sentence of defendant Edward Earl Williams.

Background

In the early morning hours of June 19, 1992, defendant, armed with a handgun, Jemelle Joshua, armed with a shotgun, and three others set out to steal audio and video equipment from the basement of school teacher Michael Richardson. Defendant and Joshua were admitted to Richardson's home and their three accomplices followed them in. Besides Richardson, they encountered a number of children and adults, including

Page 1376

Richardson's sister, Debra Rice, and Robert Hollins. While defendant held his gun to Richardson's head and Joshua held Rice, their accomplices headed for the basement. Hollins intercepted them and began to wrestle with one of them in the kitchen. Defendant responded by shooting Hollins in the back.

The electronic equipment proved too difficult to remove and the defendant ordered the occupants of the house to lie down. Rice attempted to escape and Joshua shot her in the chest. As the invaders left the home, defendant shot each of Hollins, Rice and Richardson once in the head despite Richardson's plea, "Please don't kill me." A few hours later, defendant would tell his sister that he shot the victims so there wouldn't be any witnesses.

Defendant was charged with the murder 1 and felony murder 2 of each of Robert Hollins, Debra Rice and Michael Richardson. The state also sought the death penalty, alleging as aggravating circumstances that the defendant intentionally killed each of the three victims while committing or attempting to commit robbery 3 and murdered two or more persons by knowingly or intentionally killing the three victims. 4

The trial commenced on January 25, 1993. On January 29, the jury found the defendant guilty on all six counts of murder. On January 30, the trial court commenced the penalty phase of the defendant's trial. After extensive deliberation, the jury indicated that they were unable to reach a unanimous recommendation as to whether the trial court should impose the death sentence and was discharged without making a recommendation.

Following completion of the pre-sentence investigation, the trial court conducted a sentencing hearing on February 26. On March 2, the trial court sentenced the defendant to death.

Issues on Appeal

In addition to issues specifically challenging the imposition of a sentence of death, to be discussed under "Death Sentence Review" below, defendant raises four issues on appeal.

1. Trial Court Denial of Peremptory Challenges.

Defendant contends that it was reversible error for the trial court to deny defendant the exercise of peremptory challenges to four prospective jurors.

During voir dire, the trial court imposed upon both parties a requirement that, in order to exercise a peremptory challenge, the party attempting the challenge must give to the court a race, ethnic, religious, sex-neutral reason for the challenge. Thus, when defendant attempted to exercise peremptory challenges to strike certain members of the venire, the trial court demanded a race-neutral explanation even though the prosecution did not object to the defense's attempt to use these peremptory challenges. In the case of several prospective jurors, the trial court found defense counsel's explanation inadequate and refused to excuse them. We will return to the details of this procedure after reviewing the applicable legal principles and precedents.

a. Applicable Legal Principles.

When the trial court sua sponte required the defendant to present a race-neutral explanation for each peremptory strike, we perceive three separate legal principles being implicated--Batson principles, peremptory challenge principles, and trial management principles. In this context, these three sets of principles stand in uneasy balance with each other.

In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 96, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 1722-23, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), the United States Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause precluded the state from using peremptory challenges to exclude prospective

Page 1377

African-American jurors because of their race in a criminal case with an African-American defendant. The Supreme Court subsequently forbade the use of peremptory challenges (i) by prosecutors to strike prospective African-African jurors because of their race in a criminal case where the defendant was white, Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 111 S.Ct. 1364, 113 L.Ed.2d 411 (1991); (ii) by either party to strike prospective jurors because of their race in civil cases, Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete, Co., 500 U.S. 614, 111 S.Ct. 2077, 114 L.Ed.2d 660 (1991); (iii) by a white defendant to strike prospective African-American jurors because of their race in a criminal case, Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 112 S.Ct. 2348, 120 L.Ed.2d 33 (1992) 5; and (iv) by the state to strike prospective male jurors because of their gender in a paternity and child support case against a putative father, J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B., 511 U.S. 127, 114 S.Ct. 1419, 128 L.Ed.2d 89 (1994).

While Batson itself appeared to be based upon the right of the criminal defendant to a trial free of racial taint, the doctrine has evolved into one designed to protect the right of the prospective juror to serve. In McCollum, the Supreme Court said that while citizens have no right to sit on a particular petit jury, they do have a right not to be excluded from jury service on the basis of race. 505 U.S. at 47-49, 112 S.Ct. at 2353 (citing Powers, 499 U.S. at 409-10, 111 S.Ct. at 1370). The McCollum court also noted that irrespective of who exercises a discriminatory challenge, "the harm is the same--in all cases, the juror is subjected to open and public racial discrimination." 505 U.S. at 49, 112 S.Ct. at 2353. Whether a discriminatory challenge is invoked by the defense or the state, if a trial court allows prospective jurors to be precluded from jury service on the basis of race, "it is a willing participant in a scheme that could only undermine the very foundation our system of justice--our citizens' confidence in it." Id. at 49-50, 112 S.Ct. at 2354. Further, the J.E.B. court recognized "that whether the trial is criminal or civil, potential jurors, as well as litigants, have an equal protection right to jury selection procedures that are free from state-sponsored group stereotypes rooted in, and reflective of, historical prejudice." 511 U.S. at ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1421 (citing Powers, 499 U.S. at 400, 111 S.Ct. at 1364; Edmonson, 500 U.S. at 614, 111 S.Ct. at 2079; McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 112 S.Ct. 2348, 120 L.Ed.2d 33).

We distill from these comments by the United States Supreme Court that Batson and its progeny protect the constitutional right to equal protection under the law of both defendants and prospective jurors, i.e., the right that a prospective juror will not be excluded from service on the basis of race or gender.

But even while these Batson principles highlight certain rights of jurors, peremptory challenges remain. Our rules require that peremptory challenges be available to each side. Ind.Trial Rule 47(C). Our legislature has expressed its desire that peremptory challenges be available in all criminal jury trials. Ind.Code § 35-37-1-3 (1988). In J.E.B., Justice O'Connor expressed her view that the "peremptory challenge remains an important litigator's tool." 511 U.S. at ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1431 (O'Connor, J., concurring). And in Batson itself, in response to Justice Marshall's suggestion that peremptory challenges should be abolished entirely, the majority said:

[T]his Court may assume that trial judges, in supervising voir dire in light of our decision today, will be alert to identify a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination. Nor do we think that this historic trial practice which long has served the selection of an impartial jury, should be abolished because of an apprehension that prosecutors and trial judges will not perform conscientiously their respective duties under the Constitution.

Batson, 476 U.S. at 99 n. 22, 106 S.Ct. at 1724 n. 22 (emphasis added).

Page 1378

The third set of principles affecting this question relates to the authority enjoyed by Indiana trial courts in managing criminal trials. We have frequently commented on the trial court's duty to "manage and control" the proceedings which are conducted before it and the "wide latitude of discretion" which the trial court has in carrying out its duties. See, e.g., Garcia v. State, 517 N.E.2d 402, 405 (Ind.1988); Cornett v. State, 450 N.E.2d 498, 505 (Ind.1983); Pitman v. State, 436 N.E.2d 74, 78 (Ind.1982); Lawson v. State, 274 Ind. 419, 431, 412 N.E.2d 759, 768 (1980). In addition to this general responsibility, T.R. 47(D) gives the court broad authority to examine prospective jurors. See also Stamps v. State, 515 N.E.2d 507, 509 (Ind.1987) (citing Hall v. State, 497 N.E.2d 916 (Ind.1986)). But although a trial judge may intervene in the fact-finding process and question witnesses in order to promote clarity or dispel obscurity, the trial judge may not assume an adversarial role in the proceedings. Isaac v. State, 605 N.E.2d 144, 148 (Ind.1992); Fox v. State, 497 N.E.2d 221, 227 (Ind.1986). See also Brannum v. State, 267 Ind. 51, 57, 366 N.E.2d 1180, 1182 (1977). In fact, to the extent that intervention by the trial court in the proceedings would constitute exercising the prosecutorial function, it would violate the separation of powers or functions article of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
41 practice notes
  • People v. Rivera, No. 98609.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • May 18, 2006
    ...State v. Evans, 100 Wash.App. 757, 998 P.2d 373 (2000); Commonwealth v. Carson, 559 Pa. 460, 741 A.2d 686 (1999); Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372 (Ind.1996); Brogden v. State, 102 Md.App. 423, 649 A.2d 1196 (1994); Lemley v. State, 599 So.2d 64 (Ala.Crim. App.1992). However, as the court......
  • Aki-Khuam v. Davis, No. 3:00 cv 386 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • March 25, 2002
    ...§ 2244(b). Immediate reference is made to the two decisions in this case by the Supreme Court of Indiana, namely Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372 (Ind. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1232, 117 S.Ct. 1828, 137 L.Ed.2d 1034, (1997) and Williams v. State, 724 N.E.2d 1070 (Ind. 2000), cert. de......
  • Stephenson v. State, No. 87S00-9605-DP-398.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • January 25, 2001
    ...a sufficiency of the evidence claim, we neither reweigh the evidence nor assess the credibility of witnesses. See Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372, 1387 (Ind.1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1232, 117 S.Ct. 1828, 137 L.Ed.2d 1034 (1997). We only consider the evidence most favorable to the ju......
  • Oman v. State, No. 46S03-9909-CR-00495.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • September 26, 2000
    ...to apply 737 N.E.2d 1138 our conclusion to this case. Rather, in the exercise of our supervisory responsibility, see Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372, 1381-82 (Ind.1996), reh'g denied, we enunciate the following new rule of criminal procedure that will apply to investigative subpoenas iss......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
41 cases
  • People v. Rivera, No. 98609.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • May 18, 2006
    ...State v. Evans, 100 Wash.App. 757, 998 P.2d 373 (2000); Commonwealth v. Carson, 559 Pa. 460, 741 A.2d 686 (1999); Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372 (Ind.1996); Brogden v. State, 102 Md.App. 423, 649 A.2d 1196 (1994); Lemley v. State, 599 So.2d 64 (Ala.Crim. App.1992). However, as the court......
  • Aki-Khuam v. Davis, No. 3:00 cv 386 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • March 25, 2002
    ...§ 2244(b). Immediate reference is made to the two decisions in this case by the Supreme Court of Indiana, namely Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372 (Ind. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1232, 117 S.Ct. 1828, 137 L.Ed.2d 1034, (1997) and Williams v. State, 724 N.E.2d 1070 (Ind. 2000), cert. de......
  • Stephenson v. State, No. 87S00-9605-DP-398.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • January 25, 2001
    ...a sufficiency of the evidence claim, we neither reweigh the evidence nor assess the credibility of witnesses. See Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372, 1387 (Ind.1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1232, 117 S.Ct. 1828, 137 L.Ed.2d 1034 (1997). We only consider the evidence most favorable to the ju......
  • Oman v. State, No. 46S03-9909-CR-00495.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • September 26, 2000
    ...to apply 737 N.E.2d 1138 our conclusion to this case. Rather, in the exercise of our supervisory responsibility, see Williams v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1372, 1381-82 (Ind.1996), reh'g denied, we enunciate the following new rule of criminal procedure that will apply to investigative subpoenas iss......
  • 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