Williams v. State

Decision Date11 December 1997
Docket NumberNo. 49S00-9606-CR-450,49S00-9606-CR-450
Citation690 N.E.2d 162
PartiesDerrick WILLIAMS, Appellant (Defendant Below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Lesa Lux Johnson, Indianapolis, for Appellant.

Jeffrey A. Modisett, Attorney General, Andrew L. Hedges, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee.

BOEHM, Justice.

On this direct appeal from convictions for conspiracy to commit murder, murder, and attempted murder, Derrick Williams raises five issues. He contends that:

(1) courtroom security procedures violated his Indiana and United States constitutional right to a public trial;

(2) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions;

(3) the trial court failed to articulate reasons for enhancing the sentence or for imposing consecutive sentences, and that the consecutive sentences were manifestly unreasonable;

(4) it was reversible error to admit certain evidence that should have been excluded under Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b); and

(5) it was error to deny his motion for a change of venue. 1

We affirm the convictions for conspiracy to commit murder and for murder. Because Indiana law prohibits conviction of both conspiracy and attempt to murder the same person, we reverse the conviction for attempted murder and remand for new sentencing.

Factual Background

In October 1993 five men fired at least sixty-five rounds of ammunition from assault rifles at the door and walls of an apartment in a complex in Indianapolis. A sixteen year old girl passing by the apartment was killed by a bullet to the head and inside a seven year old boy was permanently injured. The five shooters--Andre Gaston, Odell Marbley, Joseph Morrow, Darren Ridley, and Derrick Williams--were members of the "Ghetto Boys," a group organized to sell crack cocaine. 2 According to trial testimony by Gaston and two other Ghetto Boy members, Melvin Cornelious and Eugene Childs, the shooting was intended as retaliation against Stacey Reed. The day before the shooting Reed had broken into a Ghetto Boy member's house and stolen from the group's stash of cocaine. This was Reed's second such theft in a matter of days. Gaston testified that he received a call the next day from Williams to invite him to a meeting of the group at Ridley's mother's house. When Gaston arrived--with Ridley, Marbley, and Morrow already present--Williams told him of their intent to "get" Reed later that day. Williams asked Gaston to get his gun, and Gaston and Morrow temporarily left the group.

Earlier that day, Morrow had purchased three MAK-90 assault rifles (AK-47 clones), ten 30-round ammunition clips, and 500 rounds of ammunition. The group reassembled, this time at Ridley's father's house. The five were met there by Cornelious and Childs, who testified that when they arrived at the house, there was an assortment of assault rifles, other guns, and ammunition on the porch. Both testified that Ridley expressed the group's intention to kill Reed. In the meantime, they were joined by two others, Eddie Dean Gregory and "Old Man" Prewitt, 3 who arrived in a pickup truck and were informed of the plan. Williams asked Gregory to pick up some more ammunition as well as a battery for a sight--a rifle attachment emitting a narrow beam of light to zero in on a target. Gregory and Prewitt left on this errand and soon returned with the goods. The group then sat on the porch with the loaded weapons and waited.

At dark the group, now numbering nine, drove in three vehicles--two rental cars and the pickup truck--to the apartment complex where they believed they would find Reed. The two rental cars and their occupants remained at the perimeter of the complex while the pickup--with Prewitt driving and Gregory in the cab--drove inside. Gregory got out, went to the apartment where Reed was staying, and spoke with him. Gregory and Prewitt then rejoined the others and Gregory reported that Reed was in the apartment as expected. At this point, the two cars drove to another nearby location and met the pickup. The five shooters, with their loaded weapons, boarded the back of the pickup, and rode to the apartment. Cornelious and Childs--the drivers of the two cars--stayed behind. Gregory and Prewitt remained in the cab of the truck as the five shooters jumped out, stood shoulder-to-shoulder and opened fire on the apartment from a distance of about sixty yards. The shooting lasted between sixty and ninety seconds. They then reboarded the pickup, drove back to where they left the two cars, and fled the scene.

The trial took place in early 1996. The evidence included the testimony of Cornelious Childs, and Gaston, all of whom had reached plea agreements with the State. An eyewitness also identified Ridley as one of the shooters. In addition, the State introduced testimony and documentation from gun dealers to prove Morrow's weapons purchases on the day of the crime and to prove the purchase by a gang member in 1991 of a Terry Carbine, known to have been used in the shooting. The purchaser testified that he gave the Terry Carbine to Williams. The State offered this evidence, as well as guns seized from Marbley, Morrow's sister, and another Ghetto Boy member, to show that the defendants possessed weapons of the type used in the shooting, even if the precise weapons could not be identified. Further, a ballistics expert testified that the barrel of a Terry Carbine 4 among the items seized from Morrow's sister fired at least one of the many bullets in the shooting.

Williams and his co-defendants were each charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, and attempted murder. The trial court sentenced each of them to consecutive sentences of fifty, sixty, and fifty years respectively. Williams is the sole appellant in this case. 5 We affirm Williams' convictions for conspiracy to commit murder and for murder, but, as explained below, reverse the conviction for attempted murder.

I. Right to a Public Trial

During the trial members of the public who sought access to the courtroom were required to pass through a metal detector and "wand." In addition, spectators who were unknown to the court were required to present identification to the officer at the door and sign in. Williams contends that taken together, these security measures were "tantamount to closing the doors" of the courtroom and therefore violated his right to a public trial as guaranteed by § 13 of the Indiana Constitution and by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. All defendants raised objections to the use of the identification procedures as a violation of their constitutional right to a public trial. On appeal, Williams challenges the cumulative effect of all of the security precautions. The objection at trial, however, was only to the identification procedures. None of the defendants specifically objected to the use of a metal detector or wand. Indeed, the basis of objection for Williams' counsel was that with the metal detector and wand in place, security was sufficient and nothing else was needed. Because there was no objection at trial to the metal detector and wand, to the extent they present any issue, it is waived. 6

Williams also asserts, without citing authority or developing his argument, that the security measures were a "display" designed to convey to the jury that the defendants were dangerous and so deprived them of a fair trial by impartial jury. As discussed in note 8, infra, Williams makes no showing of prejudice. Nor does he develop any cogent argument as to why the conclusion he urges is a logical inference for the jury to draw. In sum, the claim on appeal breaks down to whether the identification procedures violated Williams' right to a public trial.

A. The Source of the Right

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury...." U.S. CONST. amend. VI. The right to a jury trial was incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of due process in Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968) and the right to a speedy trial was incorporated by Klopfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213, 87 S.Ct. 988, 18 L.Ed.2d 1 (1967). No case similarly explicitly incorporates the public trial right. Nonetheless, in Duncan, the Court listed the public trial right as a right that had already been incorporated, citing In re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257, 68 S.Ct. 499, 92 L.Ed. 682 (1948). Oliver held that a public trial was a component of Fourteenth Amendment Due Process as such but did not explicitly decide or turn on a Sixth Amendment claim. Similarly, in Waller v Georgia, 467 U.S. 39, 39, 47, 104 S.Ct. 2210, 2212, 2216, 81 L.Ed.2d 31 (1984) the Court referred to the "Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to a public trial" and held that the Sixth Amendment public trial right applied to a state's motion to suppress hearing. We conclude that Waller established that the public trial right of the Sixth Amendment applies to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. To the extent that this Court in Marshall v. State, 254 Ind. 156, 158, 258 N.E.2d 628, 629 (1970) indicated that state courts are not bound by federal Sixth Amendment jurisprudence on the public trial right, Marshall is no longer valid.

In addition to the Sixth Amendment, Section 13 of the Indiana Constitution provides that "In all prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to a public trial...." IND. CONST. art. I, § 13. In advancing his argument, Williams makes no contention based on the language or history of the State Constitution. To the extent he cites Indiana authority, he relies on no cases that effectively treat the public trial guarantee in § 13 as distinct from its federal counterpart. Rather, the Indiana cases he cites discuss both rights together as yielding the same result. See, e.g., Hackett v. State, 266 Ind. 103, 360 N.E.2d...

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