Woods v. State

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation789 So.2d 896
PartiesFrederick D. WOODS v. STATE.
Decision Date10 December 1999

789 So.2d 896

Frederick D. WOODS


Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.

December 10, 1999.

Rehearing Denied January 28, 2000.

789 So.2d 900
Bryan A. Stevenson and Cathleen I. Price, Montgomery, for appellant

789 So.2d 901
Bill Pryor, atty. gen., and Michelle Riley Stephens, asst. atty. gen., for appellee

LONG, Presiding Judge.

The appellant, Frederick D. Woods, was convicted of murder made capital because the murder was committed during the course of a robbery. See § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Code of Alabama 1975. The jury, by a vote of 10-2, recommended that Woods be sentenced to death. The trial court accepted the jury's recommendation and sentenced Woods to death by electrocution.

The State's evidence tended to show the following. On September 10, 1996, police were called to the Mountain Top Beverage Store, a convenience store near Ashville, where they discovered the body of its owner, Rush "Doc" Smith, slumped behind the counter, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Testimony indicated that between $200 and $300 was missing from the cash register and that several bottles of liquor had also been taken from the store. An autopsy revealed that Smith received a single gunshot wound to the right side of his head. Forensic testing showed that the bullet, which had fragmented upon impact, was a .38 caliber.

Louis Bernard Jones testified that he, Woods, and Richard Foreman,1 were driving around in his Ford LTD automobile and smoking crack cocaine on the evening of September 10 when Woods asked to borrow Jones's car so that he could go to a local convenience store to buy some antacid for his girlfriend. Jones testified that he always kept a loaded .38 caliber revolver under the driver's seat of his car. Woods and Foreman left, and Woods was driving. Jones further testified that when Woods and Foreman returned, approximately one hour to an hour and a half later, Woods was acting unusual and was "moping." Jones said that at some point in their conversation he asked Woods if he had shot a man with his gun and he replied that he had. Testimony established that after borrowing Jones's car, the two went to the Rainbow Food Mart in Ashville where Woods purchased two pairs of gloves. They left the store around 9:30 p.m. Police were called to the Mountain Top Beverage Store at around 11:40 p.m.

Woods confessed to murdering Smith; he handwrote a three-page confession. He wrote that he was smoking crack cocaine and that he needed cash to buy more drugs when he thought of Smith. Woods wrote that he pointed the gun at Smith, closed his eyes, and when he opened them Smith was on the floor. Woods then went around the counter and took the money out of the register.

Woods also led police to where he had disposed of the gloves he wore during the robbery-murder. Further, DNA testing done on the bloodstain found on the shirt that Woods was wearing at the time of the murder matched Smith's blood.

Standard of Review

Because Woods has been sentenced to death, this Court is required to search the record for any plain error that may have "adversely affected the substantial right of the appellant." See Rule 45A, Ala. R.App.P. "`[T]he plain-error exception to

789 So.2d 902
the contemporaneous-objection rule is to be "used sparingly, solely in those circumstances in which a miscarriage of justice would otherwise result."' United States v. Young, 470 U.S. 1, 105 S.Ct. 1038, 84 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985), quoting United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 163, n. 14, 102 S.Ct. 1584, 71 L.Ed.2d 816 (1982)." Ex parte Williams, 710 So.2d 1350, 1355 (Ala.1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 929, 118 S.Ct. 2325, 141 L.Ed.2d 699 (1998)

Pretrial Issues


Woods first argues that the trial court erred in denying his application for treatment under the Youthful Offender Act ("the Act"). Section 15-19-1, Code of Alabama 1975, states:

"(a) A person charged with a crime which was committed in his minority but was not disposed of in juvenile court and which involves moral turpitude or is subject to a sentence of commitment for one year or more shall, and, if charged with a lesser crime may be, investigated and examined by the court to determine whether he should be tried as a youthful offender; provided he consent to such examination and to trial without a jury where trial by jury would otherwise be available to him. If the defendant consents and the court so decides, no further action shall be taken on the indictment or information unless otherwise ordered by the court as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
"(b) After such investigation and examination, the court, in its discretion, may direct that the defendant be arraigned as a youthful offender, and no further action shall be taken on the indictment or information; or the court may decide that the defendant shall not be arraigned as a youthful offender, whereupon the indictment or information shall be deemed filed."

The Youthful Offender Act further provides that the maximum sentence that may be fixed under the Act is three years in the custody of the Board of Corrections. Section 15-19-6(a)(4), Code of Alabama 1975.

Although there is no right to automatic treatment as a youthful offender, an accused has a right to request to be considered a youthful offender. Lochli v. State, 565 So.2d 294 (Ala.Cr.App.1990). We have also stated that the Youthful Offender Act applies to all crimes ranging from "`petit larceny to murder in the first degree.'"2 Pressey v. State, 597 So.2d 1385, 1386 (Ala.Cr.App.1992), quoting Watkins v. State, 357 So.2d 156, 161 (Ala.Cr. App.1977), cert. denied, 357 So.2d 161 (Ala. 1978).

Here, the trial court ordered an investigation into Woods's background and a probation report was prepared.3 The record reflects that the trial court examined the report and denied the application for

789 So.2d 903
youthful offender treatment. This Court in Mansel v. State, 716 So.2d 234, 235 (Ala.Cr.App.1997), stated the following about reviewing a trial court's ruling on an application for youthful offender treatment:
"`The trial court has almost absolute discretion in ruling on applications for youthful offender status, and the actions of the trial judge are presumptively correct in the absence of a showing to the contrary.' Carden v. State, 621 So.2d 342, 345 (Ala.Cr.App.1992).
"`"When deciding whether to grant youthful offender status, it is expected that the nature of the crime charged, along with prior convictions of the defendant, will be considered, as well as any other matters deemed relevant by the court. No prescribed format is required. Neither is the trial court required to articulate on the record the reasons for denying youthful offender status to a defendant."'
"Self v. State, 512 So.2d 811, 814 (Ala.Cr. App.1987), quoting Goolsby v. State, 492 So.2d 635, 636 (Ala.Cr.App.1986) (citations omitted).
"`It is sufficient if the order of denial reflects that some investigation, examination, or inquiry was conducted before the application for youthful offender status was denied. Talley v. State, 504 So.2d 741, 742-43 (Ala.Cr. App.1987). A formal hearing on an application for youthful offender status is not required. Garrett v. State, 440 So.2d 1151, 1152 (Ala.Cr.App. 1983). Where it does not affirmatively appear that the trial court's decision was arbitrary or that it was made without any examination or investigation, there is no basis for overturning the trial court's decision. Wilson v. State, 563 So.2d 11, 12 (Ala.Cr.App. 1989).'
"Carden, 621 So.2d at 345."

See also Hyde v. State, 778 So.2d 109 (Ala.Cr.App.1998); J.F.B. v. State, 729 So.2d 355 (Ala.Cr.App.1998); Smith v. State, 623 So.2d 369 (Ala.Cr.App.1992), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1030, 114 S.Ct. 650, 126 L.Ed.2d 607 (1993). The record reflects that the trial court complied with the law as set out in Mansel. No error occurred here.


Woods next argues that his indictment should have been quashed because, he says, the venire from which the grand and petit juries were chosen failed to reflect a fair cross-section of the community. He further asserts that the indictment should have been quashed because, he says, the names of the grand and petit jurors were improperly drawn from the county as a whole and not solely from the Ashville Division, where the robbery-murder occurred.

The only evidence in the record concerning this contention is the following, which occurred at a motion hearing:

"The Court: ... Motion to Quash Petit Jury Venire—
"Mr. Vandall [defense counsel]: That motion is based on the jury venire of 124 names, as it was drawn on the 3rd of August. I have a certified copy of that provided list that I would add as an exhibit to this motion.
"The Court: Well, the jury venire is the jury venire.
"Mr. Vandall: We have some law as to this. This particular venire, as it was originally drawn, contained 124 names. There were only 7 African-Americans on that entire list of 124. There is some caselaw that—
789 So.2d 904
"The Court: I know the caselaw, but what are the facts?
"Mr. Vandall: That is a statistically insufficient number of black people of the St. Clair County population.
"The Court: What is the number of African-American population of jury service age in St. Clair County?
"Mr. Vandall: That, I cannot tell the Court.
"The Court: What evidence do you have there has been a systematic exclusion of African-Americans from the jury systems in St. Clair County?
"Mr. Vandall: The numbers themselves.
"The Court: That is all the evidence you have?
"Mr. Vandall: That is all.
"The Court: Overruled."

This Court in Benefield v. State, 726 So.2d 286 (Ala.Cr.App.1997), quoting Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357, 99 S.Ct. 664, 58 L.Ed.2d 579 (1979), stated:

"`[I]n Duren [v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357, 364, 99 S.Ct. 664, 668-69, 58 L.Ed.2d 579 (1979) ], the Court stated:
"`"In order to establish a prima facie violation of the fair cross-section requirement, the defendant must show (1) that the group alleged to be

To continue reading

Request your trial
61 cases
  • Doster v. State Of Ala.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • July 30, 2010
    ...Crim. App. 2001). "A trial court is in a far better position than a reviewing court to rule on issues of credibility. Woods v. State, 789 So. 2d 896, 915 (Ala. Crim. App. 1999). "Great confidence is placed in our trial judges in the selection of juries. Because they deal on a daily basis wi......
  • McGowan v. State, CR-95-1775.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • July 8, 2005
    ...Stewart v. State, 730 So.2d 1203, 1242 (Ala. Crim.App.1996), aff'd, 730 So.2d 1246 (Ala. 1999). See also Woods v. State, 789 So.2d 896, 939 (Ala.Crim.App.1999) (in rejecting a similar claim, the court noted that the appellant's "argument consists of only one paragraph and it fails to cite a......
  • Jones v. State, CR-03-1504.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 25, 2006
    ...successive interview. See Smith v. State, 795 So.2d 788, 810 (Ala.Crim.App.2000), cert. denied, 795 So.2d 842 (Ala.2001); Woods v. State, 789 So.2d 896, 923 (Ala.Crim.App. 1999), aff'd, 789 So.2d 941 (Ala.2001). Moreover, it is clear from the record that Jones's third statement was wholly v......
  • Wilson v. State, CR–07–0684.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 20, 2013
    ...(Ala.Crim.App.2001). “A trial court is in a far better position than a reviewing court to rule on issues of credibility.” Woods v. State, 789 So.2d 896, 915 (Ala.Crim.App.1999). “Great confidence is placed in our trial judges in the selection of juries. Because they deal on a daily basis wi......
  • 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