Woodward v. State

Decision Date18 December 1997
Docket NumberNo. 95-DP-00144-SCT.,95-DP-00144-SCT.
Citation726 So.2d 524
PartiesPaul Everette WOODWARD v. STATE of Mississippi.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Terryl Rushing, Alston Rutherford & Van Slyke, Jackson, Michael Adelman, Adelman & Steiner, Hattiesburg, for Appellant.

Michael C. Moore, Attorney General, Marvin L. White, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Leslie S. Lee, Sp. Asst. Attorney General, Jackson, for Appellee.

EN BANC.

PRATHER, Presiding Justice, for the Court:

I. INTRODUCTION

¶ 1. This capital murder case arises from the July 23, 1986, rape and murder of twenty-four-year-old Rhonda Holliman Crane (a volunteer, court-appointed, special advocate for children in the Jackson County Youth Court). Crane was traveling alone on Highway 29 in Perry County to meet her parents, who were camping at Flynt Creek Water Park. The appellant, Paul Everette Woodward, who was driving a logging truck, forced her vehicle to stop. He ordered her into his truck at gunpoint, and drove her to a secluded spot. He took her into the woods, raped her, and shot her in the back of the head, killing her instantly. Crane's father found her body the next day.

¶ 2. This Court affirmed Woodward's subsequent capital murder conviction and death sentence. Thereafter, however, this Court granted Woodward's petition for post-conviction relief, based upon the United States Supreme Court's decision in Clemons v. Mississippi, 494 U.S. 738, 110 S.Ct. 1441, 108 L.Ed.2d 725 (1990). The case was remanded for resentencing, and Woodward was, once again, sentenced to death. The appeal sub judice arises from Woodward's second sentencing trial.

¶ 3. Several of the issues raised by Woodward on appeal were not presented to the trial judge for consideration; therefore, consideration of these issues is procedurally barred. In addition, after due consideration, this Court finds each issue raised by Woodward to be without merit. Accordingly, the judgment sentencing Woodward to death is affirmed.

II. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶ 4. On September 8, 1986, Paul Everette Woodward was indicted by the Perry County Grand Jury for the July 23, 1986, capital murder (with the underlying crime of rape), kidnapping, and sexual battery of Rhonda Crane. Upon Woodward's motion for change of venue, a trial was held in Hinds County in April, 1987. Woodward was convicted on all three counts, and was sentenced to death on the capital murder conviction. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed. Woodward v. State, 533 So.2d 418 (Miss.1988) (hereinafter Woodward I), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1028, 109 S.Ct. 1767, 104 L.Ed.2d 202 (1989), reh'g denied, 490 U.S. 1117, 109 S.Ct. 3179, 104 L.Ed.2d 1041 (1989).

¶ 5. On October 7, 1993, this Court granted Woodward's motion for post-conviction relief, and remanded the case for resentencing on the capital murder charge. Specifically, this Court cited the United States Supreme Court decision in Clemons v. Mississippi, 494 U.S. 738, 110 S.Ct. 1441, 108 L.Ed.2d 725 (1990), and held that Woodward's death sentence was improper because the sentencing jury was incorrectly instructed regarding the "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel" aggravating circumstance. Woodward v. State, 635 So.2d 805, 811 (Miss.1993) (hereinafter Woodward II).

¶ 6. On remand for resentencing on the capital murder charge, the trial judge granted Woodward's motion to withdraw the motion for change of venue. Jury selection in Perry County began September 13, 1995.

¶ 7. On September 20, 1995, the jury rendered its verdict, that Woodward should, once again, be sentenced to death. Specifically, the jury found that Woodward: a) attempted to kill the victim, b) actually killed the victim, c) intended the killing of the victim, and d) contemplated that lethal force would be employed. The jury also found the following aggravating factors to exist: a) the murder was committed while Woodward was engaged in the commission of rape, b) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and c) the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest, or effecting an escape from custody. The trial judge then sentenced Woodward to death.

¶ 8. On September 26, 1995, Woodward moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), or, in the alternative, a new trial. The trial judge denied the motion October 12, 1995. From that judgment, Woodward appeals, in forma pauperis, and raises the following issues for consideration by this Court:

A. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE APPELLANT'S CHALLENGES TO MISSISSIPPI'S CAPITAL MURDER STATUTES?

B. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE APPELLANT'S REQUEST FOR PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION?

C. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE STATE TO PEREMPTORILY STRIKE EVERY AVAILABLE BLACK JUROR IN VIOLATION OF BATSON V. KENTUCKY AND POWERS V. OHIO?

D. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE INTRODUCTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE DECEDENT?

E. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT'S LIMITING INSTRUCTION DEFINING "ESPECIALLY HEINOUS, ATROCIOUS, OR CRUEL" BOTH BY ITS DEFINITION OF TERMS AND ITS REFERENCE TO MUTILATION, TORTURE OR DISMEMBERMENT WAS CONSTITUTIONALLY INVALID AND UNSUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE IN THIS CASE?

F. WHETHER THE STATE ADDUCED EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE PROPOSITION THAT THE MURDER WAS COMMITTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF AVOIDING OR PREVENTING DETECTION AND LAWFUL ARREST?

G. WHETHER THE SUPREME COURT CAN REWEIGH REMAINING AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE DEATH SENTENCE WAS PROPER?

H. WHETHER THE PAYMENT OF THE STATE'S WITNESSES IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT PERMITTED BY LAW CONSTITUTES PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT THAT MANDATES REVERSAL?

¶ 9. As stated earlier, consideration of several of these issues is procedurally barred, because the issues were not presented to the trial court. This rule is not diminished in a capital case. Chase v. State, 645 So.2d 829, 845 (Miss.1994); Foster v. State, 639 So.2d 1263, 1270 (Miss.1994); Cole v. State, 525 So.2d 365, 369 (Miss.1987); Irving v. State, 498 So.2d 305, 307 (Miss.1986); Johnson v. State, 477 So.2d 196, 214 (Miss. 1985); In re Hill, 460 So.2d 792, 798 (Miss. 1984); Hill v. State, 432 So.2d 427, 439 (Miss. 1983). Alternatively, this Court has considered the merits of the procedurally barred claims, with the knowledge that any subsequent review will stand on the bar alone. Chase, 645 So.2d at 845; Foster, 639 So.2d at 1270. Additionally, this Court has considered the merits of the remaining claims.

¶ 10. After thorough consideration, this Court finds that the issues raised by Woodward on appeal lack merit. For this reason, the trial court's imposition of the death sentence is affirmed. Moreover, in cases where the death sentence is affirmed, Mississippi law mandates a determination of the following additional issue:

I. WHETHER, PURSUANT TO MISS. CODE ANN. § 99-19-105(3), THE DEATH SENTENCE IMPOSED IN THIS CASE WAS FREE FROM THE INFLUENCE OF PASSION, PREJUDICE OR ANY OTHER ARBITRARY FACTOR; SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE; AND PROPORTIONATE TO THE PENALTY IMPOSED IN SIMILAR CASES?

III. LEGAL ANALYSIS

¶ 11. This Court's standard for reviewing an appeal from capital murder conviction and death sentence was explained in Williamson v. State, 512 So.2d 868, 872 (Miss.1987):

On appeal to this Court convictions of capital murder and sentences of death must be subjected to what has been labeled `heightened scrutiny.' Under this method of review, all bona fide doubts are to be resolved in favor of the accused because `what may be harmless error in a case with less at stake becomes reversible error when the penalty is death.'

Balfour v. State, 598 So.2d 731, 739 (Miss. 1992) (citations omitted). Woodward raises eight assignments of error for this Court's review under this standard.

A. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE APPELLANT'S CHALLENGES TO MISSISSIPPI'S CAPITAL MURDER STATUTES?

¶ 12. Woodward filed several pre-trial motions challenging the validity of Mississippi's capital murder statutes, all of which were denied. On appeal, Woodward contends that Mississippi's capital murder statutes are unconstitutional because capital punishment is cruel and unusual. He also argues that the imposition of capital punishment is inherently capricious.

¶ 13. "[T]his Court has previously determined that Mississippi's capital sentencing scheme, as a whole, is constitutional." Lockett v. State, 614 So.2d 888, 897 (Miss.1992) (citing Billiot v. State, 454 So.2d 445 (Miss. 1984); Smith v. State, 419 So.2d 563 (Miss. 1982); Jones v. State, 381 So.2d 983 (Miss. 1980); Coleman v. State, 378 So.2d 640 (Miss. 1979)). Therefore, Woodward's argument is without merit.

B. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE APPELLANT'S REQUEST FOR PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION?

¶ 14. Woodward also moved pre-trial for funds with which to be examined by Dr. John Ritter, a psychiatrist. Dr. Clarence Thurman, the clinical psychologist who had extensively evaluated Woodward in 1986 and 1994, filed an affidavit supporting Woodward's request for evaluation by a forensic psychiatrist. According to Dr. Thurman:

Given the severity of Mr. Woodward's emotional problems, I believe that his request for examination and assistance by a forensic psychiatrist is reasonably necessary to his defense. Such an examination would complement my own interviews and testing of Mr. Woodward and provide a different perspective regarding his emotional problems. I believe such further examination by a medically licensed psychiatrist would not be cumulative and would contribute substantially and significantly to Mr. Woodward's defense.

¶ 15. The trial judge granted in part and denied in part Woodward's motion for psychiatric evaluation as follows:

IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED, that the defendant be allowed evaluation at Mississippi State Hospital if he so desires psychiatric examination, and to continue to have at his disposal Dr. Clarence Therman [sic], who has previously
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