Young v. State, 1 Div. 889

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation363 So.2d 1007
Docket Number1 Div. 889
PartiesLovett YOUNG, Jr., alias Curley Young v. STATE.
Decision Date03 October 1978

Lee R. Butcher, Mobile, for appellant.

William J. Baxley, Atty. Gen., David W. Clark, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Willis Isaac, for the State, appellee.

JOSEPH J. MULLINS, Retired Circuit Judge.

The grand jury of Mobile County returned an indictment against the appellant, Lovett Young, Jr., alias Curley Young, charging him with the first degree murder of Frank Broadnax by shooting him with a gun. Appellant entered a plea of not guilty. A jury found the appellant guilty of murder in the first degree and fixed his punishment at imprisonment for life. The trial court entered a judgment in accordance with the verdict, and appellant appeals to this Court.

The appellant is now, and was at all proceedings in the trial court, represented by court appointed counsel. This appeal was submitted to this Court on briefs.

The appellant states in his brief three reasons why his conviction should be reversed: first, the evidence is not sufficient to sustain the jury verdict of murder in the first degree; second, denying appellant's motion to suppress a dying declaration; third, improper conduct of the Assistant District Attorney which denied the appellant a fair trial.

State's evidence tended to prove that at about eleven o'clock, A.M. on the 26th day of September, 1976, the stepfather of deceased carried him in a car over to appellant's house and left the deceased there with the appellant; that on the next day the stepfather of the deceased saw him at the hospital, and at that time the deceased told his stepfather that Curley Young shot him.

State's evidence further tended to prove that in the early morning hour on September 27, 1976, Mr. M. H. Muller, the owner and operator of Alabama Security Police Company which provides guard and patrol services for private concerns in the city of Mobile, together with Thomas R. Sandell, were in an automobile on their way to the Deishiki Club on Stone Street in the city of Mobile for the purpose of checking on a guard furnished by Alabama Security Police Company for the club when they saw the deceased lying in the street with his head lying in a pool of blood; that Mr. Muller saw blood which looked like it was coming from the head and shoulder of the deceased; that the deceased was screaming that his arm and his head hurt; mostly the deceased was screaming that, "I'm dying. He killed me. I'm dying. He killed me. He killed me;" that Mr. Muller told the deceased, "well, you're not dead yet, so don't get so excited. Calm down and you have a chance. Calm down. We're getting an ambulance for you;" that deceased kept saying, "Get me an ambulance. Get me an ambulance. I'm dying. I'm dying." Mr. Muller said to deceased, "Just calm down. Who shot you?" and the deceased said, "He shot me." Mr. Muller said, "Who shot you?" and the deceased said, "Curley ." On September 27, 1976 deceased was admitted to a hospital with a gunshot wound to the back of the head and one in his shoulder, and died on the 2nd day of October, 1976. Death was due to a gunshot wound to the head, and an autopsy of deceased revealed two bullet injuries one to the shoulder and one to the head; that one bullet struck the base of the brain fracturing the bone and damaging the brain producing hemorrhage and swelling with damage to the spinal cord as it emerged from the brain; that death was attributed to injury to the brain and the first portion of the spinal cord.

State further offered evidence of Sergeant Gavin Lamar Presnall of Mobile Police Department, Detective Division, and of Mr. Henry Nunn, Jr., a commercial artist and sign painter. All of these were present at the scene where Mr. Muller found the deceased lying in the street on September 27, 1976. All of the foregoing witnesses described the scene and statements of the deceased at the scene essentially the same as Mr. M. H. Muller.

State offered evidence that the appellant was known by the name of Lovett Young, Jr., and as Curley Young; that when the officers who arrested appellant in this case approached him, he ran about a block, and was caught by two officers. The State further offered the evidence of Shirley Sumpter, a sister of the deceased as to statements made to her by the deceased that he was dying and that the appellant shot the deceased. These statements will be more fully set out later in this opinion.

The appellant offered himself as a witness and testified that his name was Lovett Young, and he was also known as Curley Young; that he was 21 years of age, and had lived at 1905 Morton Street in Mobile with his mother and father all his life; that he knew the deceased; that the deceased visited with him on the day before he was shot; that he liked the deceased; that he knew nothing of the shooting of the deceased; that he did not see the deceased on the night he was shot; that the appellant was at the pool hall, or his house, all the night, and did not know of the shooting of the deceased until about noon the next day when he went to the pool hall; that he does not know anything about the shooting of deceased; that he had never been convicted of a crime of violence.

The sufficiency of State's evidence to sustain the jury verdict of murder in the first degree having been properly raised by the record has been carefully considered by the Court. The essential elements of murder in the first degree are that the taking of the life of a human being must have been willful, deliberate, malicious and premeditated. Code of Alabama, 1975, Sec. 13-1-70; Coats v. State, 253 Ala. 290, 45 So.2d 35; Cosby v. State, 269 Ala. 501, 114 So.2d 250. We hold that under the facts in this record the State's evidence fully supports the jury verdict, and that the trial court did not err in overruling appellant's motion to dismiss the indictment as to murder in the first degree. Coats v. State, supra; Cosby v. State, supra; Code of Alabama, 1975, Sec. 13-1-70, Sec.13-1-74.

Appellant complains that the trial court erred to appellant's prejudice by denying his motion to suppress a portion of the testimony of State's witness, Shirley Sumpter, sister of the deceased, wherein she testified that when she asked her brother who shot him, he replied, "Curley Young was the one who shot me." The appellant contended in the trial court that the statement of the deceased to his sister was not a dying declaration and should be suppressed because: first, it was made in response to a question when she asked him "Who shot you;" second, that the deceased was not in extremis when he made the statement to her because he said to his sister on one occasion, "To tell the family not to do anything to Curley, because if he lived he was going to get him back, but if he died, for us to bring him to court."

First, with reference to appellant's contention that the statement of the deceased was not admissible in evidence as a dying declaration because it was in response to a question propounded to him by his sister, in the case of Anderson v. State, 79 Ala. 5, on page 8, Justice Sommerville, speaking of a dying declaration, said, "The declarations were, therefore, admissible, and it was immaterial that one of these statements was elicited by an inquiry propounded to the declarant." In the case of Ingram v. State of Alabama, 67 Ala. 67, on page 71, Justice Stone, speaking of a dying declaration, said, "Part of the declaration of the deceased was in reply to a question asked him. This precise question has been several times before the English courts, and it was ruled that the fact that the declaration was made in reply to an inquiry did not render its admission illegal."

We hold that the fact that a declaration of the deceased is in answer to a question propounded to him does not render its admission illegal. Anderson v. State of Alabama, supra; Ingram v. State of Alabama, supra; Greer v. State, 156 Ala. 15, 47 So. 300; Nolan v. State, 207 Ala. 663, 93 So. 529; Tyler v. State, 207 Ala. 129, 92 So. 478.

We now consider the appellant's contention with reference to the trial court's finding that the deceased was in extremis when he told his sister who shot him. We find from the record before us that the sister of the deceased was called by the appellant as a witness and testified on direct examination before the trial judge on the hearing of the motion to suppress in substance the following: that she was the sister of deceased; that he was shot on September 27, 1976; that she visited him every day while he was in the hospital; that she had several conversations with him; that he died on October 2, 1976. When she first arrived at the Mobile Medical Center on September 27, 1976, she saw deceased in the emergency room, and he stated that he was in pain; that he had been shot in the head and shoulder; that she asked him who shot him. Later on in the day when she visited the deceased, he was crying and told her he was in pain. He asked the doctor for pain medicine, but the doctor would not give it to him. He said, "That Curley had shot him, and to tell the family not to do anything to Curley, because if he lived, he would get him back, but if he died, for us to bring him to court."

On cross-examination the witness testified that, when she visited her brother on the morning of September 27, 1976, at about 9:00 A.M., in the intensive care room at Mobile Medical Center, he said to her that he knew he was going to die; he said he believed he was going to die because he was in pain; that he said Curley was the one that "done it;" that she asked him what was Curley's full name, and he said that all he knew was the last name was Young; that was the Young man that my mother had carried him over to his house that morning. Her brother told her he believed he was going to die; that he knew he was shot in the head, because he complained of headache; that...

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