HODGE v. COMMONWEALTH
Supreme Court of Kentucky.
August 25, 2011.
Believing both victims were dead, they left the home. The three men then fled to Florida. Along with their girlfriends, they brazenly spent the stolen money on a lavish lifestyle and luxury goods, including a Corvette. A former cellmate testified that Hodge recounted spreading all the money out on a bed and having sex with his girlfriend on top of it.
We have considered the totality of evidence before Hodge's sentencing jury, including the proposed mitigation evidence. Parrish v. Commonwealth, 272 S.W.3d 161, 169 (Ky. 2008) (reviewing court must consider totality of the evidence in considering prejudice prong of ineffective assistance of counsel claim). Balancing all of the available evidence in mitigation and aggravation, we are compelled to reach the conclusion that there exists no reasonable probability that the jury would not have sentenced Hodge to death. There is no doubt that Hodge, as a child, suffered a most severe and unimaginable level of physical and mental abuse. Perhaps this information may have offered insight for the jury, providing some explanation for the career criminal he later became. If it had been admitted, the PTSD diagnosis offered in mitigation might have explained Hodge's substance abuse, or perhaps even a crime committed in a fit of rage as a compulsive reaction. But it offers virtually no rationale for the premeditated, cold-blooded murder and attempted murder of two innocent victims who were complete strangers to Hodge. Many, if not most, malefactors committing terribly violent and cruel murders are the subjects of terrible childhoods. Even if the sentencing jury had this mitigation evidence before it, we do not believe, in light of the particularly depraved and brutal nature of these crimes, that it would have spared Hodge the death penalty. We, therefore, affirm this portion of the trial court's judgment.Conclusion
As a final matter, there is nothing in the record to support Hodge's allegation that the trial court abdicated its judicial function to the Commonwealth. We find nothing improper in the trial court assigning to the Commonwealth the clerical task of memorializing, in writing, its oral findings of fact and conclusions of law.
For the foregoing reasons, the judgments of the Letcher Circuit Court are hereby affirmed.
All sitting. All concur.