Alabama Supreme Court 86-1614.
The appellant, Maxwell Rodney Reeves, was indicted for the offense of murder and, following a jury trial, was convicted of manslaughter. He was sentenced to a term of 10 years' imprisonment, the first two years to be served and the remainder to be on probation, with a period of probation to be set for three years.
Shirley Orr of the Morgan County Sheriff's Department testified that he received a call that a shot had been fired and that he proceeded to the scene of the shooting. He testified that he entered the residence and observed a man lying on the kitchen floor. He examined the man for any signs of life and determined that he was dead. Orr further testified that there were three or four persons present and that, when he asked if they knew who was responsible for shooting the man, the appellant indicated that he had shot the man. Orr then asked the appellant, "What did you shoot him with?" and the appellant pointed to a gun lying on a dresser. Thereafter, Lieutenant Johnson arrived at the scene and took charge of the investigation.
James Waldrop testified that on the night in question he was visiting the appellant, who was living with Waldrop's half sister. He testified that he did not know the deceased, Richard Parker, before that night. Waldrop stated that he arrived at
The autopsy on Parker revealed that he died as the result of a gunshot wound to the left chest. Further, Parker's blood contained 0.28 percent alcohol.
The appellant took the stand and testified that when he first saw Parker on the night in question, he was walking down the hallway into the kitchen. The appellant testified that Parker had not been invited and had just walked in his house. The appellant told Parker to get out of his house, whereupon Parker began to verbally harass him. Apparently, Parker was having problems with a woman who lived with him. The woman had left him and was staying at the appellant's house. Parker threatened to kill anyone who got in his way. Parker stated that he would not leave and the appellant testified that he appeared to be drunk. He had a half gallon bottle of whiskey with him which was half empty. Parker continued drinking while he was talking to the appellant. Waldrop's sister picked up the half gallon bottle and poured the rest of it down the sink. Thereafter, Parker threatened to kill her. Parker informed appellant he wanted to go over to some friends' house and the appellant drove him to the vicinity of the house in order to get him out of his home. Parker then stated he would not get out of the car unless the appellant took him to Decatur or Hartselle. The appellant drove back to his house and still Parker would not leave. Before the appellant had left with Parker in the car, Waldrop's half sister had slipped the appellant a gun and when Parker refused to leave upon their return to the appellant's house, the appellant fired a warning shot into the ground. Parker jumped out of the car and attempted to grab appellant, who backed away and warned him, "Don't do it." Parker pretended to leave and the appellant went into his house and locked the door. Approximately three or four minutes later Waldrop arrived and when Waldrop walked up to the front porch, Parker came with him. When the appellant opened the screen door to allow Waldrop to walk in, Parker pushed his way in behind Waldrop. Parker went into the kitchen and thereafter grabbed a bottle of liquor out of the refrigerator. Waldrop's half sister attempted to take the bottle away from him. Parker pushed her into the kitchen table and told her to get out of the kitchen or he would kill her. The appellant quickly entered the kitchen, whereupon Parker walked toward the appellant, threatening to kill him and everyone in the house. Parker had the bottle in his hand and pulled it back as if he intended to strike the appellant with it. The appellant ducked, pulled his pistol out of his pocket, and shot Parker.
The appellant contends that the trial court erred in allowing the jury to be unsequestered.
Furthermore, the appellant has failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the trial court's failure to require sequestration of the jury. Willis v. State, 441 So.2d 1030 (Ala.Cr.App.1983). "There is no contention or showing nor was there any effort made during the trial to demonstrate that anyone contacted any of the jurors or that they were, in fact, influenced by anything written or spoken through any media." Trahan v. State, 450 So.2d 1102, 1106 (Ala.Cr. App.1984).
"`The trial judge believed there was no reason to sequester the jury during the trial and the appellant has not shown that he was prejudiced in any way by any such separation.
"`Therefore, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial judge's decision to allow the jury to separate during this appellant's trial. No injury has been shown.'"
The appellant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to record the opening and closing statements. Section 12-17-275, Code of Alabama (1975), provides:
"The official court reporter is not required to transcribe the argument of counsel except where objection is made. McClary v. State, 291 Ala. 481, 282 So.2d 384 (1973); Langford v. State, 354 So.2d 297 (Ala.Cr.App.1977), rev'd on other grounds, 354 So.2d 313 (Ala.1977); Ala. Code § 12-17-275 (1975)." Ervin v. State, 399 So.2d 894, 898 (Ala.Cr.App.1981), cert. denied, 399 So.2d 899 (Ala.1981). Any remarks made by the prosecutor which the appellant considers objectionable should be fully quoted, or substantially so, by objection. Id.
Briggs v. State, 375 So.2d 530, 535 (Ala.Cr. App.1979).
The appellant has made no allegations concerning specific arguments made by the prosecutor in his closing or his opening statement which the appellant deemed objectionable. Moreover, Alabama law does
The appellant contends that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion for new trial. However, in the trial court's order dismissing the appellant's motion for new trial, it is apparent that this motion was set for a hearing and that on the date set for the hearing the appellant's attorney did not appear. Thereafter, the same attorney was inquired of by mail as to whether his failure to appear was due to weather conditions or whether he intentionally waived the motion. That inquiry was made on December 26, 1985, and on January 10, 1986, when no response had yet been received, the trial court dismissed the motion. On February 10, 1986, the appellant's counsel made a motion to resubmit his motion for new trial on affidavits and without oral argument. That motion was stamped "Moot."
In his brief on appeal, the appellant's counsel argues as follows: "The defendant's motion for a new trial was well taken and the trial court erred in dismissing this motion. It should have been granted."
Vinzant v. State, 462 So.2d 1037, 1039 (Ala.Cr.App.1984).
"Arguments not based on any legal authority have the same effect as if no argument had been made, and the argument will be deemed waived. Jones v. City of Decatur, 53 Ala.App. 470, 301 So.2d 235 (Ala.Cr.App.1974); Terry v. City of Decatur, 49 Ala.App. 652, 275 So.2d 167 (Ala.Cr. App.1973); Adams v. State, 291 Ala. 224, 279 So.2d 488 (1973)." Id.
The appellant argues that his trial was unfair because the deceased's family and friends made repeated threats and threatening gestures during the trial. Specifically, the appellant argues that during recesses, the unsequestered jury was allowed to roam through the courthouse while the deceased's family made "loud and violent threats, that could be clearly heard, against defendant, his witnesses, and his attorneys." In the appellant's motion for new trial, he attached three affidavits from parties present during the trial who stated that they were harassed by the victim's family members or friends. None of the three were members of the jury; rather they were the woman with whom the victim had been living; Waldrop's half sister; and Tunis C. Reeves, presumably a relative of the appellant.
The decision of whether or not to grant a motion for new trial is a matter within the discretion of the trial court. Hollins v. State, 415 So.2d 1249 (Ala.Cr.App.1982); Watson v. State, 389 So.2d 961 (Ala.Cr. App.1980).
"`The prejudicial effect of communications between jurors and others, especially in a criminal case, determines the reversible character of the error. Whether there has been a communication with the juror, and whether it has caused prejudice are fact questions to be determined by the Court in the exercise of sound discretion. ... His ruling and determination will not be disturbed in the absence of a showing of abuse of discretion.'"
"`During the entire trial the record gives no indication of any feeling or prejudice or the slightest disorder; and the mere fact that it was a conductor who was killed gave no just reason to exclude these men from the courtroom. This too was largely a matter of discretion, with no abuse thereof shown.' 239 Ala. at 318, 194 So. at 816.
"`The court is charged with a high and important duty not without its difficulties in taking proper care to effect the object of according to the accused, a fair and impartial trial while having due regard to interests of the state. No legal reason except that addressed to the court's discretion was assigned why the widow and children should have been excluded or removed to a different part of the courtroom, and we know of no rule of law that would authorize a court to exclude spectators or other persons from the courtroom, or remove them from the view of the jury, during the progress of a public trial of this nature, except for misconduct or some cause that appealed to the sound discretion of the court in administering substantial justice; and it is only abuse of that discretion that this court can review. The record does not, to our mind, present such an abuse of discretion as would justify a court of review in reversing the judgment on account of the court's refusal to grant the defendant's request in this case.' 12 Ala.App. at 90, 68 So. at 497."
Lehr v. State, 398 So.2d 791, 801 (Ala.Cr. App.1981).
Much of the alleged misconduct by the victim's family and friends supposedly occurred in the hallway or in the cafeteria. These are public areas and any actions occurring therein were outside of the observation of the trial court. Further, from the record, we can find no instance or indication of any misconduct so as to substantiate a claim of abuse of the trial court's discretion. Moreover, as indicated previously, we do not find that the jury was improperly unsequestered.
The appellant argues that the trial court erred in sentencing him to a specific term with no "good time." The appellant alleges that sentencing him to no good time "exceeded the Court's authority to sentence the defendant." The appellant cites no authority for this contention and thus
All the Judges concur.