Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court. (CC-93-5235). James Hard, TRIAL JUDGE.
Rehearing Denied February 10, 1995. S.C. Dismissed Cert. Petition March 21, 1995. (1940752). Released for Publication July 30, 1996.
Taylor, Judge. All The Judges Concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Taylor
The appellant, Jacob Dansby, Jr., was found guilty of the capital offense of double murder. See § 13A-5-40(a)(10), Code of Alabama 1975. He was found guilty of murdering his wife, Willie Francis Dansby, and his 15-year-old son, Allen Dansby. The jury unanimously recommended that the appellant be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The court accepted the jury's recommendation and sentenced the appellant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
The appellant's sole contention on appeal is that the court erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal. Specifically, the appellant contends that the state did not present sufficient evidence from which the jury could find him guilty of murdering his wife and son. Of particular importance in this case is the fact that the bodies of Willie Francis Dansby and Allen Dansby were never found. The absence of a corpse of a murder victim will not prevent a conviction for the crime. Convictions have been affirmed in the following Alabama cases where no corpse was found: Bell v. State, 475 So. 2d 601 (Ala. Cr. App. 1984), aff'd, 475 So. 2d 609 (Ala.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1038, 106 S. Ct. 607, 88 L. Ed. 2d 585 (1985); Gilchrist v. State, 466 So. 2d 988 (Ala. Cr. App. 1984), writ quashed, 466 So. 2d 991 (Ala. 1985); Lewis v. State, 220 Ala. 461, 125 So. 802 (1930). "Corpus delicti" refers to the body of the crime, not the body of the victim. Black's Law Dictionary 344 (6th ed. 1990).
Although abundant evidence was presented to the jury, it would be impractical in this opinion to specifically refer to every item of evidence against the appellant contained in the eight-volume record. While this court will not guess at which items of evidence the jury found most persuasive, we will provide a synopsis of the evidence presented at trial.
The appellant was arrested and charged with murder as a result of an investigation surrounding the discovery of Mrs. Dansby's abandoned Pontiac Sunbird automobile. On May 30, 1993, at 4:49 p.m., Officers Paul Rhodes and John Clemons of the Tarrant Police Department discovered a white Sunbird automobile parked beside Seaboard Road near the Southern Ready Mix rock quarry. The car doors were unlocked and the key was in the ignition.
The officers attempted to ascertain who owned the car. A license plate check revealed that the car was not registered. The officers searched the car and found a letter addressed to Lashoundra Dansby at 3916 40th Street North in Birmingham. They went to the residence located at 3916 40th Street North, approximately one and one-half miles from where the car was discovered. They arrived at the residence at 5:20 p.m. The appellant answered the door. He told the officers that Lashoundra was his daughter and that the white Sunbird automobile belonged to his wife, Willie Francis Dansby, from whom he was separated.
The appellant told the officers that his wife and his son, Allen Dansby, left the residence together around 2:30 that afternoon. He told the officers that he did not know why his wife's car had been abandoned.
The officers took the appellant to Mrs. Dansby's car. The officers told the appellant to go to Mrs. Dansby's apartment to see if anything was wrong and to telephone the Tarrant Police Department when he got to the apartment. The officers also told the appellant to telephone the Birmingham Police Department if he thought something was wrong when he got to Mrs. Dansby's apartment. The appellant left the scene in the white Sunbird automobile at approximately 5:45 p.m.
Between 6:15 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., the Tarrant police officers tried unsuccessfully to contact the appellant by telephone at his house. At 8:20 p.m., the officers went back to the appellant's house. The appellant answered the door. When they asked him why he did not telephone the officers once he had gotten to the apartment, he responded that he did not know. When asked if he had located his wife and son, he again responded that he did not know. He also told the officers that he did not telephone the Birmingham police because he was scared and did not know what to do. The officers then had to leave the appellant's residence to respond to another call.
At 9:30 p.m., the officers returned to the appellant's house. The appellant did not answer the door and the appellant's pickup truck was gone.
The officers went back to the appellant's house at 11:00 p.m. The appellant was there and invited them inside. The appellant immediately knelt down and began scrubbing the living room carpet with a solution that the officers said smelled like bleach. The officers talked with the ...