PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS. (Montgomery Circuit Court, CC-92-1354 and -1355, Court of Criminal Appeals, CR-92-1185). Joseph Phelps, Trial Judge.
Rehearing Denied February 24, 1995. Released for Publication June 25, 1995. As Corrected December 8, 1995.
Kennedy, Almon, Houston, and Cook, JJ., concur. Ingram, J., concurs in the result.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kennedy
We granted certiorari review in order to determine the following issues: (1) whether Jerry Allen Youngblood voluntarily waived his Miranda rights and (2) whether the trial court can order the court reporter to exercise the State's unused peremptory challenges.
The State's evidence tended to show that on April 8, 1992, Youngblood and his brother entered Dawson's Shirt Shop, located in Montgomery, Alabama. The two men had planned to rob the owner, Eula Mae Dawson, but brought no weapons with them. Mrs. Dawson drew a pistol on the two. While Mrs. Dawson and Youngblood struggled for the pistol, a single shot was fired; that shot struck Mrs. Dawson and she later died from her injuries.
A witness to the crime, Kathleen Rucker, testified that Youngblood and his brother had entered the shop earlier in the day to buy some bubble gum. Later, she said, the two brothers came back to the shop, ostensibly to have a pair of pants repaired. While Youngblood's brother talked with Mrs. Dawson about the pants, Youngblood walked over and demanded that she give him some money. Rucker stated that Youngblood threatened to kill her if she did not comply. Youngblood's brother forced Mrs. Rucker to the floor.
Mrs. Rucker testified that as Mrs. Dawson pulled her pistol out, Youngblood wrested it away from her, threatening her life; during the struggle, the shot was fired. Youngblood took Mrs. Dawson's purse, and the brother took Mrs. Rucker's wallet.
Youngblood was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction. Youngblood v. State, 656 So. 2d 385 (Ala.Crim.App. 1993).
Did the trial court err in denying Youngblood's motion to suppress his statements to the police?
Youngblood argues he has a low level of intelligence and a hearing impairment and that those conditions presented him from making a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights.
The facts surrounding his statements are as follows: Youngblood was arrested approximately one hour after the crime was committed. Corporal G.P. Bellefleur read aloud to him the Miranda rights as they were stated on the back of a card, while looking down at the card and while sitting next to Youngblood in the police car. At police headquarters, Detective K.C. Baldwin read Youngblood his Miranda rights from a printed form. Baldwin then told Youngblood to read aloud the second paragraph of a prepared form, which states "I fully understand the foregoing statement and do willingly agree to answer questions. I understand and know what I am doing. No promise or threats have been made to me by anyone and no pressure of any kind has been made against me by anyone." (C.R. 11.)
Detective Baldwin then asked Youngblood about the incident. Youngblood gave confusing answers to several questions. For example, when asked "Can you describe what she looks like?" Youngblood responded by giving directions to a house. (C.R. 21.) When asked "Is she kinda [sic] heavyset or small or what?" he said "Small hair, not long hair, small hair, black hair." (C.R. 21.) During the interview with Detective Baldwin, Youngblood stated that his brother shot the victim.
Detective Carmichael then entered the office to interrogate Youngblood. Carmichael read Youngblood his Miranda rights. Carmichael then said, "Now, can you hear what I am saying to you? I know you're a little hard of hearing." (C.R. 27.) Carmichael then asked Youngblood to read a statement saying that he understood his rights and was waiving them. Youngblood read the statement out loud and told Detective Carmichael that he understood it.
Detective Carmichael then asked Youngblood about the incident. Youngblood told Carmichel that he, not his brother, shot the victim. Carmichael then read Youngblood his Miranda rights again. Subsequently, the police made a videotape of ...