Appeal from Houston Circuit Court. (CC-93-968; CC-93-969; CC-93-970; and CC-93-971). Michael Crespi, TRIAL JUDGE.
As Corrected. Rule 39(k) Motion Denied June 16, 1995. Application for Rehearing Overruled without opinion June 16, 1995. Released For Publication January 16, 1996.
Taylor, Presiding Judge. All The Judges Concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Taylor
The appellant, Keith Allan Holland, was charged with three counts of murder and one count of assault in the first degree. He was convicted of three counts of manslaughter, a violation of § 13A-6-3, Code of Alabama 1975, and one count of assault in the first degree, a violation of § 13A-6-20, Code of Alabama 1975. The charges against the appellant in this case arose out of an automobile collision in Houston County on June 13, 1993.
The appellant contends that the court erred in not permitting one of his witnesses to testify as an expert in the field of accident reconstruction. The court did, however, allow state's witness Alabama State Trooper Barry Tucker to give his opinion as to the point of impact of the two vehicles involved in the collision. The court also permitted Alabama State Trooper Bruce James Turner to testify, on rebuttal, as an expert in accident reconstruction.
We begin our analysis with § 12-21-160, Code of Alabama 1975, which states:
"The opinions of experts on any question of science, skill, trade or like questions are always admissible, and such opinions may be given on the facts as proved by other witnesses."
The question then becomes what makes a witness an expert. This court in Bailey v. State, 574 So. 2d 1001, 1002-03 (Ala. Cr. App. 1990), stated the following:
"The criterion for admission of expert testimony is that the witness, by study, practice, experience, or observation as to a particular subject should have acquired knowledge beyond that of an ordinary witness; an expert witness is one who can enlighten the jury more than the average man on the street, one whose knowledge extends beyond or supersedes that of an ordinary witness, or one who is shown, either by training or experience, to be better informed than a hypothetical average juror. Charles v. State, 350 So. 2d 730 (Ala.Cr.App. 1977); C. Gamble, McElroy's Alabama Evidence § 127.01(5) (3d ed. 1977)."
This court in Fleming v. State, 470 So. 2d 1343, 1347 (Ala. Cr. App. 1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 857, 106 S. Ct. 164, 88 L. Ed. 2d 136 (1985), stated:
"'If a witness' knowledge extends beyond or supersedes that of an ordinary witness, as determined by the trial Judge, the witness can become an expert.' Smoot v. State, 381 So. 2d 668 (Ala. Crim. App. 1980); ...