Corrected April 30, 2015.
from Mobile Circuit Court. (CC-12-890; CC-12-1227).
Appellant: Christine C. Hernandez, Mobile.
Appellee: Luther Strange, atty. gen., and Beth Slate Poe,
asst. atty. gen.
appellant, Jakarrey Deanthony Chambers, was convicted of two
counts of murder, a violation of § 13A-6-2, Ala. Code
1975. The circuit court sentenced Chambers to 99 years'
imprisonment on each count, to be served consecutively.
evidence presented at trial established the following
pertinent facts. On January 29, 2011, Tasha Reed went to
check on Roy Ezell and Sherley Ezell after she was unable to
reach them by telephone. Reed considered Roy and Sherley to
be her " godmomma" and " goddaddy." (R.
244.) Reed decided to leave a note at the Ezells' house
after she was unable to reach them by telephone. When Reed
arrived at the Ezells' house, she noticed that their
newspaper was in the front yard and that the mailbox was
full. Reed, who had a key to the " burglar bar
door" of the Ezells' house, testified that the door
could be locked only from the outside with a key. While
attempting to open the door to the house, Reed looked through
broken blinds in the window next to the door and saw Roy and
Sherley lying on the floor with blood around them. Reed
immediately ran to the neighbor's house to telephone the
police. Reed informed police that the door was locked when
she arrived at the Ezells' house.
Zack Davis with the Mobile Police Department was dispatched
to the Ezell residence and arrived at approximately 5:30 p.m.
When Davis arrived he saw Sherley Ezell lying face down in
the doorway, covered in blood. Sherley did not initially
appear to be breathing but gasped for air after officers
secured the scene. She was immediately transported to the
hospital for treatment but died days later from her injuries.
Officer Davis also saw Roy Ezell lying face down and covered
in blood with a knife embedded in his back. Autopsies
performed on Roy and Sherley indicated that both had
blunt-force trauma to the head consistent with having been
struck with a baseball bat.
scene, officers found a pipe, similar to one used for smoking
crack, and a lighter on the electrical box in an unfinished
area of the garage. While photographing the scene, Ronnie
Myers, a crime-scene investigator with the Mobile Police
Department at the time, rolled Roy's body over and found
" a [finger]tip of
a plastic latex glove underneath his body." (R. 307.)
Forensic testing on a sample of blood taken from the latex
glove indicated a mixture of blood with a " major [DNA]
profile and a minor contributor." (R. 425.) The major
DNA profile belonged to Roy, and Chambers was included as a
possible minor contributor. According to the DNA profile, 1
in 209,000 random unrelated African-American individuals have
a DNA profile that would be included as a possible
contributor. Officers also discovered a bloody shoe print
near Roy's body that one of the officers believed was
made by a Nike Air Force One athletic shoe. Photographs and
measurements of the shoe print were sent to the Federal
Bureau of Investigation for analysis. The results of the
analysis indicated that the shoe imprint found at the scene
most closely corresponded to a Nike Air Jordan Fusion
later searched a black Kia automobile owned by the Ezells and
found in the possession of Chambers at Chambers's
residence. Using luminal, police detected blood on the right
front floorboard mat, as well as a small amount of blood on
the steering wheel. Underneath the floorboard mat, police
found a dark red area that was dry, but not "
scaly" and did not appear to be very old. (R. 315.)
Forensic testing indicated that Sherley's blood matched
the blood found on the floorboard mat. Officers also found a
pair of black Nike Air Force One athletic shoes in the trunk
of the vehicle and various clothing.
their investigation, police learned that Chambers had free
access to the Ezells' house. Reed testified that Chambers
knew the Ezells and was around their house often around the
time of the murders. In the early morning hours on the day of
the murder, Roy telephoned Chambers at least 44 times.
gave six statements to police. Chambers gave his first
statement to police on January 29, 2011. During his
statement, Chambers confirmed that he was close to the Ezells
and that he regularly drove the black Kia. Investigator
Charles Bagsby testified that there were some inconsistencies
in Chambers's first statement to police. Police
confronted Chambers a second time the following day regarding
the inconsistencies in his first statement. Bagsby questioned
Chambers a third time in June 2011 after the forensic testing
had been completed. Chambers gave Bagsby several inconsistent
versions of what had happened. Initially, Chambers stated
that a third person entered the Ezells' house, robbed
them, and killed them with a baseball bat. Then Chambers
stated that a Frye Park gang was involved and named two
members who had allegedly committed the crime. Chambers next
alleged that a man named Michael Glenn was responsible for
the murders. Chambers claimed Glenn was armed with a 9-mm.
handgun and described Glenn wearing " school
clothes" during the murder, but denied seeing
Glenn's shoes. (R. 485.) Bagsby testified that at times
during the interview Chambers admitted being present when the
murders occurred and on at least one occasion Chambers told
Bagsby the location of Sherley's body. Bagsby testified
that at other times Chambers denied being present at the
Ezells' house when the murders occurred.
12, 2011, Chambers initiated contact with police and gave his
fifth statement in the investigation. Chambers informed
police that Glenn was wearing a pair of black Nike Air Force
One shoes and blue jeans when he murdered the Ezells.
Chambers also alleged that Glenn was armed with a baseball
bat, which Chambers stated Glenn retrieved from behind the
door of the Ezells' house. Chambers
denied ever wearing gloves inside the Ezells' house.
his sixth and final statement to police, Chambers told Bagsby
that he went to the Ezells' house after work to make sure
that they were " okay" but found them dead inside
the house. (R. 493.) Chambers stated that he then went to
CiCi's Pizza with his girlfriend. Bagsby testified that
Chambers did not telephone police upon finding the
Ezells' bodies because " he said he was scared,
[and] that was pretty much it." (R. 493.) Chambers was
unable to explain how the door was locked after he left the
both sides rested and the circuit court instructed the jury
on the applicable principles of law, the jury found Chambers
guilty of two counts of murder. Chambers subsequently filed a
motion for a new trial that the circuit court denied. This
first contends that the circuit court erred when it denied
his motion for a judgment of acquittal because, he argues,
the State presented circumstantial evidence that was
insufficient to overcome the presumption of innocence and
reasonable doubt. Chambers contends that the State failed to
prove that he intended to cause the death of the
" '" In determining the sufficiency of the
evidence to sustain a conviction, a reviewing court must
accept as true all evidence introduced by the State, accord
the State all legitimate inferences therefrom, and consider
all evidence in a light most favorable to the
prosecution." ' Ballenger v. State, 720
So.2d 1033, 1034 (Ala.Crim.App. 1998), quoting Faircloth
v. State, 471 So.2d 485, 488 (Ala.Crim.App. 1984),
aff'd, 471 So.2d 493 (Ala. 1985). '" The test
used in determining the sufficiency of evidence to sustain a
conviction is whether, viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, a rational finder of fact could
have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt." ' Nunn v. State, 697 So.2d 497, 498
(Ala.Crim.App. 1997), quoting O'Neal v. State,
602 So.2d 462, 464 (Ala.Crim.App. 1992). '" When
there is legal evidence from which the jury could, by fair
inference, find the defendant guilty, the trial court should
submit [the case] to the jury, and, in such a case, this
court will not disturb the trial court's decision."
' Farrior v. State, 728 So.2d 691, 696
(Ala.Crim.App. 1998), quoting Ward v. State, 557
So.2d 848, 850 (Ala.Crim.App. 1990). 'The role of
appellate courts is not to say what the facts are. Our role
... is to judge whether the evidence is legally sufficient to
allow submission of an issue for decision [by] the jury.'
Ex parte Bankston, 358 So.2d 1040, 1042 (Ala. 1978).
" 'The trial court's denial of a motion for
judgment of acquittal must be reviewed by determining whether
there was legal evidence before the jury at the time the
motion was made from which the jury by fair inference could
find the defendant guilty. Thomas v. State, 363
So.2d 1020 (Ala. Cr. App. 1978). In applying this standard,
this court will determine only if legal evidence was
presented from which the jury could have found the defendant
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Willis v. State,
447 So.2d 199 (Ala. Cr. App. 1983). When the evidence raises
questions of fact for the
jury and such evidence, if believed, is sufficient to sustain
a conviction, the denial of a motion for judgment of
acquittal does not constitute error. McConnell v.
State, 429 So.2d 662 (Ala. Cr. App. 1983).'"
Gavin v. State, 891 So.2d 907, 974 (Ala.Crim.App.
2003), cert. denied, 891 So.2d 998 (Ala. 2004)(quoting
Ward v. State, 610 So.2d 1190, 1191 (Ala.Crim.App.
" '" Circumstantial evidence alone is enough to
support a guilty verdict of the most heinous crime, provided
the jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused
is guilty." White v. State, 294 Ala. 265, 272,
314 So.2d 857, cert. denied, 423 U.S. 951, 96 S.Ct. 373, 46
L.Ed.2d 288 (1975). " Circumstantial evidence is in
nowise considered inferior evidence and is entitled to the
same weight as direct evidence provided it points to the
guilt of the accused." Cochran v. State, 500
So.2d 1161, 1177 (Ala. Cr. App. 1984), affirmed in pertinent
part, reversed in part on other grounds, Ex parte
Cochran, 500 So.2d 1179 (Ala. 1985).'"
Hollaway v. State, 979 So.2d 839, 843 (Ala.Crim.App.
2007)(quoting White v. State, 546 So.2d 1014, 1017
" 'In reviewing a conviction based on circumstantial
evidence, this court must view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution. The test to be applied is
whether the jury might reasonably find that the evidence
excluded every reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt;
not whether such evidence excludes every reasonable
hypothesis but guilt, but whether a jury might reasonably so
conclude. United States v. Black, 497 F.2d 1039 (5th
Cir. 1974); United States v. McGlamory, 441 F.2d 130
(5th Cir. 1971); Clark v. United States, 293 F.2d
445 (5th Cir. 1961).'"
Bradford v. State, 948 So.2d 574, 578-79
(Ala.Crim.App. 2006)(quoting Cumbo v. State, 368
So.2d 871, 874-75 (Ala.Crim.App. 1978)).
person commits murder if " [w]ith intent to cause the
death of another person, he causes the death of that
person." § 13A-6-2(a)(1), Ala. Code 1975. With
regard to the intent element, this court has stated:
" Normally there is no direct evidence of intent.
'" 'Intent, we know, being a state or condition
of the mind, is rarely, if ever, susceptible of direct or
positive proof, and must usually be inferred from the facts
testified to by witnesses and the circumstances as developed
by the evidence.'" Ex parte C.G., 841 So.2d
292, 301 (Ala. 2002), quoting Pumphrey v. State, 156
Ala. 103, 106, 47 So. 156, 157 (1908).'"
Brown v. State, 11 So.3d 866, 914 (Ala. Crim. App
2007). " 'The question of intent is hardly ever
capable of direct proof. Such questions are normally
questions for the jury.'" 11 So.3d at 914 (quoting
Payne v. State, 946 So.2d 930, 935 (2006)(other
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
State, we find that the evidence presented at trial, albeit
circumstantial, was sufficient to establish a prima facie
case of murder. The evidence presented at trial indicated
that Chambers knew the Ezells and that he had free access to
the Ezells' house. Roy Ezell telephoned Chambers numerous
times immediately before the murders. At the time the
Ezells' bodies were found, the door to the Ezells'
house was locked. Testimony indicated that the door could be
locked only from the outside with a key. Once inside,
officers observed Sherley Ezell lying face down in the
doorway and Roy Ezell also lying face down in the house. Both
sustained blunt-force trauma
consistent with having been struck by a baseball bat.
processing the scene, officers discovered the fingertip of a
latex glove under Roy Ezell's body that contained a
mixture of blood; tests indicated the presence of Roy's
blood and that of another person. Forensic testing
subsequently indicated a 1 in ...