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Weatherford v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

September 8, 2017

Zachary Wayne Weatherford
v.
State of Alabama

         Appeal from Madison Circuit Court (CC-15-4058.70)

          WELCH, JUDGE.

         Zachary Wayne Weatherford appeals the revocation of his probation by the Madison Circuit Court. On February 4, 2016, Weatherford was convicted of the unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance in the second degree. See § 13A-12-217, Ala. Code 1975. He was sentenced to 60 months in prison. His sentence was suspended, and Weatherford was placed on three years' probation. On February 24, 2017, Probation Officer Rachel Murrill filed a delinquency report alleging that Weatherford had violated the terms and conditions of his probation by committing the new offense of first-degree kidnapping[1] and by failing to avoid injurious or vicious habits.

         The trial court held a probation-revocation hearing at which the State presented testimony from two witnesses: Investigator Gary Gilbert of the Huntsville Police Department and Probation Officer Murrill. Inv. Gilbert testified that he was contacted regarding an assault victim at the Madison Hospital emergency room. When he arrived at the hospital, he saw Erica Green Barnes. She had scratches on the right side of her temple and swelling around her left eye. Inv. Gilbert testified that the left side of Barnes's head near her hairline was swollen and that she had a "busted lip and ligature marks around her ankles." (R. 7.) Inv. Gilbert testified that Barnes told him that

"[s]he had recently got back together with the ex-boyfriend, Mr. Weatherford, even though they had a prior domestic violence incident back on Black Friday of last year.
"The last few days they had been riding around. She said Mr. Weatherford was on a high from methamphetamine and they had been traveling back and forth from that address on Ryland Pike in Madison County back to Huntsville.
"Earlier in the day, about the last four hours, they were riding around the back roads in his pickup truck. He made statements that he would kill her because she no longer wanted to be in a relationship with him.
"He asked her how she would like to die, it could be by overdose, stab her, run her over with his truck.
"He bound her feet together with a phone charger cord and was stabbing the seat of the truck with a knife.
"She recalls seeing street signs on Wall Triana, County Line Road, which that puts her in the Huntsville City limits is the area we have there.
"They eventually stopped at Fuel City on Swancot Road and she said Mr. Weatherford kind of dozed off, fell asleep. She got the knife and cut the cord from around her ankles and ran into the store.
"I was able to view the video from the store. It does show a gold F150 pickup pull up to the pumps and sits there for about 10 or 15 minutes.
"A female gets out of the passenger's side and runs inside the store. A male gets out of the truck and then gets back in the truck and drives off."

(R. 8-9.) Inv. Gilbert could not tell from the video whether Weatherford was the male in the video.

         Officer Murrill testified that she was informed of the allegation and contacted Weatherford "to try and see what was going on and see if he would come and talk to [her] about it and explain it." (R. 15.) Weatherford told her that "he got into an argument with Miss Barnes and that he slapped her but that it would be at most an assault third charge." (R. 16.) Weatherford stated that Barnes may have hit him back.

         Following the testimony, defense counsel argued that the evidence was insufficient because, he said, the only evidence connecting Weatherford to the offense was hearsay. After hearing arguments from both parties, the circuit court stated:

"And this is the way I see this case, you have the statement of the victim, which is entirely hearsay.
"The officer has corroborated that when he interviewed the victim finding the exact types of multiple injuries -- this is not just standard injuries, but all kinds of different injuries to her that he can physically see which corroborate the testimony that she ...

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