Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Carroll v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

December 15, 2017

Taurus Jermaine Carroll
v.
State of Alabama

         Appeal from St. Clair Circuit Court (CC-09-242)

         On Remand from the Supreme Court of the United States

          WINDOM, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Taurus Jermaine Carroll's cause is before this Court on remand from the Supreme Court of the United States. Carroll was convicted of two counts of capital murder for intentionally taking the life of Michael Turner after having been convicted of another murder within the preceding 20 years, see § 13A-5-40(a)(13), Ala. Code 1975, and for intentionally taking the life of Turner while Carroll was under a sentence of life in prison, see § 13A-5-40(a)(6), Ala. Code 1975. Carroll was sentenced to death for each capital-murder conviction. On August 14, 2015, a majority of this Court affirmed Carroll's capital-murder convictions and sentences of death.[1] See, Carroll v. State, 215 So.3d 1135 (Ala.Crim.App.2015).

         At trial and on appeal, Carroll argued, among other things, that he was exempt from a sentence of death under the Supreme Court's holding in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), because he is intellectually disabled.[2] In Atkins, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the execution of intellectually-disabled capital offenders violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. The Court, however, declined to establish a national standard for determining whether a capital offender is intellectually disabled and, instead, left to the States "'the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce the constitutional restriction upon [their] execution of sentences.'" Id. at 317 (quoting Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399, 416-17 (1986)). The Alabama Legislature has not yet established a method for determining whether a capital defendant is intellectually disabled and, thus, ineligible for a sentence of death. "However, the Alabama Supreme Court, in Ex parte Perkins, 851 So.2d 453 (Ala. 2002), adopted the most liberal definition of [intellectual disability] as defined by those states that have legislation barring the execution of a[n] [intellectually disabled] individual." Byrd v. State, 78 So.3d 445, 450 (Ala.Crim.App.2009) (citations and quotations omitted); see also Smith v. State, 213 So.3d 239, 248 (Ala. 2007) ("Until the legislature defines [intellectually disabled] for purposes of applying Atkins, this Court is obligated to continue to operate under the criteria set forth in Ex parte Perkins."). Under Ex parte Perkins, "to be considered [intellectually disabled, a capital defendant] must have significantly subaverage intellectual functioning (an IQ of 70 or below), and significant or substantial deficits in adaptive behavior." Ex parte Perkins, 851 So.2d at 456; see also Atkins, 536 U.S. at 321 n.5.; Holladay v. Allen, 555 F.3d 1346, 1353 (11th Cir. 2009) ("According to literature in the field, significant or substantial deficits in adaptive behavior are defined as 'concurrent deficits or impairments in present adaptive functioning in at least two of the following skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health and safety.' American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 39 (4th ed. 1994)."). Further, "these [two deficits] must have manifested themselves during the developmental period (i.e., before the defendant reached age 18)." Ex parte Perkins, 851 So.2d at 456; Brownlee v. Haley, 306 F.3d 1043, 1073 (11th Cir. 2002) (recognizing that intellectual disability generally requires a showing of an IQ of 70 or below, significant limitations in adaptive skills, and the manifestation of these 2 deficits during the developmental years). "Therefore, in order for an offender to be considered [intellectually disabled] in the Atkins context, the offender must currently exhibit subaverage intellectual functioning, currently exhibit deficits in adaptive behavior, and these problems must have manifested themselves before the age of 18." Smith v. State, 213 So.3d 239, 248 (Ala. 2007); see also Byrd, 78 So.3d at 450 (same); cf. Ex parte Perkins, 851 So.2d at 456 (holding that Perkins was not intellectually disabled because, among other reasons, Perkins's full-score adult IQ was 76).

         "'In the context of an Atkins claim, the defendant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is [intellectually disabled].'" Byrd, 78 So.3d at 450 (quoting Smith, 213 So.3d at 252). "The question of [whether a capital defendant is intellectually disabled] is a factual one, and as such, it is the function of the factfinder, not this Court, to determine the weight that should be accorded to expert testimony of that issue." Byrd, 78 So.3d at 450 (citations and quotations omitted). As the Alabama Supreme Court has explained, questions regarding the weight and credibility of evidence are better left to the circuit courts, "'which [have] the opportunity to personally observe the witnesses and assess their credibility.'" Smith v. State, 213 So.3d at 253 (quoting Smith v. State, 213 So.3d 226, 239 (Ala.Crim.App.2003) (Shaw, J., dissenting) (opinion on return to third remand)). "This court reviews the circuit court's findings of fact for an abuse of discretion." Byrd, 78 So.3d at 450 (citing Snowden v. State, 968 So.2d 1004, 1012 (Ala.Crim.App.2006)). "'"'"A judge abuses his discretion only when his decision is based on an erroneous conclusion of law or where the record contains no evidence on which he rationally could have based his decision."'"'" Byrd, 78 So.3d at 450-51 (quoting Hodges v. State, 926 So.2d 1060, 1072 (Ala.Crim.App.2005), quoting in turn State v. Jude, 686 So.2d 528, 530 (Ala.Crim.App.1996), quoting in turn Dowdy v. Gilbert Eng'g Co., 372 So.2d 11, 12 (Ala. 1979), quoting in turn Premium Serv. Corp. v. Sperry & Hutchinson, Co., 511 F.2d 225 (9th Cir. 1975)).

         On August 14, 2015, this Court applied these principles and held that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by rejecting Carroll's assertion that he was intellectually disabled. Carroll v. State, 215 So.3d 1135, 1147-53 (Ala.Crim.App.2015). On March 28, 2017, well after this Court had decided Carroll, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Moore v. Texas, U.S., 137 S.Ct. 1039, 1044 (2017), which held that the Texas Court of Appeals had erroneously ignored prevailing medical standards and applied its own definition of intellectually disabled to determine that a death-row inmate was not exempt from the death penalty under Atkins. On May 1, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States vacated this Court's decision in Carroll and remanded the cause for further consideration in light of Moore.

         In Moore, the Supreme Court reiterated that the

"generally accepted, uncontroversial intellectual-disability diagnostic definition, ... identifies three core elements: (1) intellectual-functioning deficits (indicated by an IQ score 'approximately two standard deviations below the mean' -- i.e., a score of roughly 70 --adjusted for 'the standard error of measurement, ' AAIDD-11, at 27); (2) adaptive deficits ('the inability to learn basic skills and adjust behavior to changing circumstances, ' Hall v. Florida, 572 U.S.__, __, [134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986, 1994, 188 L.Ed.2d 1007] (2014)); and (3) the onset of these deficits while still a minor. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 150a (citing AAIDD-11, at 1). See also Hall, 572 U.S., at __[, 134 S.Ct., at 1993-1994].

Moore, __U.S. at__, 137 S.Ct. at 1045. The Court went on to explain that, "[a]lthough [it] left to the States 'the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce' the restriction on executing the intellectually disabled, 572 U.S., at __[, 134 S.Ct. at 1998] (quoting Atkins, 536 U.S. at 317), States' discretion, ... is not 'unfettered, ' 572 U.S., at __[, 134 S.Ct. at 1998]." Moore, __U.S. at __137 S.Ct. at 1048. Rather, "the determination must be 'informed by the medical community's diagnostic framework.'" Id. (quoting Hall, 572 U.S.__, 134 S.Ct. at 2000).

         The Court held that, consistent with the "medical community's diagnostic framework, " courts tasked with determining whether a defendant exhibits intellectual-functioning deficits must consider the "standard error or measurement." Moore, U.S. at, 137 S.Ct. at 1049. To that end, the Court,

"instructs that, where an IQ score is close to, but above, 70, courts must account for the test's 'standard error of measurement.' See [Hall], at 134 S.Ct., at 1995, 2001. See also Brumfield v. Cain, 576 U.S.__, __[, 135 S.Ct. 2269, 2278, 192 L.Ed.2d 356] (2015) (relying on Hall to find unreasonable a state court's conclusion that a score of 75 precluded an intellectual-disability finding). As we explained in Hall, the standard error of measurement is 'a statistical fact, a reflection of the inherent imprecision of the test itself.' 572 U.S., at __[, 134 S.Ct., at 1995]. 'For purposes of most IQ tests, ' this imprecision in the testing instrument 'means that an individual's score is best understood as a range of scores on either side of the recorded score ... within which one may say an individual's true IQ score lies.' Id., at __[, 134 S.Ct., at 1995]. A test's standard error of measurement 'reflects the reality that an individual's intellectual functioning cannot be reduced to a single numerical score.' Ibid. See also id., at __-__[, 134 S.Ct., at 1995]; DSM-5, at 37; AAIDD, User's Guide: Intellectual Disability: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports 22-23 (11th ed. 2012) (hereinafter AAIDD-11 User's Guide)."

Moore, __U.S. at__, 137 S.Ct. at 1049. Thus, with a standard error of measurement of 5, an IQ "score of 74, adjusted for the standard error of measurement, yields a range of 69 to 79." Moore, 137 S.Ct. at 1049. "Because the lower end of [the] score range falls at or below 70, [courts must] move on to consider ... adaptive functioning." Id.

         Regarding adaptive functioning, the Court held that States may not adopt factors that reflect "superseded medical standards" or that substantially deviate from prevailing clinical standards. See Id. at, 1050. For instance, courts should ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.