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Collins v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

July 13, 2018

Sherman Collins
v.
State of Alabama

          Appeal from Sumter Circuit Court (CC-12-109)

         On Return to Remand

          WELCH, Judge.

         The appellant, Sherman Collins, was convicted of murdering Detrick Bell for pecuniary gain, an offense defined as capital by § 13A-5-40(a)(7), Ala. Code 1975, and conspiracy to commit murder, see § 13A-4-3, Ala. Code 1975. The jury recommended, by a vote of 10 to 2, that Collins be sentenced to death. The circuit court sentenced Collins to death for the capital-murder conviction and to 120 months' imprisonment for the conspiracy conviction. (C. 407.) Collins appealed. By opinion issued October 13, 2017, this Court affirmed Collins's convictions and remanded the case to the circuit court for that court to correct its sentencing order to comply with the provisions of former § 13A-5-47(d), Ala. Code 1975, i.e., to enter a sentencing order in which the court makes specific findings of fact concerning the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and summarizing the offense and Collins's involvement in it.[1] See Collins v. State, [Ms. CR-14-0753, October 13, 2017] ___ So.3d ___ (Ala.Crim.App.2017). The circuit court has filed its amended sentencing order with this Court. The parties have also filed briefs on return to remand. We consider the issues raised in Collins's brief on return to remand.

         Sentencing Order

         In its order on return to remand sentencing Collins to death, the circuit court found one aggravating circumstance -- that the murder was committed for "pecuniary or other valuable consideration or pursuant to a contract or for hire." See § 13A-5-49(6), Ala. Code 1975. The circuit court made the following findings of fact:

"The evidence revealed that the defendant, Sherman Collins, was from New Orleans, Louisiana, and he came to Sumter County, Alabama with his girlfriend, Angela Jackson, her mother and her children to visit her sister, Keon Jackson, for Father's day. Keon Jackson was the girlfriend of Kelvin Wrenn and she lived with him in the Morning Star Community. Angela Jackson testified that she visited her sister, Keon Jackson, approximately four (4) times in Sumter County, Alabama. The evidence revealed defendant, Sherman Collins, had accompanied Angela Jackson when she came to visit Keon Jackson at Kelvin Wrenn's home at least on one (1) occasion. The evidence further revealed that defendant, Sherman Collins, visited Keon Jackson and Kelvin Wrenn in Sumter County, Alabama. In addition, the evidence further revealed Keon Jackson and Kelvin Wrenn would visit Angela Jackson and defendant, Sherman Collins, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"On the night of the offense, defendant Collins rode to [a] rap concert with Wrenn in Wrenn's car. The testimony revealed Wrenn gave defendant Collins two (2) hand guns, a large Magnum and a small .22 pistol. The big Magnum was used to kill Detrick Bell.
"As stated in the factual background, Detrick Bell and Terrod Sturdivant went to the Morning Star Community Center to the same rap concert attended by defendant Sherman Collins and Kelvin Wrenn. While defendant Collins, Wrenn, Sturdivant and Bell were in the concert Sturdivant received a phone call and walked outside of the building. Detrick Bell followed Sturdivant outside, along with several other individuals including defendant Sherman Collins and Grant Kimbrough. Kimbrough introduced defendant Collins to Bell and the two shook hands. As Sturdivant walked away four or five steps to answer his phone, without any provocation, defendant Collins shot a big part of Detrick Bell's head off and calmly walked away from the Morning Star Community Center. Under these circumstances, a fact-finder can reasonably conclude this was an intentional killing for pecuniary or other valuable consider or for hire. The evidence supports this conclusion. In addition, the statement of defendant, Sherman Collins, stated: 'Kelvin and I was getting ready to go to a rap concert and he was telling me about a man named Speedy (Detrick Bell) that robbed his brother. Kelvin told me that he would give me two thousand dollars to kill Speedy (Detrick Bell). Therefore, there is no doubt that this was a killing for pecuniary or other valuable consideration or hire.'"

(Return to Remand, C.R. 2-4.)

         The circuit court found that no statutory mitigating circumstances contained in § 13A-5-51(1), Ala. Code 1975, applied in Collins's case. The court then stated:

"The Court will now address the evidence presented by [Collins] as mitigation evidence that is nonstatutory evidence. The defendant, Sherman Collins, was born to a single parent on June 26, 1976. The evidence indicated there was never a father in the house; however, his brother, Elvin Collins, practically raised [Collins].
"The evidence revealed defendant Collins was a smart child, who was funny and wanted to learn. Defendant Collins did well in school because his brother, Elvin, encouraged him and rewarded him for doing well. The evidence further indicated Elvin taught defendant Collins how to write his name at age two, ride a bike and throw a football. Defendant Collins played high school football and basketball. After graduation, Elvin Collins moved to California for approximately a year and a half. Elvin Collins indicated when he returned, he never got back in touch with Defendant, Sherman Collins. The testimony presented showed that defendant Collins, after graduation, started with 'bad friends and made bad decisions.'
"The defense counsel provided mitigation evidence that defendant Collins grew up in a really poor environment called the Melpomene Housing Project. Yet, [Collins] was able to make it through high school as an honor student and a two-sport athlete. [Collins] received assistance from his friend and cousin, Fred Stemley, who testified, that defendant ...

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