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.

Payton v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

May 24, 2019

William Lewis Payton
v.
State of Alabama

          Appeal from Madison Circuit Court (CC-16-2866)

         On Application for Rehearing

          McCOOL, Judge.

         This Court's unpublished memorandum of March 1, 2019, is withdrawn, and the following opinion is substituted therefor.

         William Lewis Payton was convicted of abuse of a corpse, a violation of § 13A-11-13, Ala. Code 1975, and was sentenced, as a habitual felony offender, see § 13A-5-9, Ala. Code 1975, to 40 years' imprisonment. Payton appealed. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The relevant facts of this case are undisputed. In the early morning hours of October 16, 2015, the dismembered corpse of Tonya Amerson was discovered in a cardboard box with a "U-haul" logo behind a shopping center in Huntsville. Chris Hines, an investigator with the Huntsville Police Department who responded to the scene, testified that Amerson's "arms were cut off near the shoulder and the body was cut right above the pelvis clean in two" (R. 125), and "the body parts ... had been ... placed in garbage bags," along with "a couple of kitchen knives." (R. 126.) After identifying Amerson, Hines began "looking for the last known addresses for ... Amerson" and "came up with a couple of addresses for her." (R. 127.) Those addresses included Payton's apartment, which was the address on Amerson's driver's license, and Amerson's parents' house. In an attempt to notify Amerson's family of her death, Hines first went to Payton's apartment but received no response when he knocked on the door. Thereafter, Hines went to Amerson's parents' address and spoke with Amerson's parents. According to Hines, during that conversation Amerson's parents told him that, one week earlier, they were "informed by [Amerson] that [Amerson] would be staying at [Payton's] apartment." (R. 12.) Amerson's parents also told Hines that "there were [three] children involved[, i.e., that Payton and Amerson had three children together, ] and there were supposed to be children at [Payton's] apartment." Id. Although Hines could not recall the children's ages by the time of trial, he testified that he "kn[e]w some were quite young" and that, at that time, he had no knowledge of the children's whereabouts. (R. 18.) Thus, Hines testified:

"At that point, I made contact with my supervisor ... and informed them that there are children involved. That we don't know where the location of the children are.
"At that time we __ during our discussions, we agreed that it would probably be the safe bet to check the apartment and make sure there is nobody else injured or needing any type of medical attention inside the apartment."

(R. 13.)

         At some point after that conversation, another investigator from the Huntsville Police Department attempted to locate Payton at Payton's place of employment. However, Payton was not there and "actually had a paycheck there and had not picked it up at that time." (R. 21.) Thereafter, Hines and other police officers, including Officer Kevin Newie, reported to Payton's apartment. After "knock[ing] and announc[ing] 'Police, '" the officers forced entry into the apartment. (R. 22.) Hines did not enter Payton's apartment but remained outside the front door. As to what occurred after the officers entered the apartment, Hines testified:

"Q. Can you describe what Officer Newie discovered?
"A. Officer Newie explained that he went upstairs. He went to look under the bed to make sure nobody was under there. When he knelt down there he come up with a wet spot on his knee. He looked over and saw a wet-dry vacuum cleaner, carpet cleaner. And then he looked over to the side of the bed and noticed what appeared to be blood on the sides of the bed.
"Q. What did Officer Newie do at that point?
"A. He came down and explained to me what he discovered. At that time, I told him to back out. We need to get a search warrant.
"Q. At that time, did you obtain a search warrant?
"A. I did.
"Q. And pursuant to that search warrant, you did a search of the apartment which produced all of the evidence ...

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.