Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Clearwater County. Hon. Andrew Schwam, District Judge. Appeal from conviction of first degree murder by torture and sentence of death imposed thereon. Affirmed.
Bakes, Justice. Donaldson, C.j., and Shepard, J., concur. Huntley, Justice, Concurring specially. Bistline, Justice, Dissenting.
Appellant was convicted of first degree murder by torture for the beating death of a three year old boy, the son of his live-in girlfriend. He was sentenced to death. He appeals both his conviction and his sentence. We affirm.
Appellant and Kathy Miller, the mother of the deceased victim, Robert Miller, met in August, 1980, began dating, and subsequently moved in together on September 20, 1980. Robert Miller was at that time two years old, and he lived with appellant and his mother. Appellant then assumed control over Robert. At that time the child was not yet toilet trained, and much of the punishment imposed upon the child dealt with this problem.
Appellant was a very dominant person and often critical of others in his presence. He was a strict disciplinarian who required almost adult behavior from Robert over the course of their relationship. Appellant and Kathy Miller often argued about his treatment of Robert, and Ms. Miller moved out of the premises several times after her child had been bruised and beaten by the defendant.
In the spring and summer of 1981, appellant assumed primary control over Robert, feeding, clothing and caring for him. Robert often accompanied appellant to his place of business.
In late summer and early fall of 1981, appellant and Ms. Miller began sharing the management duties at a small tavern near Orofino. Appellant and Ms. Miller would work separate shifts, with Miller working during the day and appellant working at night. Each would take care of Robert while the other was working.
In October of 1980, there suddenly appeared bruises and blisters on Robert's backside. In November of 1980, Robert had bruises across his forehead and a black eye. Later in November, Robert sustained a torn and cut ear. Various explanations were given by appellant for these injuries, including a spanking with a stick for the backside bruises, and a tricycle collision for the black eye. After the torn ear appeared, Ms. Miller moved out because of the injuries to her son. Appellant later apologized and convinced Miller to move
back in. Ms. Miller apparently moved in and out several times, at least some of which moves resulted from the force used in Robert's discipline.
In March Robert's bottom, up to the middle of his back, was covered with bruises, which the defendant claimed resulted from a fall in the shower. In April, Robert had bruises on his chin. Robert had little round bruises on his chest in November of 1980 and September of 1981. These bruises appeared because of appellant's habit of jabbing him in the chest with a finger while scolding him.
Appellant had other unique requirements. He attempted to teach Robert, a two year old, table manners, requiring that Robert learn to properly use his fork (pick it up with the left hand, transfer it to the right hand, etc.) and use his napkin to wipe his mouth after every bite. If Robert failed to perform correctly, he was often made to stand in a corner. Other requirements of Robert were that he look only at his plate, and replace his fork on the table after every bite. Appellant demanded these movements of Robert while failing to follow them himself. At one time appellant hit Robert on the hand with his fork when he picked up the fork with the wrong hand.
There were two behaviors exhibited by Robert that appellant punished in particular. One was "boobing", roughly translated as pouting or sulking. The other was wetting his pants. After Robert would wet his pants or exhibit any other unacceptable behavior, he would be given a cold shower from which he would emerge shaking with cold and blue lips.
In May of 1981, Robert's penis was darkly bruised on the top and bottom. There was no explanation for this injury. Also in May Robert's bottom and head were bruised and scratched. Appellant explained that Robert fell because the toilet seat broke when he sat on it. Also in May, a silver dollar size patch of hair was discovered as missing from Robert's head. In early spring Robert complained of a hurt left arm, although no visible marks were seen.
On September 19, 1981, Ms. Miller was working the day shift at the tavern with appellant caring for Robert. Appellant gave his version of the events of that day at trial -- the only version available, since appellant and Robert were alone during the day. Robert spent two hours at a friend's house, where appellant picked him up and took him home. He attempted to feed him lunch, but Robert refused to eat. According to appellant, he then began poking Robert in the chest as punishment. He then struck him in the chest with his fist, swatted him and directed him to eat. Robert then proceeded to eat with no complaints. After Robert finished eating, he was put down for a nap. According to appellant he later went to check on him and found that Robert had vomited on the bed. Appellant then bathed Robert and put him back down. However, he then noticed that Robert's breathing was unusual. Appellant testified that at this point Robert was still alive. He attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and Robert again vomited. Appellant then purportedly rushed Robert to the hospital. Robert was dead on arrival. Emergency room personnel noted that Robert's body was cold, indicating the possibility that he had been dead for longer than appellant's testimony would indicate.
An autopsy was conducted upon Robert, which disclosed the cause of death as internal hemorrhaging caused by the rupture of the liver. The pathologist felt that this rupture was caused by more than one blow; however, he admitted that a well placed single blow could have caused the rupture. The pathologist also testified that death would have occurred between one and one and a half hours after such an injury, contradicting appellant's testimony concerning the time frame of events of the afternoon. A number of bruises were found on the victim's body, both internal and external. These bruises were of differing ages. In addition, Robert had suffered a subdural hematoma in the head region, which the pathologist testified would have been caused only by a fair amount of blunt trauma to the head. Also, X-rays taken of
Robert indicated that he had suffered a broken left arm several months before the date of death.
Appellant was arrested and charged with first degree murder by torture. Because of extensive publicity, he asked for a change of venue from the Orofino area to a venue outside the circulation area of the Lewiston Morning Tribune, the paper responsible for most of the publicity. The trial court later agreed to change venue, but instead of changing it outside the circulation of the Lewiston Morning Tribune, the trial Judge changed venue to Moscow. In addition, the trial court refused to sequester the jury at trial.
Appellant filed a motion in limine prior to trial in an attempt to exclude possible evidence to be presented by appellant's former wives and girlfriends indicating appellant's mistreatment of them. All of those witnesses were eventually allowed to testify, and their testimony indicated that appellant had inflicted continuous physical abuse on them as he had upon Robert Miller. All of this testimony allegedly supported the prosecution's theory that appellant's treatment of Robert did not indicate an intent to discipline, but rather indicated an intent to control the victim and inflict pain in order to cause suffering, the intent which is necessary under the murder by torture statutes.
After a jury trial, appellant was found guilty of murder by torture in the first degree. After an aggravation/mitigation hearing, and the submission of findings of the trial court in considering the death penalty, appellant was sentenced to death.
Appellant asserts numerous reasons why this Court should overturn his conviction, his sentence, or both. He alleges that (1) there was insufficient evidence to warrant a jury instruction and verdict based on first degree murder by torture, or that a jury instruction on second degree murder by torture should have been given; (2) the trial court erred in denying the motion in limine, and erred in failing to rule on the motion prior to trial; (3) the trial court erred in moving the venue of the trial to a site still within the circulation area of the source of prejudicial pretrial publicity; (4) he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial; (5) his sentence was unconstitutionally imposed either because of the vagueness of the aggravating circumstances relied upon or the failure to use a jury in the sentencing process; and (6) the sentence imposed in this case was disproportionate. We will consider the alleged errors in the above order.
The first question presented by appellant is: was there sufficient evidence to warrant a jury instruction and conviction on a murder by torture charge? Basically, appellant argues that the facts of this case do not rise to the level of murder by torture as this type of murder should be defined. We begin our analysis of this question by examining Idaho statutory law outlining the offense of which appellant was convicted.
I.C. § 18-4001 defines murder and includes a death caused by the intentional application of torture. The statute also defines torture in two different ways:
" 18-4001. Murder defined. -- Murder is . . . the intentional application of torture to a human being, which results in the death of a human being. Torture is the intentional infliction of extreme and prolonged pain with the intent to cause suffering. It shall also be torture to inflict on a human being extreme and prolonged acts of brutality irrespective of proof of intent to cause suffering. The death of a human being caused by such torture is murder irrespective of proof of specific intent to kill; torture causing death shall be deemed the equivalent of intent to kill."
I.C. § 18-4003 places murder by torture, as defined in I.C. § 18-4001, in the first degree murder category:
" 18-4003. Degrees of murder. -- (a) All murder which is perpetrated by means of . . . torture, when torture is inflicted with the intent to cause suffering, to execute
vengeance, to extort something from the victim, or to satisfy some sadistic inclination, . . . is murder of the first degree. . . ."
Our extensive research has failed to uncover any Idaho case law dealing with the charge of murder by torture. Thus, with the statutory definition of the crime in mind, we turn to cases from other states with substantially similar statutes to examine further that category of crime which could be considered murder by torture.
Most of the cases considering the murder by torture charge come out of California. Those cases indicate that initially there must be an intent on the part of the defendant that the victim suffer. People v. Caldwell, 43 Cal.2d 864, 279 P.2d 539 (1955). This is also the intent required by our statute. See I.C. § 18-4001. In proving a murder by torture charge, the key item of proof which must be shown by the prosecution is the state of mind of the defendant. People v. Steger, 16 Cal.3d 539, 128 Cal.Rptr. 161, 546 P.2d 665 (1976). However, the intent and state of mind of a defendant may be established by inferences, including inferences drawn from the condition of the decedent's body, State v. Gonzalez, 111 Ariz. 38, 523 P.2d 66 (1974); People v. Wylie, 18 Cal.3d 162, 133 Cal.Rptr. 135, 554 P.2d 881 (1976), the admissions of a defendant as to his or her treatment of the victim, People v. Lawhon, 220 Cal.App.2d 311, 33 Cal.Rptr. 718 (1963), and the acts and circumstances surrounding the killing, People v. Steger, supra. A defendant need not have intended that death occur. People v. Demond, 59 Cal.App.3d 574, 130 Cal.Rptr. 590 (1976); People v. Ross, 92 Cal.App.3d 391, 154 Cal.Rptr. 783 (1979). Many of the cases also require that a specific purpose behind the torturous conduct be shown, generally an untoward purpose such as revenge, persuasion, or extortion. People v. Lawhon, supra. The untoward purpose mentioned can also be the infliction of pain for personal gain or sadistic satisfaction. People v. Steger, supra; People v. Lawhon, supra. It was the latter which the trial court found in this case.
An examination of the cases themselves, and the factual situations involved, is also helpful in determining which situations involve a first degree murder by torture. In People v. Demond, supra, we find a factual situation somewhat similar to that involved in the present case. In Demond, the defendant was living with his girlfriend and her two children. One of the children was a three year old who died only two months after defendant moved in with the family. An examination of the child's body showed bumps and bruises of varying ages all over the body, two black eyes, bruises on the face, a skull fracture, an older fracture of one arm bone, and abdominal injuries. The court in Demond considered the circumstances surrounding the killing as well as the condition of the victim's body. They found that the evidence supported the inference that the defendant had a cold blooded intent to inflict pain for personal gain or satisfaction. They found the defendant's actions strongly suggestive of sadistic impulses. The court also considered the fact that the defendant was in control of his behavior and knew his actions would cause pain, but there remained no showing of heat of passion. From this evidence, the court concluded that a first degree murder by torture conviction was sustained by the evidence.
In People v. Lawhon, supra, the defendant was charged with the murder of his eight month old daughter. The child died of peritonitis, which was caused by the perforation of a bowel, which in turn was caused when the defendant hit the child in the stomach with his fists. Several months prior to the injury which caused death, the baby had suffered a subdural hemorrhage in the brain. There was also evidence of older healing rib fractures. The question before the court was whether there was sufficient evidence to support a first degree murder by torture conviction. The court ruled that intent could be inferred from the condition of the decedent's body and the admissions of the defendant that he hit the decedent. Also, although the court would require an untoward purpose for the torture, it ruled that the purpose
could be to satisfy some sadistic impulse of the defendant. Thus, the court ruled that there was more than sufficient evidence to support the conviction.
In People v. Butler, 205 Cal.App.2d 437, 23 Cal.Rptr. 118 (1962), the defendant was accused of murdering his wife's four year old daughter. At the time of her death, 70-80% of the girl's body was covered with bruises. Doctors also observed hundreds of lacerations on her body. The defendant admitted that he used a bullwhip to discipline the child. The court ruled that intent may be inferred from the condition of the body. In this case, the court ruled that the defendant's brutal treatment of the victim over a period of several months led inevitably to the Conclusion that the defendant intended to cause pain and suffering. Thus, a conviction of first degree murder by torture was justified.[Footnote 1] See also State v. Kountz, 108 Ariz. 459, 501 P.2d 931 (1972) (death of three year old from brain concussion, many bruises on body, more than sufficient evidence to support first degree murder conviction); People v. Aeschlimann, 28 Cal.App.3d 460, 104 Cal.Rptr. 689 (1972) (mother and father both observed to have beaten eleven month old severely before its death, no error in instructing the jury on first degree murder by torture); People v. Seastone, 3 Cal.App.3d 60, 82 Cal.Rptr. 907 (1969) (father committed a "brutal and sadistic killing" of his nine and one-half month old son, court upheld first degree murder by torture as one of theories of conviction); People v. Misquez, 152 Cal.App.2d 471, 313 P.2d 206 (1957) (two and one-half year old girl died from beatings inflicted by mother's live-in boyfriend, "brutal and revolting manner" of killing indicates intent to cause cruel pain and suffering, sufficient evidence to support first degree murder by torture conviction).
We now turn to the facts of this case. The evidence before us, and before the trial court, indicates that the victim in this case suffered numerous injuries at the hands of the defendant over a one year period. Bruises would appear upon the child's body with little or no explanation for their appearance. Appellant demanded behavior out of the child that was nearly impossible for him to achieve, and then "punished" him when he did not achieve it. Evidence presented as to appellant's relationships with others close to him dispelled any possible Conclusion that appellant's treatment of the victim was solely for purposes of discipline. From this evidence of brutal treatment of the victim and appellant's sadistic treatment of others, we conclude that there was more than enough evidence presented to justify a murder by torture instruction to the jury. In addition, there was substantial competent evidence to support the verdict.
Appellant also argues that the statute quoted above, I.C. § 18-4001, and I.C. § 18-4003, should be read to contemplate the existence of a second degree murder by torture offense, and thus the trial court should have instructed the jury on second degree murder pursuant to its duty to instruct on lesser included offenses.[Footnote 2] We note that a second degree murder instruction was given, but a second degree murder by torture instruction was not requested or
given. In addition, we note that appellant's counsel accepted the instructions as given by the court, and noted that he had no objection to the instructions the court intended to give. Thus, any error in failing to instruct on this charge, if indeed one exists, was invited error and will not be considered on appeal. State v. Lopez, 100 Idaho 99, 593 P.2d 1003 (1979).
Appellant alleges error in the trial court's denial of a motion in limine seeking to forbid introduction of evidence concerning appellant's relationships with former wives and girlfriends, and also argues prejudicial error in the trial court's failure to rule on the motion in limine prior to trial.
To obtain a first degree murder by torture conviction, the state is required to prove that the defendant had an intent to cause pain and suffering. In this case, appellant's major defense was that his actions only constituted an overabundance of discipline, without the intent to cause pain and suffering. The state's only chance to refute that defense, other than by showing the severity of the treatment of the victim, would be to introduce other evidence which might tend to show that appellant's treatment of this victim was for purposes other than discipline. In this case, the state presented an abundance of evidence concerning appellant's abuse of other women and their minor children with whom he had lived over a period of ten years. Appellant's treatment of these other persons was substantially similar to appellant's treatment of the victim. Thus, this evidence was relevant to show that appellant had an intent other than that of discipline in his treatment of the victim because he treated other persons close to him in a similar manner. It was also relevant to show appellant's sadistic nature, thus supporting the state's theory that appellant's treatment of the victim was torture, inflicted to satisfy the sadistic inclinations of appellant.
Appellant argues that allowing proof of his relationships with women was error, in that this testimony constituted testimony of prior bad acts of a defendant, which is generally inadmissible. While this evidence is generally inadmissible, if it is introduced to prove certain enumerated elements, such as motive, it is admissible. See State v. Needs, 99 Idaho 883, 591 P.2d 130 (1979); State v. Wrenn, 99 Idaho 506, 584 P.2d 1231 (1978). One element of criminal conduct that can be proved by evidence of prior bad acts is the intent of the defendant. In this case the evidence presented of appellant's prior relationships was introduced for the specific purpose of showing sadistic intent and frame of mind of appellant at the time of the commission of the acts directed toward the victim. Thus, the evidence was admissible under our rule.
In this case, appellant also argues that the prejudicial effect of this evidence outweighs its relevancy, and thus it should have been excluded. In cases where evidence is claimed to be highly prejudicial, a balancing test is conducted where the probative value of the evidence is balanced against the prejudice to the defendant. Here, as we have already discussed, the evidence was relevant to show the intent of appellant in his treatment of the victim. See State v. Sanchez, 94 Idaho 125, 483 P.2d 173 (1971) (in child beating case, evidence of bad acts of defendant, in form of beating of other children, relevant to show defendant's attitude toward children). The evidence tended to support the existence of the intent to cause pain and suffering. The inclusion or exclusion of this type of evidence is a matter for the exercise of the sound discretion of the trial court. State v. Sharp, 101 Idaho 498, 616 P.2d 1034 (1980). The trial court in this case conducted a close analysis of the admissibility of this evidence. The trial court's comments are helpful in examining the issue to determine whether an abuse of discretion occurred.
"THE COURT: . . . In this particular case, the Prosecutor must convince the
trier of the fact that your client was engaged in a course of torture. And produced this child's death, not necessarily intending death but only intending torture. . . . And so this case, to a great extent, is going to turn upon what the jury thinks was going on in your client's mind during that interval when he dealt with this child. And as you yourself have said, the surface evidence indicates an effort to discipline. However, the evidence before me is such that that allegation or implication, I should say, of discipline is very questionable. . . . I think that the intent is not clear at this time. If I felt the intent was overwhelmingly clear in either direction -- in other words, that either the Prosecutor had failed or had totally succeeded to demonstrate his case at this point I would probably be very hesitant to allow evidence of past behavior which will in fact be prejudicial to this case. But I feel in fact what we have is an unclear situation and I think that the evidence of these other women in your client's life does bear directly on the underlying state of mind he has while he's acting with respect to this boy.
"I am convinced from reading the preliminary hearing transcript that the Prosecutor's assertion that he feels he can prove to a trier of the fact that your client simply needs someone to torture, something like a whipping board, for his own pleasure is actually something that he may in fact be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . And I think the Prosecutor . . . should have the opportunity to prove the state of mind he alleges your client to have and that in fact it became this child's role to do the suffering for the benefit of your client. . . . I think he has the evidence that might allow the trier of the fact to conclude that beyond a reasonable doubt that that is what's going on with your client. ". . . It is unfortunate for your client that his reprehensible acts show the status of the mind in dealing with this child. And as prejudicial as they will be, I think giving the status of the law on Prosecutor's proving death by torture that the Prosecutor does have to show very clearly this was not a discipline situation. That the intent was in fact to torture. . . . So as reluctant as I am to go into these matters and as much as I understand they will lengthen these proceedings as well as possibly prejudice the jury against your client, I think I would in effect be depriving the State of highly relevant evidence which is so relevant that it overcomes any prejudicial effect it might have in terms of its being admissible."
We see no abuse of discretion in the trial court's handling of the admission of this evidence.
Appellant also argues that the trial court erred in failing to rule before trial on the motion in limine. Although there has been no showing of how appellant was prejudiced by this failure, we have nevertheless examined the record to determine if the trial court's handling of this motion was proper. The trial court indicated his ruling on the motion in limine in a hearing on July 15, 1982.
"THE COURT: . . . It's not possible for me to pick and choose particular items in that transcript that I would not allow in the trial. It's only possible for me to give the defense and the State an accurate impression of what my likely behavior will be at the trial in ruling on the evidentiary questions that will surely come up. . . . But I am prepared to tell you that, first, I see the Prosecutor having a burden to demonstrate the motive that your client had in any actions the Prosecutor is going to prove that he took with respect to beating this child. And that in proving that motive it is possible that all of the Preliminary Hearing evidence may prove relevant and admissible. . . . I'm going to require the Prosecutor to first demonstrate that a crime of some kind has been committed. That justifies the trial at all. And, then, require the Prosecutor to try and demonstrate
a motive for the behavior of your client. As he begins to get into the evidence that relates to the motive, some of which comes just from the acts for which your client is specifically charged, then, it becomes possible for me and only then to determine how much additional evidence he has a right to present either to overcome any testimony you may produce, which places motive in question, or to overcome or meet the burden he has to prove the motive beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the intent is obviously a crucial element of this torture allegation."
Admission of this evidence was within the discretion of the trial court, and thus it was also within the discretion of the trial court to indicate its decision in a ruling prior to trial, or during trial when the evidence was introduced. We see no abuse of discretion in the trial court's handling of this motion, and in fact approve of the way the motion was handled. Both parties were specifically informed of the strict requirements imposed by the trial court for introduction of this evidence. The prosecution was held to a strict order of proof, and the defense was notified that if the strict order of proof was followed the trial court felt that at least most of the evidence would be admissible because its relevance would outweigh the prejudicial effect on the defendant. There was no error.
In this case appellant argues that there was error in the place of venue chosen for trial, in that the site chosen after the trial court granted defendant's motion for change of venue was a site still within the circulation area of the Lewiston Morning Tribune, the source of a majority of the pretrial publicity which appellant claims was prejudicial. We have many times outlined the rules upon which we will base our review of the trial court's ruling on change of venue motions. We see no reason for departing from those rules merely because the change of venue motion in this case was granted, but venue moved to a place unacceptable to appellant. As we have noted many times, where the defendant actually received a fair trial and there was no difficulty experienced in selecting a jury, a refusal to grant a change of venue is not grounds for reversal. State v. Thomas, 94 Idaho 430, 489 P.2d 1310 (1971); State v. Cypher, 92 Idaho 159, 438 P.2d 904 (1968); State v. McKeehan, 91 Idaho 808, 430 P.2d 886 (1967). This same rule would apply where the trial court failed to move the trial to a venue acceptable to appellant. Factors this Court will consider in determining whether a fair trial was received include testimony of jurors at voir dire as to whether they formed an opinion on guilt or innocence based upon adverse pretrial publicity, whether the defendant challenged for cause any of the jurors finally selected, the nature and content of the pretrial publicity, and the amount of time between the publicity and the trial itself. State v. Needs, 99 Idaho 883, 591 P.2d 130 (1979); see also State v. Bainbridge, 108 Idaho 273, 698 P.2d 335 (1985). In this case a majority of the jurors who actually sat on the jury had heard about the case, but knew very little about it. In fact, most indicated they knew only that it was a controversial Orofino murder case and had heard about it by a friend mentioning that the case was transferred to Moscow for the trial after the subject of jury duty arose. All of them indicated that they had formed no opinion on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. One of the actual jurors was challenged for cause by the defendant, but after further questioning by the court, the defendant withdrew his objection to that juror. After the exercise of only twelve peremptory challenges,[Footnote 3] the jury was finally accepted by both the state and the defense. There is nothing in this record to indicate that the defendant did not receive a fair trial, or that there
was any difficulty in selecting a jury. Thus, we see no error in the refusal of the trial court to change the venue of the trial to a place acceptable to appellant.
Appellant also argues that the failure of the trial court to move the trial out of the circulation area of the Tribune was exacerbated by the failure of the trial court to sequester the jury. I.C. § 19-2126 now leaves within the discretion of the trial court the decision on whether a jury should be sequestered.[Footnote 4] The trial court instructed the jury during the trial not to listen to news reports or read newspapers because of the possibility that they could read or hear something about the trial with which they were involved. There is no indication that any juror was exposed to prejudicial publicity during the course of the trial. Thus, we see no abuse of discretion in the fact that the trial court failed to sequester this jury.
Appellant also argues that he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial by the fact that he was incarcerated for nearly one year prior to his trial. The sixth amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees to criminal defendants the right to a speedy trial. This right is applicable to the states through the fourteenth amendment. In addition, the Idaho Constitution, in Art. 1, § 13, guarantees the accused the right to a speedy trial. The principal case which lays down the rules for determining when the federal constitutional right has been violated is Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101 (1972). Although the state guarantee is not necessarily exactly like the federal guarantee, this Court has previously used the Barker test in determining whether the state constitutional guarantee has been violated, State v. Holtslander, 102 Idaho 306, 629 P.2d 702 (1981), and noted that the "balancing test" is consistent with the protection afforded by our state Constitution and statutes. State v. Carter, 103 Idaho 917, 655 P.2d 434 (1981). In addition, in determining whether the state right has been violated, we must consider the statutory law enacted to aid in interpretation of this guarantee. See I.C. § 19-3501 (if defendant not tried within six months of information, without good cause shown, entitled to dismissal of prosecution).
Under the federal rule, the right to a speedy trial is measured from the time formal indictment or information or actual restraint or arrest occurs. U.S. v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 92 S.Ct. 455, 30 L.Ed.2d 468 (1971). Under the Idaho speedy trial constitutional provision, the time of delay is measured from the point where formal charges are filed or when the defendant is arrested, whichever occurs first. State v. Holtslander, supra; State v. Lindsay, 96 Idaho 474, 531 P.2d 236 (1975).
In Barker v. Wingo, supra, the Supreme Court established a balancing test, wherein four enumerated factors are balanced together to determine whether an accused's constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated. The four factors to be balanced are (1) the length of the delay, (2) the reason for the delay, (3) the assertion of accused's right to a speedy trial, and (4) the prejudice to the accused.
We would first note that, on the first issue, the length of delay between the time a criminal complaint was filed and defendant arrested, and the time the appellant first asserted his right to a speedy trial was somewhat over eleven months, three months of which were consumed by appellant's stay in the Idaho security medical facility undergoing psychiatric evaluations. This delay in and of itself does not indicate a violation of appellant's constitutional right. State v. Holtslander, 102 Idaho 306, 629 P.2d 702 (1981) (delay in prosecution not presumed prejudicial so as to violate rights of defendant).
Insofar as the reason for the delay is concerned, we note that in this case the parties were involved in a complicated first degree murder case. It is helpful to examine the course of proceedings during this case. To aid in that inquiry we have developed the following outline of the course of proceedings with a notation indicating which party filed each motion:
October 1, 1981 Criminal complaint filed
October 2, 1981 Defendant appeared,
10, 1981 Preliminary hearing
November 10, 1981 Bound over for trial
November 25, 1981 Arraignment
November 25, 1981 Information filed
December 4, 1981 Notice of Intent to Rely on
Mental Disease or Defect --
January 13, 1982 Order for Appointment of
Psychiatrist -- requested by
January 14, 1982 Motion to
January 18, 1982 Order setting date for
February 11, 1982 Order of transport to ISMF
February 19, 1982 Amended Information
February 25, 1982 Hearing on Motion to
continuance to review late
March 11, 1982 Motion for Change of
March 11, 1982 Hearing on Motion to
Dismiss -- Motion denied.
March 25, 1982 Change of venue motion
May 13, 1982 Defendant returned from
May 27, 1982 Motion in limine filed --
June 10, 1982 Motion requesting order to
June 24, 1982 Order granting 2d
psychiatric evaluation --
July 15, 1982 Court set jury trial for
July 29, 1982 Motion for Investigative
Hearing same day -- granted
August 12, 1982 Hearing on Motion for
August 30, 1982 Motion for Discovery --
August 30, 1982 Order setting venue
September 10, 1982 Motion to Dismiss/Speedy
September 21, 1982 Motion for Discovery --
September 30, 1982 Hearing on Motion to
Nearly all of the numerous motions filed in this case, which presumably were the reasons for the delay in trial setting, were filed by appellant. It does not appear that these motions were filed with the intent to delay the trial, but nevertheless the reasons for delay can be attributed to appellant.
The third factor to be balanced is the assertion of the defendant's right to a speedy trial. In this case appellant never urged his right until an eleven-month delay had occurred. Finally, we must examine the existence of any prejudice to the defendant caused by the delay. In this case appellant has not alleged any prejudice, nor do we find in this record the existence of any possible prejudice caused by the delay, and in fact the delay was most probably in appellant's best interests. Balancing all of these factors together, as required by Barker v. Wingo, supra, we find that there was no denial of appellant's right to a speedy trial.
Appellant argues that imposition of the death penalty was in this case erroneous in that (1) the aggravating circumstances relied upon by the trial court are unconstitutionally vague and not supported by the evidence, and (2) that participation of the jury in the sentencing process should have been required. We reject both of these arguments.
The trial court relied upon former I.C. §§ 19-2515(f)(5) and -(8)[Footnote 5] in imposing
the death sentence. We previously upheld the constitutionality of -(f)(5) in State v. Osborn, 102 Idaho 405, 631 P.2d 187 (1981), and need not consider this argument again. See State v. Sivak, 105 Idaho 900, 674 P.2d 396 (1983); State v. Creech, 105 Idaho 362, 670 P.2d 463 (1983). Additionally, arguments concerning the constitutionality of -(f)(8) were considered in our previous cases and do not again merit consideration. See State v. Aragon, 107 Idaho 358, 690 P.2d 293 (1984); State v. Sivak, supra; State v. Creech, supra; State v. Osborn, supra. In addition, both of these aggravating circumstances are amply supported by evidence of the cruel and brutal treatment of the victim by appellant, and appellant's similar treatment of persons close to him.
We have also considered the argument that the jury should participate in sentencing and have not found it to be constitutionally required. State v. Creech, supra (not required under federal constitution); State v. Sivak, supra (not required under state constitution). We see nothing presented by the facts of this case which would otherwise require jury participation.
We now reach that portion of our opinion where we must consider the proportionality of the sentence imposed in this case. Appellant urges that the sentence imposed is so disproportionate to the crime committed that it violates the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the eighth amendment. We also conduct a proportionality review in accordance with our duty to do so as mandated by I.C. § 19-2827. Under that statute we must also examine the record to ensure that the penalty was imposed without resort to passion or prejudice.
In examining appellant's eighth amendment claim, we look to the United States Supreme Court for guidance. In Solem v. Helm, 463 U.S. 277, 103 S.Ct. 3001, 77 L.Ed.2d 637 (1983), the United States Supreme Court set out the criteria to be used in determining whether a particular punishment is so disproportionate to the crime as to violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause. The criteria listed in Solem include: (1) the gravity of the offense and the harshness of the penalty; (2) the sentences imposed on other criminals in the same jurisdiction; (3) sentences imposed for the same crime. In this case the crime committed was the gravest offense under our system of criminal Justice, first degree murder. Thus, although the penalty imposed was also the harshest known to our system, it is not out of proportion in that the harshest penalty is imposed only for the gravest of offenses, and that is the offense committed in this case. Although there are no other murder by torture cases in this jurisdiction to compare this case to, we can compare this sentence to the sentences imposed for first degree murder. We note that many first degree murder convictions have garnered a sentence of death. Thus, we cannot conclude that the punishment imposed here is so disproportionate to the crime committed as to violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause.
In conducting our proportionality review under I.C. § 19-2827, we conduct a review of the sentence imposed, and the sentences imposed in similar cases, to assure that the sentence in this case was not excessive or disproportionate. We find nothing in the record of this case after a consideration of the nature of the crime, the character of the defendant, and the penalties imposed in similar cases which would indicate that the sentence imposed was disproportionate or unjust. The crime committed was unlike any other first degree murder previously committed in Idaho, in that it was the first case ever brought under the murder by
torture statute. In that sense, this case is unique and somewhat incomparable to other Idaho murder cases. However, although murder by torture does not require a showing of an intent to kill, making the crime unique, it does require a showing of the intent to torture, or the intent to inflict great pain and suffering upon the victim. The jury in this case found that such an intent was present, and that factual finding is supported by substantial competent evidence. The intent to inflict torture is comparable to the intent to kill in that both stem from a basic disrespect for the rights of others. It is this disrespect that the legislature has determined will be punished as a crime of first degree murder, ultimately punishable by death. Viewing this case in that light, it is more than possible to compare the nature of this crime, a torture murder, committed to satisfy the sadistic impulses of the defendant, to other murders which were committed to satisfy some other untoward motive, such as pecuniary gain.
The torture conducted by this defendant is similar to, if not more depraved than the conduct of other defendants who have been sentenced to death. It was stipulated at the sentencing hearing that when sentencing the defendant the court would consider evidence presented at the preliminary hearing and trial along with the presentence investigation report. While not all this information was available as evidence for the jury, the information was properly before the sentencing court. There was evidence that in his domination and abuse of his various victims the defendant committed at least three rapes. One rape was committed at defendant's place of employment against a woman acquaintance who attempted to collect some money owed to her by defendant. Defendant intimidated the woman into submission by feigning karate kicks and hits, one of which bruised and swelled her arm. Another rape was committed against a woman (at the time legally married to defendant) who was recovering in the hospital from a month-long coma resulting from a hit and run automobile incident. She had been run over and left on the road by an unknown driver while she was attempting to find a place to stay and hide from the defendant since he was just released from incarceration which was prompted by the wife's report to the police of defendant's beatings, burglary and auto thefts. The hospital had insisted that defendant stay away, but late at night he entered undetected and removed the victim's frail 86-pound body from her hospital bed, along with catheter, IV's, and drainage bags, to the bathroom where he raped her. On a previous occasion when the defendant learned of his wife's pregnancy, he bound her to the bed and beat her stomach with his fists and forced the handle of a spatula up her vagina in an attempt to abort her pregnancy. Another woman testified of defendant dragging her into a cold lake during the early morning hours of a day in November, where he repeatedly held her head under water, threatening to kill her. The evidence showed that defendant often choked his victims into submission, including his own son by a former marriage who was choked until the boy lapsed into unconsciousness. Additionally, defendant sodomized and forced oral sex upon his son.
The record before the sentencing court discloses a defendant with three prior convictions, one for rape, and a ten-year history of seemingly endless incidents of beatings, chokings, assaults, rapes and tortures, some at the point of a gun or knife, inflicted upon all the former wives, girlfriends and children whom the defendant was able to bring within his control. The sentencing court adequately stated:
"I feel this record shows this beyond a reasonable doubt, that this defendant is a person who is sadistic, is assaultive, he steals, he tortures, he rapes and ultimately he murders. . . . So as I examine his life as a whole I find no meaningful mitigating factors that could possibly outweigh the aggravating factors."
The sentencing court further stated in its written findings:
"The court is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that if this defendant continues
to exist, it will again be only a matter of time until another victim is murdered."
Viewing the nature of the crime committed and the character of the defendant, we find that the sentence imposed in this case is not disproportionate to that imposed in other first degree murder cases. We also find that there is no indication of a resort to passion or prejudice in the imposition of this penalty. At this point we note the trial court's superior ability to Judge the demeanor of witnesses and the character of the defendant, as opposed to our own view of the sentencing decision based upon a cold record.
During the course of our proportionality review, we have examined numerous cases involving the killing of a human being.[Footnote 6] Following our extensive review of the record in considering this crime and the sentence imposed, we have determined that the sentence of death is not out of proportion to the sentences heretofore imposed. The judgment of conviction and sentence imposed by the trial court are affirmed.
HUNTLEY, Justice, Concurring specially.
I concur in the majority opinion and in the imposition of the death sentence with the caveat and reservation that I remain of the opinion that the Idaho capital sentencing process is unconstitutional in two respects:
(1) It does not provide for utilization of the jury, which is in violation of both the Idaho and United States constitutions; and
(2) The sentencing proceeding, as conducted by the trial courts with the approval of this court, by permitting the admission of the presentence investigation report and other hearsay evidence over objection of the accused deprives the accused of the right to cross-examine and confront witnesses.
My reasoning in this regard is set forth in detail in my Dissenting opinions in State of Idaho v. Creech, 105 Idaho 362, 670 P.2d 463 (1983), and State of Idaho v. Sivak, 105 Idaho 900, 674 P.2d 396 (1983).
BISTLINE, Justice, Dissenting.
Once again the majority of three, Justices Donaldson, Bakes, and Shepard, decline another opportunity to attempt a realistic explanation of their reasons for declaring that the legislature has not impermissibly delegated the awesome responsibility of capital sentencing to district Judges. In State v. Sivak, 105 Idaho 900, 903, 674 P.2d 396, 399 (1984), Justice Bakes made an attempt at refuting that which Justice Huntley and I had earlier written on the subject in State v. Creech, 105 Idaho 362, 375-419, 670 P.2d 463, 476-520 (1984). That attempt apparently satisfied Justices Donaldson and Shepard, who independently have not voiced any thoughts on this matter of extreme importance. That attempt failed to convince either Justice Huntley or myself, as is well witnessed by our separate Sivak opinions, Sivak, supra, 105 Idaho at 908-922, 674 P.2d at 404-418. In particular it was stated therein that:
Some may consider it a deplorable state of affairs that in a matter of such grave moment the majority does not even attempt to comment upon the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention and the remarks of Mr. Heyburn, Mr. Claggett, and Mr. Ainslie in the drafting of Art. 1, section 7 -- which was thereafter adopted by the people. Instead the majority digresses into the wholly irrelevant field of the Judge's discretion where the jury's verdict was to convict of murder in the second degree.
With equal facility the majority facilely avoids discussing the teaching of State v. Miles, 43 Idaho 46, 248 P. 442 (1926), or attempting to explain away the words and wisdom of Justice Ailshie in In re Prout, 12 Idaho 494, 86 P. 275 (1906). Instead the majority opinion speaks of the sentencing discretion in, of all things, burglary cases. It gives us the remarkable pronouncement that the jury's determination of whether the defendant is guilty of first or second degree murder, or perhaps the included offense of petit larceny, "will have a substantial impact upon the sentence . . . ," and that such "does not mean that under our Constitution a defendant is entitled to have a jury impose the sentence." No one has ever contended that it did in other than murder cases; the statement of the majority only serves to show no knowledge of the documentation of the Creech Dissenting opinions, at the best, or, at the worst, a complete disregard for the irrefutable teaching of that documentation. In an ordinary case this would be thought regrettable. In a case where we review the imposition of a death sentence, it may well be regarded as unpardonable.
Most disturbing is the knowledge that prior to Furman the capital death sentencing procedures in Idaho were within a small percentage of being those which the Woodson Court would later prescribe. Basically all that was needed, prior to Furman, was a bifurcation so that a person accused of first degree murder would not be prejudiced by attempting at a single trial to prove both that he did not deserve the death penalty and that he was not guilty of first degree murder -- a Catch 22 situation if ever there was one. For example, see State v. Clokey, 83 Idaho 322, 364 P.2d 159 (1961), and State v. Owen, 73 Idaho 394, 253 P.2d 203 (1953), both discussed in my Creech Dissent. Those cases, and others, make it clear that this Court earlier, and absent legislative involvement, recognized that the trial courts should properly instruct the jury in a capital case to the end that the jury did not arbitrarily or capriciously invoke the penalty of death. Sivak, supra, 105 Idaho at 909-10, 674 P.2d at 405-06.
It is time, however, to put aside any thought that jury sentencing may be mandated by the federal constitution. Notwithstanding its own observation that in only the four states of Arizona, Idaho,
Montana, and Nebraska is it the court which alone imposes sentence, and notwithstanding that the issue presented was the more limited one of a Judge-override, the Supreme Court of the United States has finally taken the bull by the horns to put the matter to rest:
In light of the facts that the Sixth Amendment does not require jury sentencing, that the demands of fairness and reliability in capital cases do not require it, and that neither the nature of, nor the purpose behind, the death penalty requires jury sentencing, we cannot conclude that placing responsibility on the trial Judge to impose the sentence in a capital case is unconstitutional. Spaziano v. Florida, 468 U.S. 447, --, 104 S.Ct. 3154, 3165, 82 L.Ed.2d 340 (1984).
For my part, I am more persuaded by the views of Justice Stevens, with two Justices Concurring. Justice Stevens wrote in part:
"In the 12 years since Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S.Ct. 2726, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972), every Member of this Court has written or joined at least one opinion endorsing the proposition that because of its severity and irrevocability, the death penalty is qualitatively different from any other punishment, and hence must be accompanied by unique safeguards to ensure that it is a justified response to a given offense. Because it is the one punishment that cannot be prescribed by a rule of law as Judges normally understand such rules, but rather is ultimately understood only as an expression of the community's outrage -- its sense that an individual has lost his moral entitlement to live -- I am convinced that the danger of an excessive response can only be avoided if the decision to impose the death penalty is made by a jury rather than by a single governmental official. This conviction is consistent with the judgment of history and the current consensus of opinion that juries are better equipped than Judges to make capital sentencing decisions. The basic explanation for that consensus lies in the fact that the question whether a sentence of death is excessive in the particular circumstances of any case is one that must be answered by the decisionmaker that is best able to 'express the conscience of the community on the ultimate question of life or death.' Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 519, 88 S.Ct. 1770, 1775, 20 L.Ed.2d 776 (1968) (footnote omitted).
"Here the level of consensus is even greater, thereby demonstrating a strong community feeling that it is only decent and fair to leave the life-or-death decision to the authentic voice of the community -- the jury -- rather than to a single governmental official. Examination of the historical and contemporary evidence thus unequivocally supports the Conclusion reached by the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment three decades ago:
'For our part, we have no hesitation in agreeing with the many witnesses who considered that, in this country at least, the responsibility of deciding whether a person convicted of murder should be sentenced to death or to a lesser punishment is too heavy a burden to impose on any single individual. The sentence of death differs absolutely, not in degree, from any other sentence; and it would be wholly inconsistent with our traditional approach to such issues to lay on the shoulders of the Judge a responsibility so grave and invidious. It is more in accord with the instinct of our people to entrust to the men and women of the jury a joint responsibility for decisions which will affect the life of the accused.' Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, Report 193-194 (1953).
"The authors of our federal and state constitutional guarantees uniformly recognized the special function of the jury in any exercise of plenary power over the life and liberty of the citizen. In our jurisprudence, the jury has always played an essential role in legitimating the system of criminal Justice.
'The guarantees of jury trial in the Federal and State Constitutions reflect a profound judgment about the way in which law should be enforced and Justice administered. A right to jury trial is granted to criminal defendants in order to prevent oppression by the Government. Those who wrote our constitutions knew from history and experience that it was necessary to protect against unfounded criminal charges brought to eliminate enemies and against Judges too responsive to the voice of higher authority. The framers of the constitutions strove to create an independent judiciary but insisted upon further protection against arbitrary action. Providing an accused with the right to be tried by a jury of his peers gave him an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased, or eccentric Judge. If the defendant preferred the common-sense judgment of a jury to the more tutored but perhaps less sympathetic reaction of the single Judge, he was to have it. Beyond this, the jury trial provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions reflect a fundamental decision about the exercise of official power -- a reluctance to entrust plenary powers over the life and liberty of the citizen to one Judge or to a group of Judges. Fear of unchecked power, so typical of our State and Federal Governments in other respects, found expression in the criminal law in this insistence upon community participation in the determination of guilt or innocence.' Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 155-156, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 1450-1451, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968) (footnote omitted).
"Thus, the jury serves to ensure that the criminal process is not subject to the unchecked assertion of arbitrary governmental power; community participation is 'critical to public confidence in the fairness of the criminal Justice system.' Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 530, 95 S.Ct. 692, 698, 42 L.Ed.2d 690 (1975).
"The same consideration that supports a constitutional entitlement to a trial by a jury rather than a Judge at the guilt or innocence stage -- the right to have an authentic representative of the community apply its lay perspective to the determination that must precede a deprivation of liberty -- applies with special force to the determination that must precede a deprivation of life. In many respects capital sentencing resembles a trial on the question of guilt, involving as it does a prescribed burden of proof of given elements through the adversarial process. But more important than its procedural aspects, the life-or-death decision in capital cases depends upon its link to community values for its moral and constitutional legitimacy. In Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 88 S.Ct. 1770, 20 L.Ed.2d 776 (1968), after observing that 'a jury that must choose between life imprisonment and capital punishment can do little more -- and must do nothing less -- than express the conscience of the community on the ultimate question of life or death,' id., at 519, 88 S.Ct., at 1775 (footnote omitted), the Court added:
'[O]ne of the most important functions any jury can perform in making such a selection is to maintain a link between contemporary community values and the penal system -- a line without which the determination of punishment could hardly reflect "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."' Id., at 519, n. 15, 88 S.Ct., at 1775, n. 15 (quoting Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101, 78 S.Ct. 590, 598, 2 L.Ed.2d 630 (1958) (plurality opinion)).
"That the jury is central to the link between capital punishment and the standards of decency contained in the Eighth Amendment is amply demonstrated by history. Under the common law capital punishment was mandatory for all felonies, and even through the last century it was mandatory for large categories of offenses. '[O]ne of the most significant developments in our society's treatment of capital punishment has been the rejection of the commonlaw practice of inexorably imposing a death sentence upon every person convicted of a specified offense.' Woodson, 428 U.S., at 301, 96 S.Ct., at 2989 (plurality opinion).
The jury played a critical role in this process. Juries refused to convict in cases in which they felt the death penalty to be morally unjustified. This forced the adoption of more enlightened capital punishment statutes that were more in accord with the community's moral sensibilities:
'At least since the Revolution, American jurors have, with some regularity, disregarded their oaths and refused to convict defendants where a death sentence was the automatic consequence of a guilty verdict. As we have seen, the initial movement to reduce the number of capital offenses and to separate murder into degrees was prompted in part by the reaction of jurors as well as by reformers who objected to the imposition of death as the penalty for any crime. Nineteenth century journalists, statesmen, and jurists repeatedly observed that jurors were often deterred from convicting palpably guilty men of first-degree murder under mandatory statutes. Thereafter, continuing evidence of jury reluctance to convict persons of capital offenses in mandatory death penalty jurisdictions resulted in legislative authorization of discretionary jury sentencing. . . .' Id., at 293, 96 S.Ct., at 2986 (footnote omitted).
"Thus the lesson history teaches is that the jury -- and in particular jury sentencing -- has played a critical role in ensuring that capital punishment is imposed in a manner consistent with evolving standards of decency. This is a lesson of constitutional magnitude, and one that was forgotten during the enactment of the Florida statute.
"That the jury provides a better link to community values than does a single Judge is supported not only by our cases, but by common sense. Juries -- comprised as they are of a fair cross-section of the community -- are more representative institutions than is the judiciary; they reflect more accurately the composition and experiences of the community as a whole, and inevitably make decisions based on community values more reliably, than can that segment of the community that is selected for service on the bench. Indeed, as the preceding Discussion demonstrates, the belief that juries more accurately reflect the conscience of the community than can a single Judge is the central reason that the jury right has been recognized at the guilt stage in our jurisprudence. This same belief firmly supports the use of juries in capital sentencing, in order to address the Eighth Amendment's concern that capital punishment be administered consistently with community values. In fact, the available empirical evidence indicates that Judges and juries do make sentencing decisions in capital cases in significantly different ways, thus supporting the Conclusion that entrusting the capital decision to a single Judge creates an unacceptable risk that the decision will not be consistent with community values.
"Thus, the legitimacy of capital punishment in light of the Eighth Amendment's mandate concerning the proportionality of punishment critically depends upon whether its imposition in a particular case is consistent with the community's sense of values. Juries have historically been, and continue to be, a much better indicator as to whether the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for a given offense in light of community values than is a single Judge. If the prosecutor cannot convince a jury that the defendant deserves to die, there is an unjustifiable risk that the imposition of that punishment will not reflect the community's sense of the defendant's 'moral guilt.'" Spaziano, supra, 104 S.Ct. at 3167-78 (footnotes omitted).
First noting that many of the Judges who must be convinced by prosecutors have been prosecutors, I call attention to part VI, wherein are found almost the same observations as to the founding fathers of the federal Constitution which I brought to attention in regard to the Idaho Constitution in Creech and again in Sivak. In Creech it was not my thinking or my philosophy which I urged upon the majority of
three, but rather that which went into the creation of the Idaho Constitution long before anyone on this Court was born. Based upon recorded history, I wrote:
In reviewing their recorded considerations of that issue, we are fortunate today to have irrefutable evidence that those public leaders, of whom nearly one-half were practicing lawyers (Vol. I, Idaho Constitutional Convention, p. 160), were acutely aware that § 7 of Article I would guarantee forever that the legislature could not impinge upon the right of an accused to have a jury of his fellow men make the death penalty decision. Mr. Heyburn said it with an eloquence befitting a Thomas Jefferson or a James Madison:
"Mr. Chairman, I cannot agree with the gentleman in regard to the wisdom of changing entirely the system that is as old as government itself, that no man shall be deprived of his rights, of his liberty or his life, except by a unanimous verdict of a jury of his fellow citizens who have no interest other than to see that Justice is done him. This principle has been deemed so important that at one time the demand that man should be protected by right of trial by jury revolutionized the civilized world . . . . It is the strong arm of the law that stands between the weak and the strong, between rich and poor, between oppressed and oppressor . . . . [I]t is still not necessary for us to say that less than a unanimous verdict shall deprive any man of either his liberty or his personal rights. We cannot afford in the interest of economy nor in the interest of speedy Justice -- or of speedy trial, more properly speaking -- to lessen by one hair's breadth the safeguard, the insurance every man has that his property or his rights will not be taken away from him, unless it is clear, beyond a reasonable doubt that they do not belong to him, and that that reasonable doubt is to be determined by a unanimous verdict."
Id. at 152-53 (emphasis added).
Although Mr. Claggett, the sponsor of the proposed 5/6 majority rule proposal contended that the requirement of unanimous verdicts in criminal cases paralyzed the law enforcement power of the state, even he recognized that capital cases are unique:
"MR. CLAGGETT . . . . We all know the defendant has every benefit from reasonable doubt. We all know he has a double advantage in impaneling the jury. We all know that when there has once been a verdict of acquittal he cannot be called in question again, no matter how wrong the verdict may be. And we all know in addition that the court has power to suspend judgment on the verdict after conviction, in order that application may be made to the governor for pardon in any case which may arise now and then, where the conviction is wrong, or where, if not wrong, the punishment is too severe, so that there is ample opportunity given before the execution of the judgment of the court for a review of the case by the governor or board of pardons. Now I ask whether all these things taken together, one and all, do not constitute too much advantage on the part of the defendant, and whether the strong arm of the state, which is stretched out and whose function is to protect the people, is not paralyzed by this system of a unanimous verdict.
"Mr. BATTEN. I will ask you, why make an exception in capital cases?
"Mr. CLAGGETT. Out of mere tenderness to human life, and because if the death penalty is once inflicted you can never rectify the error, but on the question of imprisonment you have the entire term of his imprisonment to correct it."
Id. at 251 (emphasis added).
Clearly the right, indeed the safeguard, to have a jury of fellow citizens make the decision of death was foremost in the minds of the framers when they assembled in the year 1899 and drafted
the Constitution of Idaho which was accepted by the people and the Union. Creech, supra, 105 Idaho 362,393-94, 670 P.2d 463, 494-95 (italics in original, underscoring added).
In Sivak, I lamented (as set forth earlier herein, but important enough to be worthy of repetition):
Some may consider it a deplorable state of affairs that in a matter of such grave moment the majority does not even attempt to comment upon the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention and the remarks of Mr. Heyburn, Mr. Claggett, and Mr. Ainslie in the drafting of Art. 1, section 7 -- which was thereafter adopted by the people. Sivak, supra, 105 Idaho at 909, 674 P.2d at 405.
USE OF HEARSAY BY SENTENCER
And, as Justice Huntley and I have consistently sought to show to our brethren, hand-in-glove with the present majority-approved one-Judge sentencing scheme is the widespread and grossly improper use of hearsay, even to the extent of newspaper editorials which, as self-appointed purported voices of the people, suggest to the sentencer which course he should take.
Justice Bakes has defended this practice on the basis that at the two trials, first that of guilt or innocence, and second, that of life or death, it is only that the sentencer is provided with broader ranges of information than the jury.
I continue to believe, as I have heretofore espoused in Sivak and Creech that any evidence which would be inadmissible before a jury as sentencer is equally inadmissible where the Judge performs that function. In this particular case, the presentence investigation report, a conglomeration of hearsay upon hearsay from all kinds of sources, together with the preliminary transcript, has had its effect upon the majority. See Part VI, Majority Opinion. It also had a like effect upon the sentencing Judge who, to his credit, wrote less emotionally than do today's majority. Judge Schwam wrote:
19-2515(f)(8) THE DEFENDANT BY PRIOR CONDUCT OR CONDUCT IN THE COMMISSION OF THE MURDER AT HAND HAS EXHIBITED A PROPENSITY TO COMMIT MURDER WHICH WILL PROBABLY CONSTITUTE A CONTINUING THREAT TO SOCIETY. The Court finds this to be true beyond a reasonable doubt in this case. The facts adduced at the trial and at the preliminary hearing are that the defendant has brutalized, at times with the use of weapons, almost every person with whom he has become emotionally involved. The evidence demonstrates that it was only a matter of time until one of the defendant's victims died as a result of the defendant's brutal behavior. The Court is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that if this defendant continues to exist, it will again be only a matter of time until another victim is murdered. The evidence demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant attempted to drown a woman as a means of torture and that this defendant inflicted brutal beatings upon his second wife and raped her while she was in the hospital recovering from an automobile accident. The defendant's brutal behavior toward so many different people over a period in excess of a decade demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt a propensity to commit murder in the future.
The Court has chosen to impose the death penalty because the continued existence of this defendant poses a constant threat to all around him; and because only the most serious punishment is appropriate for such an atrocious, depraved and heinous crime as the one committed by this defendant. As the Court has indicated, it could find nothing in mitigation which would outweigh the aggravated circumstances of this crime and this defendant. (Emphasis added.)
Defendant was not here charged or tried for attempting to drown a woman. The defendant was not here charged with beating and raping his second wife in the hospital. As far as my review shows, the defendant
was never so charged. The trial Judge, however, found him guilty of those unrelated crimes, and considered that guilt in passing sentence.
A perusal of the majority opinion should convince anyone that the defendant is a bad person. A brutal killing of a three-year-old boy is abhorrent to the senses. With the evidence admitted and the instructions given, concededly it would be a strange jury which would not have convicted him, and had the sentence been by jury instead of the Judge, the imposition of the death penalty would not have been startling. But, to say that is not to say that the defendant has had fair trials in both instances. Those are the questions which we have had presented to us. And, on our review mandated by the legislature, we are required to search the record for error, whether or not assigned by the defendant on his appeal. Our obligation is to ascertain that no prejudicial error has occurred. There is no further review after a defendant is executed. State v. Osborn, 104 Idaho 809, 663 P.2d 1111 (1983).
There is no doubt that the defendant was guilty of killing the boy. Attached to the presentence report, and apparently in the defendant's own handwriting, is an undated ten-page questionnaire signed by the defendant. In it he admits that he caused the death of the boy by striking him. The presentence investigator, after interviewing the defendant, wrote: "According to Mr. Stuart on the day of the instant offense he became upset over the victim's 'whining,' struck the boy in the stomach with his fist, wheeled him around, 'swat him on the butt' and made him finish his lunch." The boy lay dead a short time later. At trial defendant's attorney acknowledged defendant's guilt, arguing only that it was not murder, but manslaughter.
The pathologist, Dr. Reay, a year prior to the trial, reported his findings to the sheriff's office:
I am of the opinion that this boy came to his death as a result of multiple liver lacerations with the attendant hemorrhage resulting from those lacerations. The nature of the lacerations is such that a forceful blunt impact to the abdomen, multiple in character, are responsible for these lacerations. The type of force which is required to tear the liver includes a well placed blow with a fist, the pressure applied by a knee, or the violent movement of the body against an object striking the front of the abdomen. The type of lacerations described and demonstrated in the photographs are of the sort that are seen in traffic accidents which result from high velocity forces. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation has occasionally produced a superficial capsular tear but never to the extent, number or severity as demonstrated in the photographs and described in the autopsy protocol. The injuries as described and in the context of the report of investigation would indicate that the person(s) responsible for the care of the child on the afternoon of his death is likewise responsible for the injuries that were demonstrated at the time of autopsy.
I think I have covered all the questions surrounding this death that are pertinent to the central issue. There may be peripheral questions which you desire to have answered and I will do my best to provide an answer. In summary, I would conclude that this child died as a result of blunt impact injuries to the abdomen with lethal tears to the liver
and accompanied by massive internal bleeding. The inconsistency of the statements and the injuries along with the time sequence, indicates that whoever was responsible for this child's care is likewise responsible for these injuries and I would certainly view the death as a homicide.
A court can certainly take judicial notice that well-muscled boxers have been killed by a severe blow in the area of the abdomen, even when struck by a gloved fist. Here, there was no glove, and the blow or blows delivered were killing blows delivered into the small body of a three-year-old. No evidence pointed to the guilt of anyone but the defendant. The defendant intended to strike the boy, he did strike, and he is criminally responsible for the result, whether he intended it or not. If there is any excuse for so killing a small child, I am unaware of it. I am certain twelve jurors were unaware of any excuse. Apology and even remorse do not suffice. The defendant's written expression of willingness to make restitution does not suffice. There can be no restitution.
The sentencing Judge was the same Judge who presided over the trial. He not only had the benefit of those factors which I have above-mentioned, but he also heard the same live testimony which the jury heard and relied upon. In December of 1982, he submitted to this Court his § 19-2827 Report on Imposition of the Death Penalty. To it he attached a copy of his § 19-2515 Findings which were made after the sentencing hearing which had been earlier conducted in that same month. Therein the Judge made a statement which has led to my having considerable problems with the majority Disposition. That statement is:
The evidence showed a systematic months long torture of a two to three year old child, culminating in a brutal and savage application of force that produced the death of the child. (Emphasis added.)
That portion underscored is amply sustained by Dr. Reay's report alone, and all of the evidence points to the inescapable fact that the defendant's use of deadly force killed the boy on the 19th day of September, 1982. Clearly, the prosecuting attorney had before him a prima facie case of first degree murder -- murder which may have resulted from willful, deliberate and premeditated actions of the defendant. See State v. Aragon, 107 Idaho 358, 690 P.2d 293 (1984). The prosecutor, however, did not so charge the defendant. Instead, electing to charge murder by torture, and notwithstanding that he could have charged in a two-count information, the whole case proceeded upon only the murder-by-torture charge -- from the time of filing the original criminal complaint which led to the preliminary hearing and the binding of defendant over to district court for trial. The charging part of the Amended Information upon which the defendant stood trial for first degree murder read as follows:
That Gene Francis Stuart of Orofino, Idaho, on or about the 19th day of September 1981, at Orofino, in the County of Clearwater, State of Idaho, then and there being, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously kill a human being, with the intentional application of torture to said human being, to wit: that the said Gene Francis Stuart did strike and hit Robert Miller, a human being, repeatedly with the intent to cause suffering or to satisfy some sadistic inclination of the said Gene Francis Stuart, thereby inflicting great bodily injury upon Robert Miller and mortally wounding Robert Miller, from which wounds the said Robert Miller, a three year old boy, sickened and died in the County of Clearwater, State of Idaho, on the 19th day of September 1981.
A reading, and rereading, and re-rereading of that information that the crime allegedly committed by the defendant on the 19th day of September was that defendant inflicted great bodily injury upon the boy which mortally wounded him so that he died the same day, and, that the blows stricken, repeatedly, were delivered (1) with the intent to cause suffering, or, (2) with
the intent to satisfy " some " sadistic inclination of defendant's.
Murder perpetrated by torture has been part of our criminal law since 1864. So has murder perpetrated by poison. For over a hundred years there was no problem. Everyone knew what murder by poison was, and everyone knew what murder by torture was. Torture was, and is, and has always been, the intentional infliction of extreme pain. The intent was not necessarily to kill, and may have been, and often was not to kill. Not too many years ago it was even utilized to persuade people to confess -- sometimes to crimes they had not committed. It was used during the Spanish Inquisition to persuade people to recant. Criminals have used it to compel people to open safes or disclose the location of valuables. Torture is a word which has needed no definition.
Murder by torture similarly has not, over the years, been in need of any definition. Although some torturers do not intend the death of their victims, it is a known fact that extreme pain is a cause of death -- and where the pain causes the death, there is, and has always been, a case for murder by torture. In some torture murders the murderer is not content to kill his victim outright, but deliberately prolongs the life of his victim so as to insure that the victim does suffer and continues to suffer. A good example of legal torture murder was the execution of some classes of criminals in Merry Old England -- where executions were by prolonged near-hangings, disembowelings, and quarterings. One need not go on.
When the legislature in 1977 provided a definition for the word "torture," it came up with the same language that the various courts over the country have been using for years: "Torture is the intentional infliction of extreme and prolonged pain with the intent to cause suffering." I.C. § 18-4001. It is a good definition, insofar as I have copied it above.
But, unfortunately, it goes beyond that which case law provided, and adds:
It shall also be torture to inflict upon a human being extreme and prolonged acts of brutality irrespective of proof of intent to cause suffering. (Emphasis added.)
This is language of doubtful validity, but with which initially I had no concern. The information did not charge the defendant with "extreme and prolonged acts of brutality." When, on a second last review just before our opinions were about to be released, on reading the instructions, I found instruction No. 17 to be in the language of the charging part of the information:
The State must prove all the material elements of the offense charged by the Information to be true beyond a reasonable doubt before the defendant can be found guilty of First Degree Murder. It is not necessary that every fact and circumstance put in evidence on behalf of the State be established beyond a reasonable doubt, but only that all facts and circumstances in evidence, when taken together, establish beyond a reasonable doubt all of the material elements of the offense charged. The material elements of the offense charged against the defendant are:
1. That Gene Francis Stuart killed Robert Miller, a human being.
2. That the killing was caused by the intentional ...