The Franklin family, Paul and Judy Franklin and their 10 year old
son Paul, were murdered on 6 July 1983.
Paul Franklin was murdered in his house after refusing to sell a
vintage 1968 Corvette automobile to Peoples and his cousin, Timothy
Gooden. His body was dumped in nearby woods, where his wife and son
were also taken and murdered.
Autopsies revealed the boy and his mother were beaten to death with
a rifle, but the father's body was too decomposed to determine the
cause of death.
Judy Franklin wrote Peoples' name on the top of a
clothes hamper with an eyebrow pencil before she and her son were
Peoples was arrested five days later driving the car, confessed to
the murders, and led police to the bodied. Gooden pleaded guilty to
capital murder, testified against Peoples, and was sentenced to life
without the possibility of parole.
Peoples v. State, 510 So.2d 554 (Ala.Cr.App. 1986) (Direct
Ex parte Peoples, 510 So.2d 574 (Ala. 1987).
Peoples v. State, 565 So.2d 1177 (Ala.Cr.App. 1990) (PCR).
Peoples v. Campbell, 377 F.3d 1208 (11th Cir. 2004) (Habeas).
"I hope I've handled everything since I've been here with dignity."
Alabama Department of
Inmate: PEOPLES, JOHN W JR
Date of Birth: 01/09/1957
Location: Holman CF (Death Row)
Assigned to Death Row: 12/08/83
County of Conviction: Talladega County
Peoples executed for killing Pell City family
for sports car
By Samira Jafari - Tuscaloosa News
ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — Condemned inmate John W.
Peoples Jr. flashed a broad grin and gave a thumbs up to his brother
before he was executed Thursday for killing a Pell City family of
three and driving off in their vintage sports car in 1983.
48, of Talladega, died at 6:27 p.m. CST. He was convicted in
December 1983 in the killing of Pell City businessman Paul G.
Franklin and his wife, Judy Choron Franklin, both 34, and their 10-year-old
Officials at Holman Prison near Atmore conducted
the execution by lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court
denied Peoples' request for a delay and Gov. Bob Riley turned down
his bid for clemency.
Peoples did not look at or offer an apology to
relatives of the Franklins, instead thanking his own family for
their support. "I hope I've handled everything since I've been here
with dignity," he said in his final statement as he faced his
brother, Gerry Peoples.
The Franklins' relatives said they were relieved
that Peoples was executed, but were surprised at his apparent lack
of remorse. "Seemed a lot easier on him the way he died versus the
way they died," said Bill Choron, Judy Choron Franklin's brother.
Peoples ate very little in the days before the
execution and did not make the traditional request for a last meal,
prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said. Peoples spent Thursday morning
visiting with several relatives, including his mother, two daughters
and son. He left $186.19 to his brother.
In the final days leading up to his execution,
Peoples argued that he had a right to die by electrocution, as his
original death sentence stipulated, instead of lethal injection, a
method Alabama adopted beginning July 1, 2002. He contended there
never was a public court proceeding changing the sentence.
in its response to the Supreme Court, said Peoples missed the 2002
deadline to request the electric chair. "He has offered absolutely
no justification for the delay," said Assistant Attorney General
Beth Hughes in her rebuttal filed Wednesday. State's attorneys also
said his sentence — death — was not changed and that his claim was
The Franklin boy and his mother were beaten to
death with a rifle, but the father's body was too decomposed by the
time he was found for investigators to determine the cause of death.
Prosecutors say Peoples killed the three because he wanted their
1968 red Corvette, and he was arrested after attempting to sell the
car shortly after the killings. Peoples had argued that because he
led investigators to the bodies, his attorney should have taken
steps to get him a sentence less than the death penalty.
Evidence showed that Judy Franklin wrote Peoples'
name on the top of a clothes hamper with an eyebrow pencil before
she and her son were abducted. Peoples' cousin, Timothy Gooden, also
testified in a plea deal which got him a life sentence with the
possibility of parole.
Gooden, who initially testified that he was
with Peoples the night of the killings, later claimed investigators
pressured him into testifying falsely against Peoples. Gooden was
re-indicted for capital murder and, after pleading guilty, sentenced
to life without parole.
Last week, relatives of Gooden presented prison
Commissioner Donal Campbell with a letter from Peoples in which he
insists Gooden was never with him the night of the murders. Peoples'
letter, while apparently not asserting his own innocence, says in
part that District Attorney Robert Rumsey knew Gooden was not there
but still made a deal with Gooden to testify against Peoples.
Relatives of the Franklins had said they did not
care if Peoples died by electrocution or lethal injection. Peoples
was the fourth death row inmate to die this year and the tenth since
the state switched to lethal injection.
High court asked to block execution
By Samira Jafari - The Decatur Daily
AP - September 22, 2005
MONTGOMERY — A condemned inmate convicted of
killing a Pell City family of three before driving away in their
sports car lost a bid for clemency Wednesday but asked the U.S.
Supreme Court to block his execution, set for today.
John W. Peoples Jr., who has argued that he is
entitled to die by electrocution instead of lethal injection, filed
the petition with the court Wednesday. He contends his death
sentence never mentions lethal injection and to execute him without
a new court hearing would be unconstitutional. The 1984 court order
calling for his death specifies electrocution, which was the method
used in Alabama at the time.
The handyman was convicted in 1983 in the murders
of Pell City businessman Paul G. Franklin, and his wife, Judy Choron
Franklin, both 34, and their 10-year-old son, Paul. The boy and his
mother were beaten to death with a rifle, but the man's body was too
decomposed by the time he was found for investigators to determine
the cause of death.
The Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the
request to delay his execution, scheduled for 6 p.m. today at Holman
prison near Atmore. Gov. Bob Riley also denied Peoples clemency
Wednesday afternoon. The petition Wednesday reads in part that
"irreparable harm" will result if the stay is denied. The state has
said Peoples missed the deadline to request death in the electric
Peoples also argues that his trial attorney
failed to take steps to get him a sentence less than death since he
directed authorities to the bodies of his victims.
A relative of the Franklins said the family has
no opinion on how Peoples should be executed. "It matters not to us
whether he gets the chair or not," said Gail Choron, Judy Franklin's
sister-in-law, in a telephone interview Wednesday.
A man convicted of murdering a Talladega County
couple and their 10-year-old son before taking their vintage
Chevrolet Corvette is set for execution on Thursday, 22 years after
the killings. John W. Peoples Jr. was convicted in 1983 in the
murders of Pell City businessman Paul G. Franklin Jr., wife Judy
Choron Franklin, both 34, and Paul Franklin Jr., their son.
Peoples asked the Alabama Supreme Court to block
the execution, but no ruling had been issued Monday. The boy and his
mother were beaten to death with a rifle, and Peoples led
authorities to the spot where their bodies were dumped in a field.
The man's body was too decomposed by the time he was found for
investigators to determine a cause of death.
A former prosecutor said Peoples, now 48, killed
the three because he was after the Fanklins' 1968 red sports car.
"He wanted the Corvette, and he got in an argument with Paul
Franklin, then he decided he needed to get rid of the witnesses,"
said Robert Rumsey, a former district attorney who prosecuted
Peoples, now 48.
An attorney for Peoples asked the Alabama Supreme
Court to block the execution, arguing it should be halted because
Peoples originally was sentenced to die in Alabama's electric chair
but the state has since changed its preferred method of execution to
lethal injection. The head of the state's death penalty appeals
office, Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw, said the execution
should be allowed to go forward since Peoples could have requested
death in the electric chair but didn't.
"If he truly wanted to be electrocuted he could
have done that," said Crenshaw. "The default (method) is lethal
injection." Peoples' attorney, William C. Cagney of New Brunswick,
N.J., did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Peoples was arrested in the Corvette soon after
the slayings. "As far as I'm concerned, it ruined our life. It
changed our mother's life. It changed my life because we've lived
for this for 22 years. I'm glad it's coming down. He got what he
deserved," Judy Franklin's brother, Bill Choron of Foley, told The
Evidence showed the woman wrote Peoples' name
inside a clothes hamper with eye makeup before he abducted her and
the boy from their home. Peoples and his cousin, Timothy Gooden, who
was with him the night of the killings, were both charged with
Gooden testified for the prosecution in a plea deal
and received a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Gooden
later changed his story and said investigators pressured him into
testifying against Peoples, coaching him to tell a fabricated story.
He was re-indicted for capital murder, pleaded guilty again, and is
serving a term of life without parole.
National Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty
Do not execute John W. Peoples Jr.! - Alabama -
September 22, 2005
The State of Alabama plans to execute John W.
Peoples Jr., a white man, on Sept. 22, 2005 for the July 1983
murders of Paul Franklin, Judy Franklin, and Paul Franklin Jr. in
Talladega County. Peoples allegedly murdered the Franklins when Paul
Franklin refused to sell his Corvette to Peoples.
On advice of his counsel at the time, John W.
Peoples Jr. provided the State of Alabama with almost all of the
evidence that was used against him at trial. Peoples took
authorities to the hidden location of the Franklins’ bodies.
took them to the hidden location of the murder weapon and told them
about the location of a car where they would discover more evidence.
In fact, without Peoples’s cooperation the crime would never have
been solved. The additional evidence that the state based its
prosecution on was the admittedly perjured testimony of co-defendant
and alleged accomplice Timothy Gooden.
John W. Peoples Jr. also suffered from
ineffective counsel at the time of his trial. In a summation
statement at the guilt phase of Peoples’s trial, defense counsel
told the jury that if they found Peoples guilty they would have “no
option” but capital punishment. Clearly such a statement by defense
counsel may lead to an improper verdict at the sentencing phase.
In addition to his error at the guilt phase of the trial, Peoples’s
attorney failed Peoples in the sentencing phase of the trial. During
this important phase of Peoples’s trial his attorney called to the
stand a witness whose testimony clearly indicated that he believed
that if someone had committed the crime for which Peoples was
convicted then that person should be executed. In other words, a
witness for the defense testified at sentencing that the defendant
should be convicted. Evidently Peoples has not been adequately
Furthermore, the Alabama Circuit Court denied
motions for change of venue based on the publicity that the case had
received locally. Another factor that raises questions about whether
Peoples’s jury was impartial is the fact that the Alabama Circuit
Court allowed Jimmy Chastin to remain a juror.
Although Chastin was
a reserve Talladega County Deputy Sheriff who rode along with law
enforcement authorities during the investigation of the location of
the Franklins’ bodies, he remained on the jury that would decide
both Peoples’s guilt and his sentence. The possibility that Chastin
could be considered impartial at the guilt phase of the trial is
Also important is the report that while Peoples
was in jail, the state seized a tape recorder that Peoples used for
communication with his attorney, violating attorney-client privilege.
The failures of John W. Peoples Jr.’s first attorneys were extensive.
His jury pool could certainly not be considered impartial. John W.
Peoples Jr. has no significant history of prior criminal activity
and his constitutional rights were repeatedly violated throughout
the investigation and trial.
Please write to Gov. Bob Riley requesting that he
stop the execution of John W. Peoples Jr.
16 September 2005 - USA (Alabama) - John W.
Peoples Jr, white (m)
John W. Peoples Jr. is scheduled to be executed
by lethal injection in the State of Alabama on 22 September. He was
sentenced to death in January 1984 for the murder of Paul and Judy
Franklin and their son, Paul Jr, in Talladega County.
doubts about the competency of the lawyer who represented him at the
trial at which he was convicted. His alleged accomplice was
convicted of the same murders but sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Franklin family were murdered on 6 July 1983.
According to evidence presented at the trial Paul Franklin was
murdered in his house after refusing to sell a car to John Peoples
Jr. and his cousin, Timothy Gooden. His body was dumped in nearby
woods, where his wife and son were also taken and murdered.
Peoples Jr. was arrested five days later, and confessed to the
murders without a lawyer being present. Timothy Gooden also pleaded
guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to life without the
possibility of parole.
John Peoples Jr’s current legal team argue that,
despite his full cooperation with the law enforcement agencies, at
the sentencing phase of the trial his then lawyer did not offer any
mitigating evidence and explicitly told the jury that no
alternatives to execution existed in the punishment phase. Timothy
Gooden was also brought as a defense witness and testified in favour
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty
in all cases, regardless of questions of guilt or innocence. The
death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution
to it. It has not been shown to have a unique deterrent effect,
denies the possibility of rehabilitation, carries the risk of
irreversible error as well as inconsistent and discriminatory
application, and consumes resources that could be used to fight
violent crime and assist those affected by it.
Today, 120 countries are abolitionist in law or
practice. In the USA the capital justice system is marked by
arbitrariness, discrimination and error. Since the USA resumed
executions in 1977, it has carried out 982 executions, 33 of which
were carried out in Alabama. There are 191 people on death row in
In Alabama the Governor has sole authority to
grant clemency in death penalty cases.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive
as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
- expressing sympathy for the relatives and
friends of the Franklin family, and explaining that you are not
seeking to excuse the manner of their deaths or to minimize the
- stating that the death penalty has not been
shown to have a unique deterrent effect, denies the possibility of
rehabilitation, and consumes resources that could be used to fight
violent crime and assist those affected by it;
- opposing the execution of John W. Peoples Jr,
and urging the Governor to grant clemency to him.
Peoples v. State,
510 So.2d 554 (Ala.Cr.App. 1986) (Direct Appeal).
Defendant was convicted in the Circuit Court,
Talladega County, Jerry L. Fielding, J., of various charges relating
to murder of family, and he appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals,
Taylor, J., held that: (1) defendant was not entitled to change of
venue; (2) veniremen did not have to be stricken for cause; (3)
defendant was not prejudiced by prosecutor's remark during jury
selection; (4) defendant's arrest was proper and evidence seized
pursuant to that arrest was not "fruit of poisonous tree;" (5)
bodies of victims would have been discovered through independent
source; (6) defendant had waived right to counsel and confession was
admissible; (7) trial court was required to give instruction as to
defendant's right not to testify; and (8) death penalty was properly
imposed. Affirmed. Judgment affirmed, Ala. 510 So.2d 574.
The defendant, John W. Peoples, Jr., was indicted by the Talladega
County Grand Jury on August 3, 1983, in a five-count capital murder
indictment. Count one charged murder of two or more persons, namely,
Paul G. Franklin, Sr., and Judy C. Franklin, by one act or pursuant
to one scheme or course of conduct, a violation of §
13A-5-40(a)(10), Code of Alabama 1975 . Count two charged murder of
Paul G. Franklin, Sr., during the kidnapping in the first degree of
said person, a violation of § 13A-5-40(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975 .
Count three charged murder of Paul G. Franklin, Jr., during the
kidnapping in the first degree of said person, a violation of §
13A-5-40(a)(1), Code of Alabama 1975. Count four charged murder
during a burglary in the first degree, a violation of §
13A-5-40(a)(4), Code of Alabama 1975. Count five charged murder
during a robbery in the first degree, a violation of § 13A-5-
40(a)(2), Code of Alabama 1975.
In July 1983, 34-year-old Paul Franklin, Sr., his
wife Judy, and their 10-year-old son Paul, Jr., resided near Pell
City in St. Clair County. They lived in a house on a peninsula that
extends into Lake Logan Martin. Mr. Franklin owned several personal
vehicles between 1980 and 1983, having as many as five at one time,
including a red 1968 Chevrolet Corvette.
In July 1983, Mr. Franklin
had in his employ a tutor for his son, who had been employed for the
summer months, and a housekeeper, who came regularly and who had
been doing so for three years. Paul Franklin's wife, Judy, scheduled
an appointment for 9:00 a.m., July 7, for Paul, Jr., for a session
with his tutor. However, the whole family, along with the red
Corvette, disappeared from their lake home sometime on the night of
Wednesday, July 6, 1983. Mr. Franklin's mother, with whom he had an
extremely close relationship, lives in Birmingham, and the two of
them would talk by telephone "every" day. They had such a
conversation on July 6, at about 6:30 p.m., and again for five
minutes at about 8:30 p.m.
The next morning, July 7, 1983, the housekeeper
arrived as arranged and found the house was not locked. When the
housekeeper entered the house, she found no one home. She found the
lights and the color televisions turned on. The family dog was "laying"
in the washroom. She began her housekeeping chores, during which the
telephone rang; the call was from Mr. Franklin's mother.
between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. After talking with the mother, the
housekeeper returned to her duties. While getting the mop and pail,
she discovered that Mr. Franklin's Buick Regal was downstairs in the
garage. This was unusual, because inside the garage was where the
red Corvette was kept "fastened up all the time"; the Buick was
normally parked outside.
The housekeeper noted a puddle of oil where
the Corvette was supposed to be. This observation was "a little
after nine o'clock."
After mopping, the housekeeper proceeded with her
cleaning. Under the bed in the marital bedroom, she found Mr.
Franklin's pants folded in his usual but peculiar manner; however,
they still contained his keys, billfold, and money clip. Then she
noticed the bed in the guest bedroom was unmade, which was unusual.
She began vacuuming when "a voice" told her, "Rosa, get the hell out
of here and now," whereupon she "dropped everything right then and
there" and left.
Mr. Franklin's mother arrived at the residence
about 2:00 o'clock that afternoon, and found no one home and the
doors not locked. Mr. Franklin was supposed to have made
arrangements for his mother's car to be serviced at a local garage,
but when she telephoned the garage from the residence, she found
that her son had not made the appointment.
servicemen did come get her car and service it. Meanwhile, the
mother waited at the residence, hoping her son and family would
return. Then she began calling family members--her other son in
Georgia and Judy Franklin's mother in Birmingham. She also called
the sheriff's office.
Judy Franklin's mother arrived at the residence
about 7:00 p.m., and a sheriff's deputy arrived a short time later.
The mother noticed her daughter's purse on the kitchen bar. She also
saw clothes hanging on a dresser; they were the clothes that her
daughter had been wearing the previous day.
The deputy made a "short
investigation," staying there about an hour and a half getting
information and determining if anything was missing. Based on this
investigation, the deputy put out a police broadcast that the family
was missing, and later that night when he obtained a tag number for
the missing Corvette, he had a report of the missing car entered in
the National Crime Information Center (N.C.I.C.).
mother and Judy Franklin's mother were instructed to remain in the
house until Sunday afternoon, July 10, 1983. When they left, they
gave the authorities a house key.
The authorities blocked the driveway to the house
on the night of July 8. That night, Officers Marvin Roye and Ed
Traylor of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and Investigator
Owen Harmon, of the St. Clair Sheriff's Department, continued the
investigation at the residence. Officer Roye "spent a great deal of
time [that night] with the family going over the family history and
information--where would they go and where would they have gone and
what their activities were and things of this nature."
also looked around and through the house, "looking for things like
broken out windows, forced entry, and any kind of destructive type
thing." They also checked to see if any family luggage was gone. In
the basement where the Corvette was usually parked, Officer Traylor
noted an oily shoeprint from a shoe or boot that had a "vibram lug
type sole." The two mothers "knew basically where things were, but
it was a very difficult task to make some determination if there was
On Sunday, July 10, 1983, further investigation
at the Franklin residence disclosed the name "John Peoples" written
in eyebrow pencil on the top of a clothes hamper in the bathroom.
The name was covered by a piece of toilet tissue lying over the name
and the end of a towel on a towel rack draped over the clothes
hamper. Judy Franklin's mother recognized the handwriting as being
Judy's. It was determined that the name had been written there after
July 2, 1983.
Mr. Franklin's mother then informed the officers that
John Peoples was someone she knew and that he had worked for her son
around the house. She also told them John Peoples had borrowed money
from her son in the past and had lately been trying to borrow more
money. She also described him as being a "big robust type fellow, a
The next morning, Monday, July 11, 1983, the
officers learned that on the previous Friday, a large man named John
Peoples had attempted to sell a red Corvette with a "59 tag" to
Regal Pontiac Company in Sylacauga. He was described as being about
6'4"" and weighing 240 pounds.
On July 11, 1983, Childersburg Police Chief Ira
Finn received a telephone call from a Childersburg druggist
concerning a man being at the drug store trying to sell a red
Corvette. Chief Finn knew the car was listed "on the N.C.I.C.
machine," and when he gave the druggist the tag and registration
numbers of the car, the druggist told him that was the car the man
at the drug store was trying to sell. Chief Finn notified officers
to go to the drug store.
Assistant Police Chief Lewis Finn arrived
at the drug store at about 1:29 p.m., where he found the appellant
and the red Corvette. The officer walked in the drug store and asked
Peoples if the car was his, and he replied that it was. Outside, the
officer informed the appellant he would have to come to the police
station. The appellant was allowed to drive the Corvette to the
station while officers followed in a police car.
At the police station, the appellant was taken
into Chief Finn's office, and Chief Finn told him the Corvette had
been reported stolen from Pell City and that the three family
members were missing. The appellant replied, "Well, by god, I didn't
steal the car. I've got a bill of sale for it." He then threw a
piece of paper on the chief's desk.
The chief looked at it without
picking it up, and replied, "Well, that ain't too much of a bill of
sale. It's not notarized." The appellant responded, "Well, I've got
a goddamn tag receipt," and he threw another piece of paper on the
desk. He was then told he would have to wait until the arrival of
A.B.I. officers, whom Chief Finn had already notified.
Upon receiving the call in Talladega from Chief
Finn, St. Clair Deputy Sheriff Owen Harmon and A.B.I. Officer Ed
Traylor immediately drove to Childersburg. They arrived at the
Childersburg police station around 2:15 p.m., about 20 minutes after
the appellant had been brought in. The officers talked to Chief Finn
for some 20 to 30 minutes.
Chief Finn gave the officers the
purported bill of sale. The entire handwritten document reads: "I
Paul Franklin trade John Peoples one 1968 Corvette for 50 percent
ownership of the C.J. Supper Club. "/s/ Paul G. Franklin /s/ John W.
Peoples /s/ Judy Franklin "1946785406573 59A7093 59-5560"
However, the man who actually owned C.J. Supper
Club, one Curtis Jackson, came to the police station and told the
officers the supper club belonged to him and that the only right,
title, or interest the appellant had in the supper club was "operating
rights from June the 15th to July the 15th."
The appellant was given a Miranda warning at
about 2:45 p.m.; at that point, he had been at the police station
about an hour and 15 minutes. He told the officers he understood his
rights. While the officers were questioning the appellant, attorney
Ray Robbins telephoned.
Officer Traylor first talked with the
attorney, and the attorney told the officer that the appellant's
father had contacted him and "he just called to see what was going
on with" the appellant.
The appellant then talked to the attorney,
and told him that he "didn't need him or an attorney at that time,
that [the officers] were talking to him about the car that he had
purchased from Paul Franklin, and that if he decided he needed him
later he would call him back." After talking with the attorney, the
appellant gave the officers a statement in which, apparently, he
admitted he and an individual named Timothy Gooden had in fact gone
to the Franklin residence on the night of July 6, 1983, in his
Toyota pickup truck, but that they left the Franklins at home alive
and well about 12:00 or 12:30 that night.
Then the officers asked
him if he would give them permission to search "his Toyota pickup he
was riding in when he went over to Paul Franklin's residence." The
officers also asked him for permission to search both his residence
in Talladega and the Corvette. He said "that would be fine."
A permission to search form was then read to the
appellant, which informed him he had the right to refuse to allow
the searches. At approximately 4:30 p.m. on July 11, 1983, he signed
the permission to search form.
He then left the Childersburg police
station with the officers, taking them to his father's residence,
where the officers searched his Toyota pickup truck. Nothing was
taken from the truck. Next, they went to his apartment in Talladega,
where he unlocked the door for the officers.
Upon searching the
apartment, in a dirty clothes box, the officers found a shirt and a
pair of pants that appeared to have bloodstains on them. When the
officers found the clothes, the appellant "just slid down the wall
and was kind of sitting on his heels." When confronted with the
apparent bloodstains, he said they were from barbecue sauce "that he
got on there on the 4th of July when he was barbecuing down at the
club." However, "at this point, John got very nervous and upset. He
started sweating just around the lower part of his chin, sweat was
just a-dripping off."
Upon arrival at the St. Clair County Jail in Pell
City at 9:00 p.m., on July 11, the appellant was again given a
Miranda warning. He also was read a waiver-of-rights form, which he
read and signed. He was then interviewed until about 1:30 a.m., at
which time the decision was made by the assistant district attorney
of St. Clair County to formally place him under arrest for theft by
deception of the Corvette.
He was wearing "what appeared to be
pigskin type boots with a vibram lug type sole," similar to the
shoeprint found in the Franklin home. Therefore, before he was
locked up for the night, the officers asked him for the boots he was
wearing; he took them off and gave them to the officers.
morning, July 12, Officer Owen Harmon appeared before a magistrate
and swore out a theft warrant, which was later read to the appellant.
Bond was set at $25,000. Sometime after the warrant had been read to
the appellant on the morning of July 12, he sent a note to the
officers requesting that they come and talk to him, that it was "important."
Officer Marvin Roy responded and again read him the Miranda warning.
The appellant then made a statement to the effect "he could clear
this thing up about 90 percent" and that he "could furnish ... two
names." However, he said he wanted to wait until his lawyer arrived
before he furnished the information.
The attorney, again Ray Robbins,
arrived about noon, and, after talking with the appellant, told the
officers that his client "didn't have anything that would help [them]."
Routine mugshots and fingerprints were made that afternoon.
The attorney returned the next day, July 13,
about noon, to participate in an interview of the appellant's wife.
After that interview, a discussion ensued between the attorney and
Assistant District Attorney Dennis Abbott.
This discussion lasted
somewhat less than an hour and was prompted by an earlier request by
the appellant that he be allowed to take a polygraph test. Up until
this point, his statements were that he had purchased the Corvette
from Paul Franklin and had left the Franklins alive and well at
about midnight the night of July 6, and that he was not involved in
According to Mr. Abbott, in this discussion the
appellant's attorney told him (Abbott) that the appellant "had
already told us all that he knew and there might be one or two
little things that we didn't already know, but it wouldn't help us
any in our investigation." Mr. Abbott then asked the attorney if he
would recommend that his client take a polygraph test, which the
appellant had previously requested.
Based on the appellant's prior
statements, Mr. Abbott's offer was that if a polygraph test
confirmed that he was being truthful, the appellant could post bond,
a preliminary hearing would be set, and, if there were no further
incriminatory developments, he would "probably walk" after the
preliminary hearing because there would not be sufficient evidence
to bind him over to the grand jury.
The appellant's attorney then
stated that he would recommend that his client take the polygraph
test, because he believed his client was telling the truth. This
ended that discussion.
At about 5:00 p.m. on July 13, about 30 minutes
to an hour after leaving Mr. Abbott, the appellant and his attorney
were brought from the county jail to the sheriff's office. The
lawyer told Officer Marvin Roy that the appellant had some
information to add to his prior statement. Then, in the presence of
his attorney and Officers Harmon and Traylor, the appellant stated
that the Franklin family was dead.
Officer Traylor then asked the
appellant if he would take them to the bodies. Mr. Abbott was called
to come to the sheriff's office, and when he arrived, Peoples's
attorney said, "John Peoples is going to tell ya'll some more. All
of them are dead." The appellant then took the police to the bodies
of the Franklin family in Talladega County, in a wooded area just
off County Road 377.
The officers found lying near the bodies
unexpended rounds of .22 caliber rat shot. They also found a gun
sight elevator. Mud-grip tire tracks were found leading off the
paved road, and a "mashed" path of grass indicated that the body of
Paul Franklin, Sr., had been dragged through the grass.
bottoms of the yellow pajamas he was wearing were pulled down around
his ankles, consistent with his body having been dragged. Both Judy
Franklin and Paul Franklin, Jr., had been blindfolded. The bodies
were all in the same stage of advanced decomposition.
The skull of Judy Franklin had been fractured: "There
was a large fragmented skull fracture 4 1/2 by 4 inches in diameter.
There were ten separate pieces of skull in this area." She had been
also shot: "The upper arm near the armpit on the right showed a
perforated wound going from this arm through the arm and a few
perforations were present in front of her armpit in this area. Went
through the robe and skin and soft tissue in this area and minute,
very small pellets were recovered from the wound." In the opinion of
the pathologist, Judy Franklin died from blunt force trauma due to a
blow to the head.
The skull of Paul Franklin, Jr., was also crushed.
There was a "large fragmented skull fracture in the back of the left
side of the head ... virtually the entire left side of the head ...
[an] area 6 1/2 by 4." The skull fracture was very similar to the
skull fracture of Judy Franklin, and there were approximately 15
fragments in the fractured area. The impact side of the child's
skull was a patterned injury.
In the pathologist's opinion, the
injury to the child's head was consistent with having been inflicted
by the rifle the appellant had shown the two deputies. The
pathologist was of the opinion the child died from blunt trauma to
Based on a hypothetical question involving the
circumstances of the disappearance of the Franklin family and the
family being found in the woods with two members dead from blunt
force injuries to the head, the pathologist was of the opinion that
the manner of death of Paul Franklin, Sr., "was not accident or
natural or suicide."
On the night of July 14, Talladega County
District Attorney Robert Rumsey went to St. Clair County and talked
with Mr. Abbott, an assistant district attorney for St. Clair County,
and with investigating officers, in an effort to determine in which
county venue would be proper. During this discussion, Mr. Rumsey
first learned that a polygraph test had been tentatively scheduled
for July 15 in Gadsden.
On July 15, 1983, the appellant's attorney
brought a document to the St. Clair district attorney's office and
asked Mr. Abbott to sign it. Abbott refused to sign the document
because it did not accurately reflect their July 13th discussion
regarding the polygraph test. Specifically, Abbott said the document
was inaccurate because 1) it referred to a discussion of the
appellant's taking the authorities "to the bodies and that was never
discussed," and 2) it referred to the lawyers' talking about the
appellant's making a further statement; however, Mr. Abbott never
asked the appellant's attorney to request that the appellant say
Then the appellant's attorney began talking about "going
to the polygraph and going ahead and taking it and what was going to
happen if he took it and so forth." At this point, although the
officers had been taken to the bodies, the appellant had not
admitted any involvement in the disappearance or murders of the
Franklin family. Mr. Abbott then told Peoples's attorney, "Ray, take
him up there and let him take it, and if he passes it, then we'll
Mr. Rumsey arrived in Gadsden at about 2:30 on
July 15. He had a 30- to 40- minute discussion with the appellant's
attorney concerning the details of giving the appellant a polygraph
examination. Toward the end of this discussion, the attorney showed
Mr. Rumsey the document purporting to reflect an agreement with Mr.
Abbott about the polygraph examination.
The appellant's attorney
represented to Mr. Rumsey that an agreement such as that reflected
in the document had been reached. This was the first Mr. Rumsey had
heard about any "agreement." At this point, he told the attorney
that any polygraph examination was off until he could enlighten
himself about the "agreement" just shown to him.
Mr. Rumsey then telephoned Mr. Abbott, who told
him no such agreement had been made; and when defendant's attorney
talked to Mr. Abbott on the phone, he said, "You're right, Dennis,
this does not correctly state our agreement." When the telephone
conversation was over, Mr. Rumsey asked Peoples's attorney if the
document correctly stated an agreement with Mr. Abbott, and the
answer was, "No." Mr. Rumsey wanted to postpone the polygraph test
until he could meet with all persons involved who knew anything
about the so-called agreement, but defense counsel began urging that
the polygraph test be given that day. Mr. Rumsey relented, and the
polygraph test was given that afternoon.
At 5:18 p.m., Officer Jimmy
Flanagan, a polygraph examiner with the Gadsden Police Department,
advised the appellant of his Miranda rights in the presence of the
latter's attorney. The appellant signed a waiver-of-rights form, and
it was witnessed by his lawyer. The questions to be asked during the
polygraph test had been reviewed and approved by Peoples's attorney
and by another polygraph examiner retained by the defense. Officer
Flanagan had only four questions (termed "relevant questions") he
planned to ask regarding the deaths of the Franklin family, all of
which called for "yes" or "no" answers.
Those questions were: 1) Did
you take the Franklin family from their house that night? 2) Did you
hit Judy Franklin in the head last week? 3) Were you physically
present when Judy Franklin was hit? 4) Do you know for sure who hit
Judy Franklin? When the examiner asked those four questions, the
appellant refused to answer any of them. The examiner then
terminated the test.
After refusing to take the polygraph test on July
15, the appellant was returned to the St. Clair County Jail. At
about 8:30 p.m. on July 19, 1983, he sent the following note to the
sheriff of St. Clair County: "To whom it may concern I John Peoples
are asking to see the sheriff of St. Clair County on the date of
July 19, 1983 it is important and he is the only one I will talk to.
Thank you "/s/ John W. Peoples Jr. "In reference to case that your
When St. Clair County Sheriff Lewis Brown went to
the jail, the appellant indicated he also wanted to talk to
Talladega County Sheriff Jerry Studdard. Sheriff Studdard was
summoned to the jail. First, Sheriff Brown told the appellant to
call his lawyer and got the number for him. This was between 8:30
and 9:00 p.m.
The appellant then placed the call, but was unable to
contact his attorney and told the two sheriffs his attorney was not
at home. Sheriff Brown then told him to call another attorney, and
so he said he wanted to call attorney George Sims. Sheriff Brown
then called information and got George Sims' home telephone number.
When the appellant was given the number, he said, "Well, that's all
right, I don't need a lawyer. I'll just talk to y'all."
At this point, Sheriff Brown began advising the
appellant of his Miranda rights. The appellant interrupted, saying,
"[Y]ou don't have to read those rights, I've probably had those
rights read to me over a thousand times." Nevertheless, Sheriff
Brown read the entire warning, then asked again if he wanted to call
a lawyer. The appellant answered, "No, I don't want to call a lawyer,
I just want to talk to ya'll. I don't want you taping anything or I
don't want ya'll writing down any kind of statement, I just want to
talk to ya'll." He was asked if he understood his rights, to which
he said, "Yes." He was then asked, "Having these rights in mind, do
you wish to talk to us now?" He replied, "Yes, I do."
The sheriffs then talked to the appellant and
asked him to write a statement. He then wrote out a statement and
signed it on a form that contains both a Miranda warning and a
waiver of rights. The statement reads: "The case I am in I did do it.
Concerning the Franklin family I did do it." After he had written
the statement and signed it and it had been witnessed by the
sheriffs, he said, "Man, I am glad I told somebody that. It's really
a load off my shoulders. I am really glad I told you." The statement
was admitted into evidence at trial.
On July 22, 1983, the appellant was removed from
St. Clair County and transported to the Talladega County Jail.
During the Talladega jail booking procedure, the appellant said to
Deputy Terry Brewer, "Terry if you'll get [Deputy] Ricky [Daniels],
I'll show ya'll where the gun is." Deputy Brewer got Deputy Daniels,
and they took the appellant across the street to an investigator's
office, where they met with Sheriff Studdard. He was again given a
Miranda warning, and he said he understood his rights and signed the
waiver-of-rights form. He also wrote on the form: "I already have a
lawyer, but I do not wish to talk to him or have him present with me
at this time." He then took the officers "out in the Brecon area"
and showed them a gun wrapped in a towel and concealed in some
bushes. The gun was bent and broken.
Timothy Gooden, the appellant's third cousin and
co-defendant, was interviewed by Dennis Abbott, the assistant
district attorney for St. Clair County, on the night of July 11,
1983. (Earlier that day, the appellant had been arrested, and had
told the officers that he and Gooden had been at the Franklins'
On July 15, Gooden directed officers to the location
where the bodies of the Franklin family had been found two days
earlier under the guidance of the appellant. He knew the proper
location because he had accompanied the appellant the night of the
murder. At trial he was called by the State, and testified that when
he came home from work on Wednesday, July 6, his wife gave him a
message from the appellant, so he went to the appellant's house.
There Gooden asked the appellant if he was "going to get the car
that day." The appellant said, "yes," and he told Gooden he would
pick him up "around dark."
About 8:00 or 8:30 p.m., the appellant picked up
Gooden in the appellant's Toyota pickup truck which has large mud-grip
tires. The two then drove to the Franklin residence. At the Franklin
residence, the appellant got out, and Gooden left in the truck and
went to a nearby store and bought cigarettes. Gooden then drove back
to the Franklin residence and knocked on the door, which was
answered by the appellant. Gooden went in and had a seat. The
appellant sat at a table with Mr. and Mrs. Franklin "with a bunch of
papers on the table with a notebook pad."
The appellant got up,
asked Gooden to sit there with the Franklins, and he "went to the
back of the house." Then he returned accompanied by "the little
boy." He asked Mr. Franklin "about selling the car," and Mr.
Franklin told him he was going to keep "the car" for the little boy
for when he grew up. At this, the appellant "got kind of pissed off
about it," and again asked Mr. Franklin to sell him the car. Again,
Mr. Franklin declined. He then "went to the back room and when he
come back, he had some sheets or towels and a rifle in his hand."
Then the appellant gagged and blindfolded Mrs.
Franklin and the boy, and while Gooden watched them, the appellant
took Mr. Franklin downstairs. When Gooden heard a commotion
downstairs, he started down the stairs with Mrs. Franklin and the
boy. At this point, Mrs. Franklin "nudged" Gooden in the side, and
when he took her gag off and asked, "What's wrong," she said she
wanted to go to the bathroom. Gooden let her go to the upstairs
bathroom while he stood at the end of the hall, and when she came
out, he took her and the boy back downstairs after replacing her gag
Downstairs, Mr. Franklin was lying on the floor
by the pool table in the big family playroom. The appellant then
told Gooden to go get the truck and bring it "to the basement door
where the Corvette was sitting." While Gooden got the truck, the
appellant "got some blankets and stuff and throwed a blanket over
The hands of Mrs. Franklin and the boy were then tied, and
they were locked in the truck. Gooden and the appellant then "pushed
the car out and jumped the car off," and the appellant "put the man
in the car with the blanket over him and [appellant and Gooden]
According to Gooden, they then "came back to
I-20, came back up to 77, come down 77 to Jackson's Trace" and "pulled
off in a wooded area." The appellant then dragged Mr. Franklin from
the car, dragging him backwards in a "bear hug," and then he came
back out of the woods. "John walked up and he got the woman and
little boy out of the truck. She started asking John, said, what are
you doing. He said it didn't matter, like that. They went down in
the woods and the woman was crying and begging John, saying please
don't...." Gooden also testified that he heard a gunshot and the
woman still screaming, and "a few minutes later, everything got
When the appellant re-emerged from the woods, he
told Gooden "to meet him over there where he used to run a store on
77." The appellant then put the gun and blanket back in the Corvette
and left. Gooden complied and later met the appellant at the
specified location. The two then returned to the Franklin residence,
where the appellant went in and stayed for about 10 or 15 minutes
before coming out carrying a telephone and two drinking glasses. The
two then returned to the pickup truck.
Gooden drove the pickup truck
home, and appellant and his wife went to Gooden's home about 2:00
a.m. to get the truck. Appellant showed Gooden some money, which
Gooden counted--in excess of $1,100-- and then gave back to
appellant. Gooden did not get any of the money, and when Gooden gave
appellant the truck keys, the appellant said, "I'll fix you up later."
Gooden "didn't see him no more after that."
* * *
We have searched the record as required by Rule
45A, A.R.A.P., and have found no error which adversely affected the
rights of the appellant. The sentence of death was proper in this
case. Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is due to be, and
it is hereby, affirmed.
FINDINGS OF FACT IN REGARD TO THE PUNISHMENT
PHASE OF THE TRIAL
The State proved beyond a reasonable doubt and to
a moral certainty that the *573 defendant committed murder during a
robbery in the first degree, or an attempt thereof, committed by the
defendant, and murder by the defendant during a burglary in the
first degree, or an attempt thereof committed by the defendant, and
murder by the defendant during a kidnapping in the first degree, or
an attempt thereof committed by the defendant and the Court so finds.
The State had proven the defendant guilty of 4 provisions of the
Capital punishment offenses as set out in Section 13A-5-40, being
murder by the defendant during a robbery in the first degree, or an
attempt thereof, committed by the defendant, murder by the defendant
during a burglary in the first degree, or an attempt thereof,
committed by the defendant, murder by the defendant during a
kidnapping in the first degree or an attempt thereof, committed by
the defendant and murder of two people by the defendant by one act
or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct.
The defendant offered little evidence of
mitigating circumstances as provided in Sections 13A-5-51 nor
13A-5-52. At the conclusion of the sentence hearing the jury
returned a verdict recommending that the defendant be punished by
death. The vote was 11 for death and 1 for life without parole.
The Court finds that the conduct of the defendant
constituted a brutal, aggravated, merciless, and intentional killing
of a man, his wife, and their 10 year old child, and that the
recommendation of the jury as to the punishment to be imposed was
fully justified by the facts and circumstances of the case and the
aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances
proved by the defendant.
The Court further finds that the sentence of
death was not recommended by the jury under influence of passion,
prejudice, or any arbitrary factor. The Court finds that the
defendant and the victims, Paul Franklin, Sr. and Paul Franklin, Jr.,
were male caucasians, and the victim Judy Franklin, was a female
caucasian. The Court further taking judicial knowledge of the
proceedings conducted before it finds that the composition of the
jury trying the defendant in this case was as follows: two white
males, eight white females, one black male, and one black female.
Done this 27th day of January 1984.
Ex parte Peoples,
510 So.2d 574 (Ala. 1987).
Defendant was convicted of capital murder and he
appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals, 510 So.2d 554, affirmed.
After granting certiorari as a matter of right, the Supreme Court,
Steagall, J., held that: (1) police possessed reasonable suspicion
justifying investigatory stop, and (2) evidence found at crime scene
was properly admitted. Affirmed.
Peoples v. State,
565 So.2d 1177 (Ala.Cr.App. 1990) (PCR).
After defendant's conviction for various offenses
relating to murder of family were affirmed on direct appeal, 510
So.2d 554 and 510 So.2d 574, defendant filed motion for
postconviction relief. The Circuit Court of Talladega County, Jerry
Fielding, J., denied relief, and defendant appealed. The Court of
Criminal Appeals, Tyson, J., held that: (1) defendant was not denied
effective assistance of trial counsel by virtue of counsel's failure
to obtain written agreement concerning polygraph examination, and
(2) defendant was not entitled to relief based on newly discovered
evidence in form of state witness' recantation of his trial
John W. Peoples, Jr. appeals from the denial of his petition seeking
post-conviction relief under Rule 20, Alabama Temporary Rules of
Criminal Procedure. This petition was denied by the trial court
after the appointment of counsel and the conducting of a full
evidentiary hearing thereon by the trial judge.
On the night of Wednesday, July 6, 1983, Paul G.
Franklin, Sr., Judy C. Franklin and Paul G. Franklin, Jr.,
disappeared from their home. On August 3, 1983, in a five-count
capital murder indictment, John W. Peoples, Jr., was charged with
the capital murder of two or more persons. The appellant was found
guilty as charged in the indictment and the cause was then appealed
to this court, which affirmed same in an opinion reported as Peoples
v. State, 510 So.2d 554 (Ala.Crim.App.1986).
The cause was then
taken to the Supreme Court of Alabama which affirmed this court in
an opinion reported as Peoples v. State, 510 So.2d 574 (Ala.1987).
Peoples's attorneys then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in
the United States Supreme Court which denied that petition on
November 2, 1987, Peoples v. Alabama, 484 U.S. 933, 108 S.Ct. 307,
98 L.Ed.2d 266 (1987).
Peoples then filed his petition seeking post-conviction
relief in the Circuit Court of Talladega County. A full evidentiary
hearing, directly on the merits of the issues presented, was
conducted with appointed, experienced counsel to assist him. There
were some thirteen issues presented to the trial court which has
made express written findings. These findings are herein adopted as
Appendix A to this opinion and approved in this opinion.
* * *
NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE
In paragraph 12(E) of the Rule 20 petition,
Peoples claimed that newly discovered evidence existed, in the form
of Timothy Gooden's recantation of his trial testimony, which
entitled him to a new trial. At the Rule 20 hearing, Peoples called
Gooden, Gooden's father, and George Sims as witnesses. Respondents
called Robert Rumsey, C.J. Hallmark, and Jerry Studdard. Based on
all the testimony and the demeanor of the witnesses, the Court finds
that Gooden was not a credible witness at the Rule 20 hearing.
Peoples's remaining witnesses did not support his claim and one,
George Sims, contradicted Gooden's testimony. The Court finds that
Sims and the State's witnesses were credible. At the Rule 20 hearing,
Gooden recanted his trial testimony and claimed that he had been
forced to testify against Peoples. Gooden testified that, while he
took Peoples to the Franklin home on July 6, 1983, he left Peoples
there and did not go in the house. Gooden denied having any
knowledge of the Franklins' murder. Gooden denied going with Peoples
and the Franklins to the murder scene.
Gooden claimed that he testified falsely at
Peoples's trial. He explained that he did so because he had been
threatened by District Attorney Rumsey, Sheriff Studdard, and police
officers, including C.J. Hallmark. He said that Rumsey threatened to
prosecute him for capital murder if he did not cooperate. He said
that Studdard, Hallmark, and others threatened to physically abuse
him. Gooden claimed that he was afraid he would be beaten because he
had been beaten by deputies, including Hallmark, in 1978.
Gooden admitted giving two statements,
Petitioner's Exhibits 2 and 3, which conformed to his Rule 20
testimony, but denied giving two other statements, Petitioner's
Exhibits 4 and 5, which incriminated him along with Peoples. Gooden
testified that after his arrest he was taken to the Franklins' home
in St. Clair County and that Studdard and Rumsey dictated a
statement for his signature. Gooden also claimed that he did not
take the authorities to the murder scene but rather was shown the
scene by Studdard and Rumsey. Gooden said that Rumsey and George
Sims, who was Gooden's lawyer, told him what to say at Peoples's
trial. Gooden said that he had told Sims he was innocent but that
Sims had not believed him.
As evidenced by Petitioner's Exhibit 1, Gooden
pleaded guilty to robbery of the Franklins and was sentenced to
life. At the time of the plea, Gooden was informed that his
agreement with the State was conditioned on his truthful testimony
and continued cooperation with the State in any future proceedings.
The Court found that Gooden's plea was voluntary. Gooden later
appealed his plea and it was affirmed.
George Sims was appointed to represent Gooden on
the Franklin murders. When he first talked to Gooden, Gooden claimed
to be innocent but Gooden later admitted his involvement in the
Franklin murders. Gooden never told Sims that he had been threatened
Based on his twelve years of practice, Sims did not find
it unusual for a defendant to change his story from an initial
protestation of innocence to an admission of guilt. Sims and Rumsey
negotiated a plea agreement in Gooden's case the night before Gooden
testified. Rumsey told Gooden that he would be prosecuted for
capital murder if he did not tell the truth. Sims did not tell
Gooden what to say in his testimony and neither did Rumsey.
Gooden's father, Millard Gooden, testified that
in 1979 he was called to the Talladega County Jail to pick up his
son. He testified that his son had been beaten and identified
photographs of his son taken at that time. Mr. Gooden had no
knowledge of how or by whom his son was beaten that did not come
from his son. C.J. Hallmark was an investigator with the Talladega
Sheriff's Office in 1983 and was involved in the investigation of
the Franklin murders. Hallmark never threatened or abused Gooden and
no one in Hallmark's presence ever threatened or abused Gooden.
Hallmark never told Gooden that they ought to take him out and shoot
him. Hallmark did not threaten to take Gooden out and beat him.
Contrary to Gooden's Rule 20 testimony, Hallmark was not present
when a statement, Petitioner's Exhibit No. 2, was given by Gooden on
July 11, 1983.
Hallmark was present on July 15, 1983 when Gooden
gave a statement, Petitioner's Exhibit 4. Hallmark was also present
when Gooden gave his July 21, 1983 statement, Petitioner's Exhibit
5. Neither Hallmark nor anyone in his presence threatened Gooden to
make him give those statements. Hallmark was a deputy sheriff in
1978 and 1979. He did not beat Gooden then or on any other occasion.
Robert Rumsey is, and was in 1983, the District
Attorney for Talladega County, Alabama. He prosecuted Peoples for
the Franklin murders. As part of his involvement in that case,
Rumsey interviewed Gooden. His purpose in interviewing Gooden was to
check Peoples's version of the events of July 6, 1983 against
Gooden's, in the hope of contradicting Peoples.
During the interview,
Gooden volunteered that Peoples did not have a .22 rifle in his hand
when he went in the Franklins' home. At that point, Rumsey knew that
the Franklins' murder had involved a .22 rifle but no one outside
the investigation could have known, except a person or persons who
participated in the murder of the Franklins. Rumsey continued to
question Gooden, who ultimately admitted his involvement, see
Petitioner's Exhibit 4, and took Rumsey, Studdard, and others to the
scene where the Franklins' bodies had been found.
Rumsey was present and participated in obtaining
Gooden's July 15, 1983 statement. Neither Rumsey nor anyone in his
presence threatened Gooden. Gooden later told Rumsey that he had not
learned the location where the Franklins' bodies had been found from
the news and that no one had told him where the bodies had been
found before he took Rumsey there. Rumsey did not dictate Gooden's
July 21, 1983 statement, Petitioner's Exhibit 5, or any other
statement. He has never threatened Gooden and no one in his presence
has ever threatened Gooden.
Rumsey entered into a plea agreement with Gooden
after negotiations with Gooden's lawyer, George Sims. The agreement
was reached the night before Gooden testified and was conditioned on
Gooden testifying truthfully.
The agreement also included a
requirement that Gooden continue to testify truthfully in the
future, if necessary, and provided that if Gooden did not testify
truthfully then he would be prosecuted for capital murder. See,
Petitioner's Exhibit 1. Rumsey did not tell Gooden what to testify
to beyond requiring him to tell the truth. After Peoples's Rule 20
petition was filed, Rumsey met with Gooden in the presence of George
Sims. At that time Gooden reaffirmed the truth of his trial
Jerry Studdard is, and was in 1983, the Sheriff
of Talladega County, Alabama. He was involved in the investigation
of the *1185 Franklin murders. Studdard was present when Gooden was
interviewed on July 14, 1983 in the district attorney's office. He
was present when Gooden gave his statement, Petitioner's Exhibit 4,
early in the morning on July 15, 1983. Neither he nor anyone in his
presence threatened or abused Gooden. Studdard was also present when
Gooden took Rumsey to the scene where the Franklins' bodies were
found. Neither Studdard nor anyone in his presence told Gooden where
the bodies had been found. Gooden told them where to go and when to
Studdard was present when Gooden gave his July
21, 1983 statement, Petitioner's Exhibit 5. Studdard did not dictate
this or any other statement. Studdard never threatened or abused
Gooden. No one in his presence ever threatened or abused Gooden.
Based on the testimony and exhibits introduced at the Rule 20
hearing, Peoples has failed to make out a claim of newly discovered
evidence. Gooden's recantation of his trial testimony is not
sufficient to warrant a new trial. Gooden's Rule 20 testimony is
contradicted by credible testimony and is false. Recanting testimony
is inherently unreliable and has been recognized as being
untrustworthy. Wadsworth v. State, 507 So.2d 572, 575 (Ala.Cr.App.1987)
, cert. denied, No. 85-1399 (Ala.1986); Peterson v. State, 426 So.2d
494, 497 (Ala.Cr.App.1982) , cert. denied, No. 82-361 (Ala.1983).
Gooden's explanation that he lied at trial because he was threatened
was shown to be false. District Attorney Rumsey, Sheriff Studdard
and Deputy Hallmark were all credible witnesses and each testified
that neither they nor anyone in their presence threatened or abused
Gooden. Gooden's claim that he had reason to fear abuse in 1983
because he was beaten in 1978 or 1979 was contradicted by Hallmark
and by a hospital record in which he reported that he was assaulted
in the county jail without mentioning that he was assaulted by the
police, Petitioner's Exhibit 11.
Gooden's Rule 20 testimony was contradicted in
additional ways. First, Gooden's denial of his July 15, 1983 and
July 21, 1983 statements was shown to be false. Rumsey and Studdard
were present when Gooden gave the July 15, 1983 statement and
identified it as his statement. Hallmark was present when Gooden
gave his July 21, 1983 statement and identified it as his statement.
Second, Gooden's testimony that he did not take
the authorities to the murder scene was shown to be false. Rumsey
and Studdard were taken to the scene by Gooden and did not tell him
beforehand where the bodies had been found. Third, Gooden's claim
that Rumsey and Studdard dictated a statement for his signature was
shown to be false. Rumsey and Studdard denied dictating any such
statement. Their testimony is credible and Gooden's Rule 20
testimony is not. Fourth, Gooden's claim that he was coerced into
pleading guilty and testifying was shown to be false. Rumsey and
Sims testified that they negotiated a plea agreement predicated on
Gooden's truthful testimony and that Gooden was not told what to say
at trial. Further, as shown by Petitioner's Exhibit 1, Gooden
voluntarily pleaded guilty. Fifth, after the Rule 20 petition was
filed, Gooden reaffirmed the truth of his trial testimony to
District Attorney Rumsey and George Sims.
Based on the above, it is clear that Gooden's
Rule 20 testimony was false and his trial testimony was true.
Because Gooden's recantation of his trial testimony is clearly false,
Peoples has failed to prove the existence of newly discovered
evidence and is not entitled to relief.
Peoples v. Campbell,
377 F.3d 1208 (11th Cir. 2004) (Habeas).
Background: After capital murder conviction and
death sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, 510 So.2d 554 and 510
So.2d 574, and state postconviction relief was denied, 565 So.2d
1177, petitioner sought writ of habeas corpus in federal court. The
United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama,
No. 94-02175-CV-B-E, Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, J., denied petition,
and petitioner appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the
Eleventh Circuit, 227 F.3d 1342, ruled that the district court erred
in issuing a certificate of probable cause (CPC) in lieu of a
certificate of appealability (COA), and therefore vacated the CPC
and remanded the case to the district court for the issuance of a
COA indicating which specific issues satisfied the standard of a "substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right" as required by
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).
Holdings: Following issuance of a COA, the Court
of Appeals, Tjoflat, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) petitioner was not entitled to consideration of his Fourth
(2) petitioner was not "in custody" while in police chief's office
and, therefore not entitled to advice of his Miranda rights;
(3) even if petitioner's attorneys' performances were
constitutionally deficient, petitioner suffered no prejudice.
John W. Peoples Jr.