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People v. Rogers

Supreme Court of California

July 25, 2013

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
GLEN ROGERS, Defendant and Appellant.

Superior Court Los Angeles County No. BA109525 Jacqueline A. Connor Judge

William Hassler, under appointment by the Supreme Court; and Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka, Assistant Attorney General, John R. Gorey, G. Tracey Letteau and Keith H. Borjon, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

BAXTER, J.

A jury convicted defendant Glen Rogers of the first degree murder of Sandra Gallagher (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a)), [1] and arson of property (§ 451, subd. (d)). One special circumstance was found true; that defendant was previously convicted of first degree murder. (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(2) [prior-murder-conviction special circumstance].) Following a penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. The trial court denied the automatic motion to modify the penalty verdict (§ 190.4, subd. (e)) and imposed the death sentence for the murder and a determinate term of two years for the arson conviction. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm the judgment in its entirety.

I. Facts

Guilt Phase

A. Introduction

On September 29, 1995, defendant Glen Rogers, a drifter from Ohio who had frequented McRed’s bar in Van Nuys for several weeks, picked up Sandra Gallagher at the bar and strangled her to death several hours later, burning her body in the passenger compartment of her pickup truck. Defendant fled from California to Mississippi, [2] then to Bossier City, Louisiana, where, on November 2, 1995, he picked up Andy Lou Sutton at the It’ll Do Lounge. Defendant spent the night with Sutton in her apartment and left the following day, telling her he had to go to Jackson, Mississippi, to retrieve a truck, but would return. Instead, defendant traveled to Tampa, Florida, where, on November 5, he picked up Tina Cribbs at the Showtown bar in Gibsonton, on the outskirts of Tampa. Defendant took Cribbs to his Tampa motel room where he stabbed her to death that same day. The following day defendant, driving Cribbs’s car, returned to Sutton’s apartment in Bossier City, Louisiana. The next night, on or about November 7, defendant stabbed Sutton to death in the bedroom of her apartment.

Defendant fled in Cribbs’s car from Louisiana through Tennessee to Kentucky, where he was ultimately apprehended by Kentucky state police after a high-speed pursuit through several towns.

B. Prosecution Evidence.

1. Defendant murders Sandra Gallagher in Van Nuys.

On September 28, 1995, Sandra Gallagher, age 33, had lunch with her husband Stephen at a restaurant in West Los Angeles. Gallagher was happy, as she had won approximately $1, 200 in the state lottery. She showed her husband the lottery ticket claim form, indicating she was going to the lottery office to submit the form. Gallagher was driving a black and silver Ford F-150 pickup truck with Colorado license plates she had obtained from her recently deceased father, who lived in Colorado. Her husband testified she was wearing a pair of distinctive earrings she had purchased from a Ross department store. An employee at the California State Lottery office in Van Nuys testified Gallagher came into the office that afternoon to claim her $1, 279 in prize winnings.

In September 1995, Mamdouh Saliman owned McRed’s bar on Victory Boulevard in Van Nuys. McRed’s was a full service bar that served all varieties of drinks. Saliman also owned CJ’s, another bar on Victory Boulevard, one block west of McRed’s, that only served beer and wine. Saliman went to McRed’s on the afternoon of September 28. When he parked his car, he noticed a truck with Colorado license plates in the parking lot. Around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., Gallagher walked into McRed’s and said hello to Saliman, asking, “Don’t you remember me?” Saliman, who remembered Gallagher because she had previously been a host at one of his other bars, replied, “I remember your face, but I don’t recall your name.” Gallagher told Saliman her nickname, “Sam, ” and he gave her a hug. Gallagher told Saliman she had won a lottery prize. When he asked where she had been, she replied that she had moved to Colorado after she left her employment with him.

Rein Keener worked as a bartender at McRed’s in September 1995. Keener arrived at work at between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. on September 28 and noticed a truck with Colorado license plates parked in the lot. Upon entering the bar, Keener saw Gallagher standing with Saliman, who called her over and introduced her to Gallagher. Saliman told Keener that Gallagher used to live in the neighborhood and that she was a “really nice gal.” He asked Keener to look after Gallagher and “steer [her] away from the loser leeches” at the bar. After Saliman left the bar, Keener ate dinner and Gallagher played pool. At one point the two began conversing and Gallagher told Keener her father had passed away and that she had just gotten back from Colorado. Gallagher also told Keener she had just won the lottery and was planning to go to Sacramento the following day to see her three sons.

At approximately 7:00 p.m. that evening, defendant arrived at McRed’s. He had recently become a frequent customer of the bar, showing up two or three times a week during the latter part of September 1995. The first time defendant patronized McRed’s, he approached Keener and asked for her phone number. Keener told defendant she did not go out with men she did not know. Defendant showed up at McRed’s during each of Keener’s shifts for the next three weeks, repeatedly asking for her phone number. During one conversation with defendant, Keener told him she was in law school and wanted to be a prosecutor. Defendant responded that he thought women made “lousy prosecutors.” He produced a laminated badge and claimed he worked for the government and traveled from state to state “looking for people.” Keener did not believe defendant and felt he was just trying to impress her. Defendant began buying roses for Keener from a flower lady who frequented the bar. He also tried to impress her by pulling out what appeared to be “wads of hundred dollar bills” and buying drinks for everyone in the bar.

When defendant entered McRed’s on the evening in question he was wearing cowboy boots, blue jeans, and a brown leather belt with “a fancy cowboy-style buckle.” His bleached-blond hair was long and feathered, and he had a neatly trimmed beard and moustache. He approached Gallagher, who “brushed him off” and continued to play pool. Defendant then left the bar. Gallagher’s husband testified she called him at around 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. to tell him she was at McRed’s and was thinking of staying and singing with the band.

On September 28, 1995, Cristina Walker and her boyfriend, Michael Flynn, were staying at defendant’s apartment at 6645 Woodman Avenue. Walker and Flynn had moved into defendant’s apartment a few days earlier after he had offered to rent them his spare bedroom. September 28 was Flynn’s birthday, and he, Walker and defendant had made plans to meet that evening to celebrate. Walker and Flynn drove to CJ’s bar and subsequently met defendant in front of the bar. Walker was driving her car and had her two dogs with her. Defendant, Walker and Flynn stayed at CJ’s for approximately one and one-half to two hours. While there, Walker had two beers and defendant and Flynn each had approximately four beers. When Walker indicated she liked “mixed drinks, ” defendant told her he knew a bar up the street that served cocktails. Walker told defendant she was not yet 21 years of age. Defendant told her not to worry, stating he would tell the bartender (Keener), whom he knew “real well, ” that she was his sister. Defendant told Walker he had spent prior weekends with Keener and was planning on spending the upcoming weekend with her. Walker drove the short distance to McRed’s, where the three arrived at approximately 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. When they arrived the bar was crowded. When Keener saw defendant arrive she gave him an “irritated look.” Defendant told Keener that Walker was his sister and the three ordered drinks.

At some point in the evening defendant asked Keener for a ride home, stating that because he worked for the government he “couldn’t get caught with a DUI.” Keener declined. Shortly afterwards, defendant approached her again, “pinned” her up against the door to the storage room, and put his arm around her back, “trying to be kissy and huggy.” Defendant told Keener, “I always get what I want.” Keener ducked out of defendant’s reach and went back to work.

Later in the evening defendant pointed to Gallagher, commenting to Walker and Flynn that he thought she was “cool” and “pretty.” Defendant announced that he was going to buy Gallagher a drink and approached her table. Walker saw Gallagher look up at defendant with a “big smile” on her face. Gallagher then turned toward Walker and Flynn and invited them to join her and defendant at her table in front of the band. Gallagher introduced herself and defendant began ordering drinks for everyone at the table. Thereafter, Gallagher joined the group “off and on, ” playing pool and then returning to the table whenever defendant ordered more drinks.

Sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m., Gallagher sat down with defendant, Walker, and Flynn, and remained with the group for the rest of the evening. Defendant had had approximately six to eight beers; Flynn approximately three to four beers. Walker was served approximately three to four mixed drinks, and Gallagher was drinking vodka and grapefruit juice. Keener testified that after three rounds, she began diluting Gallagher’s drinks because she was watching out for her. Between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m., Keener “cut [Gallagher] off.” Defendant and Gallagher were observed talking, dancing together, and “being playful.” Keener testified that defendant tried to pull Gallagher onto his lap and tried to kiss the back of her neck, with Gallagher “playfully” resisting. Keener later saw Gallagher kiss defendant on the cheek and sit on his lap. Keener put Gallagher’s large black purse behind the bar for safekeeping.

Towards the end of the evening, Gallagher and Walker went to the ladies room where Gallagher told Walker, “I really like your brother, ” indicating defendant had asked her to go home with them. She asked Walker if that would be all right; Walker said it would be okay. At approximately 1:20 a.m., defendant, Gallagher, Walker, and Flynn left McRed’s. Their plan was to return to CJ’s, then go to the 7-Eleven to buy some beer, and then go to defendant’s apartment.

Defendant and Gallagher left together in Gallagher’s truck; Walker and Flynn drove in Walker’s car. They went to CJ’s, stayed a short while, then went to the 7-Eleven store. Walker pulled alongside Gallagher’s truck while defendant and Flynn went inside and returned with cigarettes and beer. Walker and Flynn then drove back to defendant’s apartment in Walker’s car; Gallagher followed with defendant in her truck. Upon arriving, Walker was unable to find a parking space and double-parked on Woodman Avenue. Walker was not feeling well; Flynn told her he would park her car and clean it out because the dogs had made a mess, and meet her up at defendant’s apartment.

Defendant and Gallagher, who were also double-parked on Woodman Avenue, stayed inside Gallagher’s truck while Flynn, who saw an empty parking space across the street, attempted to make a U-turn to park Walker’s car. At that point, approximately 2:00 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department Officer David Hovey saw Flynn make an illegal U-turn and detained him. The officer testified Flynn was “extremely drunk.” He was arrested for driving under the influence and placed in the back of the patrol car. Flynn testified that as the police car drove off with him, he looked back towards Gallagher’s truck and saw silhouettes that looked like defendant and Gallagher were arguing or fighting, with one of them holding their arms high over the other’s head or neck. Flynn testified he told the arresting officer that “something weird” was going on and pointed at Gallagher’s truck. Officer Hovey did not recall Flynn trying to draw his attention to anything as they pulled away.

Sometime during the night, Walker awoke in her room inside defendant’s apartment. She saw defendant lying on the carpet next to her, with no shirt on and his pants unbuttoned. Defendant was awake and staring at Walker. She asked defendant, “What the hell are you doing?” Defendant replied, “Where is your boyfriend?” Walker jumped up and said, “What do you mean, where is my boyfriend? What time is it?” Defendant told Walker it was 5:00 a.m. Walker ran to the window and looked for her car, which had been impounded upon Flynn’s arrest.

Walker asked defendant what he was doing in her room. Defendant told her he went into her room to “check” on her, and asked again, “Where is your boyfriend?” Walker, believing Flynn had taken her car, began to shout profanities. Defendant responded, “Oh, don’t worry, honey, he went to jail.” Walker asked defendant what he was talking about and began to cry. Defendant told her Flynn was “a real idiot” and had made an illegal U-turn in front of a cop. He related that Flynn had been handcuffed and arrested, and her car impounded. Walker then asked defendant, “Where is that girl?, ” meaning Gallagher. Defendant had a “blank look on his face, ” and responded, “I got bigger problems than you, honey, I got bigger problems.” When Walker asked what he meant, defendant repeated two or three more times, “I got bigger problems, ” and stated, “I am just going to have to call some people in, I am going to have to do it.” Walker again asked, “What do you mean? Where is Sam? Where is that girl at?” Defendant looked at Walker and stated, “She’s dead.”

Walker stopped crying because defendant “had this look in his eye.” Walker asked defendant, “What did she [Gallagher] do to you, what is going on?, ” trying to make it seem like she was “on [defendant’s] side.” Defendant just stared back at her. Walker tried to act normally by changing the subject and stating she was unsure how to get Flynn out of jail. Defendant put his arm around her and leaned forward to kiss her. Walker told defendant “no, ” saying she loved Flynn. Defendant apologized and told Walker that he loved her like a “sister.” Defendant then stated he was going to try to get Flynn out of jail, and left the room.

Walker dozed off to sleep; when she awoke it was light outside. She dressed “as fast as [she] could, ” put leashes on her dogs, and opened the door into the living room where defendant was lying on the living room floor in his underwear, appearing to be “out cold.” Walker saw Gallagher’s purse, a distinctive yellow pack of cigarettes she had been smoking, and her Ford truck keys on the kitchen bar or counter. Walker took her dogs, left the apartment at approximately 8:00 a.m., ran to the 7-Eleven store and called her grandmother’s house. Her mother’s boyfriend, Stewart, came to the phone and Walker told him to come get her right away. He arrived within 15 minutes and Walker got into his truck with her dogs. She asked him to help get her “stuff” out of defendant’s apartment, explaining that Flynn was in jail and that, “I think this guy I am staying with, he killed this girl last night.”

Walker and Stewart went back to defendant’s apartment. Stewart waited in the hallway while she entered the apartment. Defendant was still sleeping on the floor. Walker stated, “Glen, Glen, wake up, ” and touched his shoulder. Defendant “came to his feet quickly, ” seemed embarrassed his pants were off, and put his blue jeans on. Walker told him her grandmother was sick in the hospital and that she needed to go home immediately to babysit her sisters. She told defendant that her mother’s boyfriend was outside and that she needed to get her stuff out of the apartment. Defendant told Walker she did not need to leave, as he was going to Las Vegas and she could have the apartment to herself. She declined the invitation.

Stewart assisted Walker in collecting most of Flynn’s and her belongings from the apartment and loading them into his truck. Because the truck was full and Walker wanted to remove all of Flynn’s and her belongings from the apartment as soon as possible, she went down the street to the residence of her friend, Cindy Keller, who also had a truck. Walker explained the situation to Keller and asked her to help her move the rest of her things out of defendant’s apartment right away. Walker and Keller went back to defendant’s apartment and got the remainder of Walker’s belongings as defendant stood in the hallway near the door watching them. At one point, when Keller was in the hallway and defendant was in the kitchen, Walker asked defendant, “What happened to that girl last night?” Defendant told Walker, “You know what, she ran off with some Mexican last night... some Mexican walked up and she walked away with him.”

Defendant then began going through Gallagher’s large black purse, removing numerous items and nonchalantly tossing them over his shoulders with both hands, which conduct made Walker even more nervous. Walker observed defendant remove a wallet and checkbook from the purse. Defendant left the room briefly; during that time Walker looked inside Gallagher’s purse and also noticed Gallagher’s earring on the floor.

On September 29, 1995, at approximately 6:30 a.m., Hoora Kushan, a nurse at the Laurel Wood Convalescent Hospital located at 13000 Victory Boulevard, arrived at work and drove into the hospital’s rear parking lot. She observed a pickup truck parked near some trash cans in an area of the lot where no other cars were parked. The driver’s side door was partially open, and she could see the arm, elbow, and part of a leg of a man who was leaning into the truck towards the passenger side, as if he was reaching for something from the dashboard. He had shoulder-length “blondish” hair and was wearing blue jeans and a shirt with rolled-up or short sleeves. Kushan testified the man’s hair resembled defendant’s hair. Kushan parked, got out of her car, and again looked toward the pickup truck and saw the same man with long blond hair leaning towards the passenger side, but slumped over. As she looked more closely, Kushan saw smoke coming from the dashboard on the passenger side. She observed that the pickup had Colorado license plates.

Kushan went inside the hospital and asked the nurses if they knew who owned the truck. One of the nurses suggested they go back outside and get the license plate number so they could announce it on the hospital’s public address system. When Kushan went back outside, she saw flames coming from the hood of the pickup. Another hospital employee tried to put out the fire using a fire extinguisher. Kushan ran back inside the hospital and asked someone to call 911.

At approximately 6:40 a.m., fire department personnel arrived and extinguished the fire. Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigator Tim Hamson arrived at the scene of the fire at approximately 7:20 a.m. Hamson was informed by firefighters at that time that there was a body in the cab of the pickup, which he confirmed. Hamson noted the truck was a 1977 Ford half-ton extended cab pickup with Colorado license plates.

Hamson smelled gasoline in the passenger compartment of the pickup. The lower extremities of the female body inside the truck were charred to the bones, but the floor carpet underneath the body was mainly intact, indicating gasoline had been poured over the body and surrounding areas of the passenger compartment and ignited. In Hamson’s opinion, the fire had been intentionally set to conceal a homicide. About 7:10 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department Detective Michael Coblentz arrived at the scene. A purse containing documents and photographs, as well as a marriage certificate, was found inside a locked metal compartment in the bed of the pickup. Detective Coblentz discovered that the victim in the truck was Sandra Gallagher.

On October 1, 1995, Dr. Frisby, a forensic pathologist with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, performed an autopsy on Gallagher’s body. Dr. Frisby was supervised by Dr. James Ribe. Dr. Ribe performed most of the dissection of the neck and Dr. Frisby dissected most of the other parts of the body. Dr. Frisby prepared the autopsy report and Dr. Ribe reviewed the report. Gallagher’s back was “severely charred” down to the muscle. The front portion of her body was “less charred.” Gallagher’s right lower leg was severely burned, down to the muscle and bone.

Drs. Frisby and Ribe concluded Gallagher died from asphyxia due to manual strangulation. This conclusion was based on the presence of red bruising or bleeding on the right and left sternohyoid muscles, a hemorrhage on the right-hand side of the lower part of the voice box and on the left side of the voice box, bruising to the thyroid gland, broken cartilage on the left side of the throat, and multiple hemorrhages inside Gallagher’s tongue. Drs. Frisby and Ribe also concluded that Gallagher was already dead at the time her body was burned, as determined from the lack of carbon monoxide in her bloodstream and the absence of black material in her windpipe. The absence of any petechiae (blood spots) in Gallagher’s eyes suggested there was no shifting or loosening of the position of the hand at the time of the strangulation. Dr. Ribe opined it would have taken at least one minute of “continuous compression” for the victim to die of strangulation, and that the victim would likely lose consciousness within six to 10 seconds of complete neck compression. Gallagher’s killer would therefore have needed to continue to strangle her after he saw her lose consciousness in order to ensure her death. Gallagher was found to have.10 percent by volume of alcohol in her bloodstream.

On October 5, 1995, at 10:30 a.m., Detective Coblentz served a search warrant at defendant’s apartment on Woodman Avenue. Nobody was inside the apartment, which had little furniture. A yellow metal hoop earring belonging to Gallagher was recovered from the kitchen floor. The earring was identified by Gallagher’s husband as one of a set she had purchased at a Ross department store and which she was wearing when they had met for lunch the day before her murder. A yellow pack of cigarettes was also found on the kitchen counter. Both Walker and Flynn testified the pack of cigarettes looked like the type Gallagher had been smoking when they were together with her and defendant on the night of her murder.

2. Defendant travels to Louisiana and meets Andy Lou Sutton.

In early November 1995, Andy Lou Sutton was living in a one-bedroom apartment with her roommate, Theresa Whiteside, at the Port Au Prince apartment complex in Bossier City, Louisiana. Whiteside testified Sutton was a “very beautiful girl” who had red hair and an “outgoing personality.”

On November 2, 1995, Whiteside and Sutton went to the It’ll Do Lounge in Bossier City. While they were sitting at the bar defendant walked in. He was dressed in blue jeans, a striped dress shirt, and had long blond hair. Sutton commented to Whiteside, “I like that.” Whiteside then left to go to Mr. Bill’s Lounge, where she worked as a bartender. Later that evening, Sutton called Whiteside and told her she would have “someone staying over that night, ” and that Whiteside’s pillow and blanket would be on the couch. Whiteside returned to their apartment at approximately 3:00 a.m. on November 3, 1995. At that time, Sutton introduced defendant to Whiteside.

At approximately 10:00 a.m., Whiteside, Sutton and defendant woke up, “sat around, ” and talked. Defendant told Whiteside and Sutton he was a truck driver and drove “18 wheelers.” Later that day, Sutton told Whiteside that defendant had to go to Jackson, Mississippi, to retrieve his “18 wheeler, ” and asked if the red pickup defendant was driving would be all right if left in the apartment complex parking lot. Whiteside told Sutton “yes.” Sutton had no car; she and Whiteside subsequently drove defendant in Whiteside’s car to the Greyhound bus terminal in Shreveport, Louisiana. Defendant told them he would return in several days and gave Sutton a kiss upon exiting Whiteside’s car. Sutton gave defendant her telephone number and defendant asked Whiteside to “take care” of Sutton.

3. Defendant travels to Florida and murders Tina Cribbs.

On the afternoon of November 4, 1995, defendant arrived by taxi and checked into the Tampa 8 Inn on East Columbus Drive in Tampa, Florida. He rented a room for two days, indicating his name was Glen Rogers and giving a home address in Jackson, Mississippi. The clerk on duty testified defendant had long blond hair and “gorgeous blue eyes.” Defendant claimed his truck had broken down and stated he was very tired and would “probably sleep the first day.”

On the morning of November 5, taxi driver Donald Daughtry picked up defendant from the motel and drove him to the Showtown bar in Gibsonton, Florida, a small town on the outskirts of Tampa where a community of carnival workers spent their winter break. Defendant asked Daughtry to let him off a short distance away from the bar. Defendant entered the bar a little before 1:00 p.m. At that time Lynn Jones was working as the bartender. She testified defendant appeared tall and “good looking, ” with long blond hair and “beautiful blue eyes.” When Jones asked defendant in local parlance if he was “with it, ” meaning with the carnival, defendant did not understand her question. When she explained what she meant, he told Jones he “drove trucks for the carnival, ” and began acting “flirtatious” with her. Defendant stayed at the bar nearly five hours.

Late in the afternoon, Tina Cribbs and three female friends entered the bar. Cribbs was 34 years old, had “reddish” hair, and was driving a white Ford Festiva her mother had purchased for her earlier that year. Cribbs and her friends sat at a table together. Defendant sent over a round of drinks to the women. Although defendant had told bartender Jones his name was Glen, she overheard him tell the women that his name was “Randy.” At one point defendant approached one of Cribbs’s friends, Jeanie Fuller, and asked if she was married or single. When Fuller replied that she had a boyfriend, defendant stated he did not date married women or girls with boyfriends. Cribbs’s three friends left the Showtown bar late in the afternoon; Cribbs remained at the bar with defendant where they talked for another hour. Cribbs was expecting her mother to meet her at the bar that evening. At approximately 6:30 p.m., Cribbs told Jones she was going to give defendant a ride and asked Jones to tell her mother she would return in 20 minutes. Cribbs and defendant were then seen leaving the bar together.

Cribbs’s mother, Mary Dicke, arrived at the bar approximately 20 to 30 minutes after Cribbs had left. Jones told Dicke that her daughter had given someone a ride and would “be right back.” Dicke waited another 30 to 45 minutes, then began calling Cribbs’s pager at between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. Dicke received no response and became worried. Dicke and Cribbs had a system whereby if there was an emergency she would input the number 69. Over the course of the evening, Dicke paged Cribbs with their emergency code over 30 times, getting no response. Dicke eventually returned home and called the police because she instinctively knew her daughter was “in trouble.”

At approximately 9:00 p.m. that same evening, Chenden Patel, the owner of the Tampa 8 Inn, noticed defendant leaning into a small white car in front of his room. Patel walked past the room and saw defendant standing at the door with two suitcases. A short while later, defendant came into the office and paid Patel for two additional days, extending his rent to Tuesday morning, November 7. He asked Patel for a “Do Not Disturb” sign; she told him she did not have one. Defendant then told Patel he did not want any maid service or anyone going into his room. The next morning, Monday, November 6, at approximately 9:00 a.m., Patel observed defendant drive away in the white car. Later that morning she noticed a handwritten note on the door of his room that read, “Do Not Disturb.”

Later that same morning, Monday, November 6, Cribbs’s purse was found by an attendant on top of a trash can at a rest stop on Interstate 10, just east of Tallahassee. At that time, unsuccessful attempts were made to call the telephone number listed on the identification in the purse.

On Tuesday, November 7, at approximately 10:00 a.m., a housekeeper found Cribbs’s body in the bathtub of the motel room defendant had rented. Responding Tampa police officers found the handwritten “Do Not Disturb” sign still on the front door. The bed was unmade and the television was on. Blood-soaked shoes, pants, and towels were piled on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. The officers observed blood smeared on a counter and floor of the foyer, as well as on the bathroom shower stall. Blood had also dripped down from the sink counter and bathtub and toilet fixtures. Cribbs’s body was found face-up in the bathtub with articles of clothing in between her legs. Several cigarette butts and a small gold bracelet were found in the sink drain.

Tampa Police Homicide Detective Julie Massuchi examined Cribbs’s body and noted numerous stab wounds, including a “very significant stab wound to the right buttocks area, ” a “large stab wound under the left breast, ” and smaller nicks on the chest area. There was also a long “defensive” scratch wound on the wrist area, as well as numerous bruises to the arms and back. A pair of black jeans and a shirt with tears in them were found in the pile of blood-soaked clothing on the bathroom floor. The stab wounds on the body corresponded to the tears in the jeans and shirt. Based on this finding, Detective Massuchi believed the victim was clothed at the time she was stabbed to death. It appeared the homicide happened “some time” prior to the discovery of the body, as the body showed lividity, indicating it had been in the bathtub for some time.

On that same day, Cribbs’s mother Mary Dicke was watching the news on television and learned that a “Jane Doe” had been found murdered in a motel. Dicke knew from the description of the victim that it was her daughter, and notified the police. Ernest Bruton, who had possession of Cribbs’s purse found at the freeway rest stop, was also alerted to the newscast of the homicide and turned the purse over to authorities.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of the first degree murder of Tina Cribbs in Florida on May 7, 1997.

4. Defendant returns to Louisiana and murders Andy Lou Sutton.

On Wednesday morning, November 8, 1995, Theresa Whiteside woke up and Andy Sutton told her defendant had returned to Bossier City and was outside in the parking lot cleaning up a car he had purchased for her. A neighbor, Sterling Fontenont, testified he saw defendant walking back and forth between a white Ford Festiva and a red truck that morning. Defendant entered the women’s apartment and, when Whiteside asked what kind of car he had purchased for Sutton, he replied “some kind of Ford, ” “some ’90 model, ” stating he had paid a friend $8, 400 for it. Whiteside made arrangements to meet defendant and Sutton later that day at the It’ll Do Lounge, and left the apartment.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., the three met up at the It’ll Do Lounge. When Whiteside arrived, she saw defendant’s red truck outside the bar. Defendant approached Whiteside, put his arm around her, and told the bartender to get her “whatever [she] wanted.” Whiteside, who felt uncomfortable with defendant’s arm around her, extricated herself and sat down with Sutton, while defendant remained at the end of the bar. Whiteside told Sutton she did not want defendant staying at the apartment anymore and that he “needed to go.” Sutton responded she would “take care of that.” The three then decided to go to the Touch of Class bar.

Defendant and Sutton stopped for cigarettes and then met Whiteside at the second bar at approximately 4:00 p.m. They ordered beers. Defendant began playing with the back of Whiteside’s hair. Whiteside motioned that she did not want defendant to touch her, and told him, “If you can’t hang, you don’t need to be hanging around us, ” by which she meant he should leave if he could not handle his alcohol. By then, defendant appeared drunk. Sutton asked if she could take defendant back to the apartment and let him “sleep it off.” Whiteside told Sutton that would be okay, indicating she would call Sutton later. At approximately 4:30 p.m., defendant and Sutton left the bar together and Whiteside went to work.

Between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. that night, neighbor Sterling Fontenont arrived at the apartment complex and observed defendant and Sutton park their vehicle in the lot, get out of the car, and walk together towards Sutton’s apartment.

Despite defendant’s earlier representation that he and Sutton would meet Whiteside at the bar where she worked later that night, they never showed up. At approximately 11:00 p.m., Whiteside called Sutton, but the phone rang unanswered 10 to 12 times and the answering machine did not pick up the call. Whiteside arrived home at between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. on Thursday morning and noticed defendant’s red truck still parked in the lot. She had to unlock the deadbolt to gain entry into her apartment; Sutton was not in the habit of using the deadbolt. As Whiteside entered the apartment, she heard another door shut. The lights were on in all the rooms, but it appeared to Whiteside that no one was in the apartment. Whiteside hollered for Sutton, who did not answer. The bedroom door was shut, but the blanket and pillow had not been left out on the couch for Whiteside. She turned on the television, lay down on the couch in the living room and fell asleep.

Around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m., Whiteside awoke because the television volume had been turned up to “maximum capacity.” She grabbed the remote control from the coffee table, turned off the television, and fell back to sleep. At approximately 10:00 a.m. she heard a knock on the door, got up, and let Sutton’s ex-boyfriend, Thomas Bryant, into the apartment. Bryant related that he had repeatedly attempted to call the apartment, only to receive a recording that the phone was out of service. Whiteside went to the bedroom, knocked on the door, and receiving no answer, entered the room.

Sutton’s bedding was “all wrapped up tightly like a present.” Whiteside called out “Andy, ” then pulled off the bedding and found a body with a pillow over the head and so much blood around the chest area that Whiteside was unable to tell if it was a man or a woman. She pulled the pillow off the head and saw “the most horrible agonizing facial features that she had ever seen.” Sutton’s arm was back behind her head and there were cut marks on her right wrist. Bryant entered the bedroom and attempted to turn on the light, but found it inoperable. The telephone was on the floor with the receiver uncradled. When Whiteside tried to call 911 from the telephone in the living room, she was unable to get a dial tone.

Whiteside and Bryant ran out to the parking lot and called 911 from Bryant’s cell phone. While outside, Whiteside noticed defendant’s red truck was still parked in the lot. Bossier City police officers arrived and found a knife in the bedroom under a pile of clothing. ...


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