Brutal Murder in Bibb Town

The State’s evidence tended to show the following.   On February 24, 1995, Tallapoosa police discovered the charred body of Kimberly Brooks rolled in a carpet;  the carpet was lying beside a dirt road in Bibb Town. The coroner testified that Brooks had been shot in the head and the stomach and that there was soot in her lungs and trachea;  he testified that she died of the “shots to the head [and] the chest and possible asphyxiation and burning.”

Smith handwrote the following confession for the police:

“Kim came to the house around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning with Labreasha Main. We was talking about getting married later on.   My brother Reginald came and Main left.   After awhile, Reginald left.

“When my mamma got off work, me and Kim got into an argument about another girl calling me.   We went outside.   I pulled my gun on her.   Sanjay [Brooks] and Shontai [Smith] pulled up.   I forced her into the van.   I told Sanjay to go to Bibb Town, which he did.   And, when we got there, Kim and I got out, continuing arguing.

“I told her I love her, and if I couldn’t have her, no one could.   She told me she loved me but things weren’t the same.   I kissed her on the forehead and pushed her off me and shot her in the chest.   And then she fell to the ground, and I shot her again toward her head.

“Shontai got out and helped me drag her into the bushes.   We left.   Sanjay dropped us off into the soft sands.   When he returned, we got James Shealey [‘s] car and got some gas and went back where I left her.   When we got there, she was standing up, and she got in the car and sat besides me.   I was scared.

“Sanjay rode from Bibb Town to Reeltown looking for a place to set her on fire and bury her.   I asked her what would she say if I took her to the hospital.   She say, ‘I’m going to say Corey shot me.’   We returned back to Bibb Town, and Sanjay drop us off-dropped us off.   He told us to go ahead and finish her and he’ll be back.

“We put a trash bag over her face until she died.   I poured the gas on her, and Shontai lit the lighter.   Sanjay never returned.

“We left there and walked back to my house.   Shontai spent the night.   The next [day] he left and I never saw him again.”

Smith’s codefendants, Sanjay Brooks and Shontai Smith, Smith’s cousins, pleaded guilty to murder and to kidnapping and received life sentences in exchange for their trial testimony against Smith.   Brooks was sentenced to concurrent life sentences on each count and Shontai Smith was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.   Both codefendants testified at trial and corroborated Smith’s statement.   Shontai Smith further testified, concerning setting Brooks’s body on fire, that after he and Smith poured gasoline on Brooks and ignited her, the fire got out of control;  to stop it they threw sand on Brooks’s body.   The two then placed her body in a piece of carpet that had been left in the dump area and rolled her body in the carpet.

Two other witnesses testified that on the day of the murder Smith told them that he had killed Kimberly.   One witness, Larry Butler, testified that Smith told him that he had killed Kimberly and that he needed gasoline to dispose of her body.

Because Smith was sentenced to death, this Court is obligated, pursuant to Rule 45A, Ala.R.App.P., to review the record of the trial for plain error.   Rule 45A, Ala.R.App.P., defines “plain error” as follows:

“In all cases in which the death penalty has been imposed, the Court of Criminal Appeals shall notice any plain error or defect in the proceedings under review, whether or not brought to the attention of the trial court, and take appropriate appellate action by reason thereof, whenever such error has or probably has adversely affected the substantial right of the appellant.”Smith argues that the trial court erred in not quashing his indictment because, he alleges, there was gender discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson in Tallapoosa County.1

Smith argues that he met his burden of establishing a prima facie case of gender discrimination and that the State failed to rebut this evidence.   Smith also asserts that this alleged discrimination is all the more “repugnant” because of the important and vital role that the grand jury foreperson performs

Smith also argues that the indictment should have been dismissed because, he says, it was duplicitous-it stated that the victim was killed by shooting and/or suffocation and/or being set on fire.  “ ‘Duplicity’ is the joining of two or more separate offenses in a single count.

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