Willie Scott was sentenced to death by the State of Alabama for the rape and murder of a ten year old girl. According to court documents Willie Smith would sexually assault and murder ten year old Latonya Sager who was residing in the same home. Willie Scott would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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|SCOTT, WILLIE EARL
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The evidence presented at trial tended to establish the following. Willie Earl Scott (Scott), who was 19 years old at the time, lived with his grandmother. Latonya Sager, the 10-year-old murder victim, also lived in the house, as did her younger sister and their mother, Latrice Sager. Latrice’s brother, Albert, his girlfriend, Shaneka Scott, and their two children lived there, too. Shaneka and Scott are cousins. During the evening of September 10, 1999, Latrice went to her mother’s house to play cards; Latonya accompanied her mother. Latrice and Latonya returned home at approximately 1:30 a.m. on September 11, 1999. While they were driving home, they saw Scott walking near the house. Latonya and Latrice went to the basement of the house, where their bedrooms were located. Latonya told her mother that she was very tired, and she went into her bedroom. Latonya was wearing her school uniform, which consisted of a white shirt and blue shorts; she was wearing panties and blue slippers, too.
Latrice went into her own bedroom and placed a handgun and some jewelry on the ironing board. She then took a bath. When she came out of the bathroom, she saw Willie Scott come into the house through the garage entrance he regularly used. He ran upstairs into the house. Latrice testified that Scott was playing rap music on the radio in the kitchen. Latrice told Latonya to go upstairs and turn on the air conditioning, which she did. Latonya and Latrice retired to their bedrooms for the night. During the night, Scott’s grandmother got up and saw Willie Scott driving away in a Lexus automobile that had been parked outside the house.
On the following morning Albert was attempting to locate a broom downstairs. Latrice told him to look in Latonya’s room. The door to Latonya’s room was locked and when Albert knocked on the door, Latonya did not answer. Albert removed the doorknob and entered the room with Latrice. Latonya appeared to be sleeping on her stomach and was partially covered by a sheet. Latrice touched Latonya’s foot and discovered it was cold. Latonya was dead. Latrice later realized that her gun was missing from her bedroom and that the Lexus was missing from the driveway.
Dr. Bruce Alexander performed the autopsy on Latonya’s body. He stated that Latonya weighed 64 pounds and was slightly more than four and one-half feet tall. The doctor observed that Latonya’s lower lip was bruised and she had an abrasion or a scratch on her neck. The doctor discovered small hemorrhages in the whites of her eyes, which are consistent with asphyxiation. He discovered extensive hemorrhaging beneath Latonya’s vocal cords and her larynx, as well as below her lower left eyelid. The doctor observed extensive swelling of Latonya’s brain and hemorrhaging in the area behind the brain. The doctor concluded that the cause of death was asphyxiation with strangulation and possibly also with suffocation. (R. 619.)
Dr. Alexander also observed a shiny substance around Latonya’s pubic area and inside both of her thighs. That material was collected and analyzed at a laboratory. The results of the analysis revealed the substance to be semen. The semen on Latonya’s right inner thigh contained Scott’s DNA. (R. 714-17.) The doctor took oral, anal, and vaginal swabs and discovered no sperm in any of the tested areas.
Also on the evening of September 10, 1999, Landris Wright had spent the night with her aunt, Gladys Wright Smith; Smith’s residence was located less than 10 miles from the residence where Latonya Sager was murdered. Wright and Smith testified that a “peeping Tom” had looked into the bedroom window at approximately 3:20 a.m., and Smith had twice reported the “peeping Tom” to the police that night. At approximately 6:00 a.m. on the morning of September 11, 1999, Scott pushed his way into Smith’s home, waving a gun. Smith and Wright were acquainted with Scott, but they had not invited him into the apartment that morning. Smith testified that Scott was acting “weird,” so she convinced him to leave the residence and to go with her to a nearby restaurant where she worked. (R. 438-39.) Scott drove to the restaurant in a Lexus automobile.
Willie Scott left the restaurant soon after he arrived there. Fearing for Wright’s safety because Scott had left, Smith called Wright and told her to check the doors and the windows in the apartment to be sure they were locked. She also told Wright not to let Scott into her home. Wright did not check the doors because her aunt usually locked them herself. Scott returned to Smith’s apartment at approximately 7:00 a.m., while Wright was taking a shower. Wright testified that, when she got out of the shower, Scott threw her on the bed and choked her. The two struggled; Willie Scott had a gun in his hand. Scott raped Wright.
Willie Scott then made Wright go into the bathroom where he forced her head into the toilet and put a pillow against the back of her head. He put a bullet in the chamber of the gun and told Wright he was going to blow her brains out. Scott forced Wright to bathe in the tub for approximately an hour. He then raped her a second time. She said that after he raped her again, he again forced her head into the toilet and then made her get into the tub. While she was in the bathtub, he brought some vinegar from the kitchen and poured it into the bath water. He made Wright clean herself in the bathtub.
Wright said that, after she got out of the tub,Willie Scott made her sit on the bedroom floor. He told her that he had killed a girl on the night before. He also told her that he had killed a boy over drugs and that he had raped another girl. Scott then told Wright to lie on the bed with him. He put his leg across hers so that she could not move and then he fell asleep. When she was certain that Willie Scott was asleep, she ran from the house to a nearby store, where someone flagged down police officers who were in the area.
The police took Wright to Smith’s residence and made her wait outside while they went into the house. The police brought Scott out and Wright heard Scott cursing and hollering. She testified that Willie Scott said he would be out of jail the next day. He also attempted to spit on Wright and he threatened to “chop up” her brother. (R. 377-78.) Wright’s mother testified that her daughter placed a frantic telephone call to her after she escaped from the house, and she and two of her children drove to Smith’s house. She, too, said that when Scott was brought out of the house, he was screaming and saying all kinds of things; he threatened to cut up her son. Wright’s mother testified that Scott said, “Y’all tripping about some pussy.” (R. 481.)
Officer Terri Jones of the Birmingham Police Department was on patrol in the area of Smith’s apartment when she was flagged down outside a business. Landris Wright told her that she had been raped by a man who was asleep inside her apartment. Jones and another officer went into Smith’s apartment and located Scott, who was asleep on the bed wearing only his underwear. The officers touched him to awaken him and he jumped out of bed, screamed, and ran around, out of control. He knocked down the blinds covering the window and broke the glass in the window with his head or his elbow, as if he intended to jump out of the window. Wright identified Scott as the man who had raped her. After he was arrested, the police found a handgun beneath the bed.
When the officers asked Willie Scott his name, he stated that his name was George Dwight Goldthwaite. (R. 332.) Two traffic citations were in the pocket of his pants that the officers found on the floor. Scott’s name was not on the citations; the name George Dwight Goldthwaite was on the citations. The citations had been issued the night before and were issued in two locations not far from the scene of the rape. Wright said she knew the suspect by the name “Willie Red” or “Willie Earl.” Smith later stated that she knew him by the name Willie Earl Scott. (R. 332.) When the officers checked the license plate on the Lexus at the scene, they learned that the vehicle was registered to someone who lived at the house where Latonya Sager had been murdered. While Willie Scott was being transported to the police station, information came over the police radio about Sager’s death. Officer Jones testified that Scott began to cry, and he asked, “What happened at my house?” (R. 323.)
Forensic tests revealed no semen or DNA from Scott on any of the swabs taken from Landris Wright, or on the bedsheet collected at the scene. The forensic biologist testified that bathing can diminish the presence of semen, but that it is possible to find semen even after a woman has bathed and douched. (R. 749-52.)
After the State rested its case, the court held an in camera hearing because defense counsel wanted to rest without presenting any witnesses, while Scott wanted to present witnesses who, his attorney believed, would damage his case. After hearing the arguments of defense counsel and his client, the trial court directed defense counsel to call the witnesses to testify.
Charlie May Scott, the defendant’s aunt; Bonnie Scott, the defendant’s grandmother; and Rachel Hillary testified on Scott’s behalf. They provided no substantive testimony regarding the crimes, although Hillary testified that she saw Scott driving a Lexus after midnight on the night the crimes were committed.
The jury found Scott guilty on all counts, and the trial court adjudicated him in accordance with the guilty verdicts. The court then held a sentencing hearing before the jury.