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Crosdale v. State

Supreme Court of Georgia

June 1, 2015

CROSDALE
v.
THE STATE

Murder. Clayton Superior Court. Before Judge Collier.

Cerille B. Nassau, for appellant.

Tracy Graham-Lawson, District Attorney, Elizabeth A. Baker, Assistant District Attorney; Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Paula K. Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Matthew B. Crowder, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

HINES, Presiding Justice. All the Justices concur.

OPINION

Hines, Presiding Justice.

Dario Reynaldo Crosdale (" Crosdale" ) appeals from his convictions and sentences for malice murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, all in connection with the deaths of his wife, Mona Crosdale (" Mona" ), and her cousin, Cleveland Lanford Roberts (" Roberts" ). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.[1]

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[297 Ga. 245] Crosdale conducted his own defense at trial. Construed to support the verdicts, the evidence presented showed that Crosdale and Mona had a son and a daughter, and that Roberts was temporarily living with them. The day before the killings, Mona told a friend that she was going to take the children to her parents in another state; that same day, Crosdale purchased a handgun, took the children to a babysitter's home for an overnight stay, and returned home. There, he approached Roberts and Mona as they were seated at the kitchen table, eating. Crosdale fired multiple shots at Roberts and Mona with the newly-purchased handgun, including a fatal shot to Roberts's head and several others to his torso and arm; two projectiles also struck Mona, one in the leg and one in the chest; she fled to another room on the ground floor of the house, where Crosdale bludgeoned her to death with a hammer he had purchased two weeks before, striking her multiple times on the head and neck. Crosdale then locked the handgun in an upstairs safe.

Crosdale later went to a church he had attended approximately five years earlier, where a regularly-scheduled 6:00 a.m. prayer meeting was disbanding. He encountered Louis Clark in the parking lot, who remembered Crosdale from his prior attendance. Crosdale asked Clark if he could see the senior pastor, who was unavailable, and then asked to see the senior pastor's wife, who was also unavailable. Crosdale then asked to speak with the assistant pastor; Clark informed him that he was now the assistant pastor,[2] and Crosdale said that he wanted " to talk about a couple of things." Clark asked how Crosdale's wife was, and Crosdale responded that that was one of the things he wanted to talk about. Crosdale then told Clark that " something bad" had happened; he first said that he had shot two [297 Ga. 246] people in self-defense, and then said that Roberts attacked him with a knife, that his wife came between them " and tried to grab the gun," and both Roberts and Mona were shot; he did not mention striking Mona with a hammer. Clark enquired whether they might be alive and suggested that they call 911, and Clark did so.[3]

Crosdale told a responding law enforcement officer that Roberts attacked him with a knife, that he shot Roberts in self-defense, and that he accidentally shot his wife when she tried to get the pistol. Crosdale was wearing a shirt with Mona's blood on it. Law enforcement officers investigated the crime scene, and Crosdale was read his Miranda [4] rights, placed under arrest, and transported to police headquarters for further questioning. While en route to police headquarters, a detective asked him where he worked, and Crosdale told him. Crosdale then asked: " Did you find the hammer?" The detective asked: " What?" Crosdale responded that he had put the hammer in a

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trash receptacle at a gas station near his house, and had " swung the hammer to get his wife off of him." Law enforcement officers later found the hammer used to bludgeon Mona where Crosdale said it would be.

At trial, Crosdale testified that: the killer of Mona and Roberts was a man named Juan Sanchez; Crosdale and Roberts had agreed to help a woman recover $35,000 from Sanchez, her former boyfriend; while Mona and Roberts were away from the house, Crosdale answered the door to find Sanchez and another man, both with firearms; the two men took Crosdale to the master bedroom, where they saw the receipt for the handgun he had purchased; the men bound and gagged Crosdale; Mona and Roberts returned to the house; Mona went upstairs; Sanchez and the other man forced Mona and Crosdale to go downstairs with them; Sanchez used Crosdale's handgun to shoot Roberts; after Mona refused to perform a sexual act with Sanchez, he bludgeoned her to death with the hammer; Sanchez forced Crosdale to place the hammer in the trash receptacle at the gas station; Sanchez forced Crosdale to drive to the location where his children were; Sanchez then forced him to go to the church and confess to a pastor, as if Crosdale were a member of the Roman Catholic faith, which was Sanchez's upbringing; and, Crosdale told Clark and the investigating police officers exactly what Sanchez told him to tell them. At no time during the investigation did Crosdale tell anyone about Sanchez and the other man.

[297 Ga. 247] 1. Crosdale contends that admitting evidence of the matters he related to Clark violated the privilege set forth in former OCGA § 24-9-22, which provided that communications to certain clergy " made by any person professing religious faith, seeking spiritual comfort, or seeking counseling" were privileged and not a subject about which testimony could be received.[5] However, when Clark's testimony was offered, Crosdale made no objection, and appellate review of the issue has been waived. Wright v. State, 296 Ga. 276, 283 (2) (766 S.E.2d 439) (2014). As to Crosdale's contention that the privilege set forth in former OCGA § 24-9-22 can never be waived, this Court has recognized that it can. Willis v. State, 287 Ga. 703, 706 (2) (699 S.E.2d 1) (2010). In any event, the privilege was never asserted at trial for the court's resolution. Compare id. See also Alternative Health Care Systems v. McCown, 237 Ga.App. 355, 360 (5) (514 S.E.2d 691) (1999).

2. Crosdale also contends that the trial court should have conducted a hearing before admitting evidence of what he told Clark, and that evidence of what he told Clark, and all evidence subsequently discovered by virtue of Crosdale's statements to Clark, should have been excluded. Again, Crosdale did not raise any such issue at trial. See Wright, supra. To the extent that Crosdale contends that a Jackson v. Denno [6] hearing was warranted because Clark was acting as an agent of law enforcement when Clark discussed with Crosdale calling 911 and when Clark made the call, there is no evidence that he filled any such role.[7] See In re Paul, 270 Ga. 680, 684 (513 S.E.2d 219) (1999). Compare Thorpe v. State, 285 Ga. 604, 610-611 (6) (678 S.E.2d 913) (2009). Further, any spiritual exhortation on Clark's part that led Crosdale to agree to call 911 would not constitute

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coercion. See Heard v. State, 287 Ga. 554, 557 (2) (697 S.E.2d 811) (2010). Accordingly, this enumeration of error has no merit.

[297 Ga. 248] 3. Finally, Crosdale asserts that, without the evidence he challenges in Divisions 1 and 2, supra, there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. However, as noted above, the referenced evidence was admitted without objection. The evidence presented at trial was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Crosdale was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560) (1979).

Judgments affirmed.

All the Justices concur.


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