Jack Alderman and his wife lived together in an apartments in Garden City (Chatham County
) Georgia. Alderman worked at a local Piggly-Wiggly as an Assistant Manager and his wife was employed in by the City of Savannah, where she had a $10,000 life insurance policy with a clause providing for payment of double benefits in the case of accidental death. The victim also had another insurance policy, in the amount of $25,000, with the victim’s mother named as the beneficiary of this policy.
Alderman met John Arthur Brown when they worked together at the Vehicle Maintenance Department of the City of Savannah. When Alderman left the city of Savannah to work at Piggly-Wiggly, he and Brown would occasionally go for a beer and play pool together. During one meeting Alderman asked Brown to kill his wife for half of the insurance money ($12,500). John Brown accepted the proposition.
As John Brown subsequently explained to the police, the reason Alderman wanted to murder his wife was to receive insurance money from the victim’s death, and to stop his wife from divorcing him and getting a favorable financial settlement.
Later in the day on Thursday, Brown borrowed Alderman’s motorcycle, and was involved in an accident while riding with Sally Wiess. Brown subsequently repaired the motorcycle, and returned it to Alderman on Thursday evening. (T. 754-755, 841, 1216). Despite his anger about the damage to the motorcycle, Brown testified that Alderman still requested Brown’s help in murdering the victim. Brown then asked the victim to take him home to Bloomingdale, and testified that Alderman was later angry with Brown for not having killed the victim on this trip.
On Saturday, September 21, 1974, Brown testified that Alderman called him and requested Brown to come to Alderman’s apartment. (T. 757, 863). Upon Brown’s arrival at the apartment at approximately 5:30 or 6:00 p.m., Alderman handed Brown a wrench, and instructed Brown to go into the bedroom and hit the victim. (T. 758, 867-868). Alderman then simulated Brown leaving the apartment, went into the bedroom with the victim, and later returned, pretending that Brown had returned to the apartment. (T. 759, 871). Alderman and Brown then began playing records on the stereo, and Alderman went and woke up the victim to have her clean up after Alderman’s dog in the dining room. (T. 759, 873). After Brown did not attack the victim while she was cleaning up the carpet, Alderman became angry and threatened Brown. (T. 760, 877).
Brown subsequently struck the victim on the back of the head with the wrench. The victim cried out for Brown not to strike her again and ran into the living room. (T. 760-761, 890-891). Alderman then tackled the victim in the living room and held his hands over the victim’s nose and mouth in an attempt to suffocate her. (T. 761-762, 893-894). Brown also attempted to strangle the victim. (T. 762, 894-895). When the victim became unconscious, Brown testified that he told Alderman the victim was dead, but Alderman stated he wanted to make sure. (T. 762-763, 895).
Alderman and Brown then carried the victim into the bathroom, and placed her in the bathtub. (T. 763, 896-898). As Alderman started to run water into the bathtub, Brown returned to the living room and dining room to clean up the blood from the carpeting. (T. 763-764, 898). Alderman then joined Brown, and attempted to clean the carpet with rug shampoo. (T. 763, 898-899). After this, both men both changed clothes. (T. 764-765, 899-900).
Both men then went into the bathroom and Brown pulled aside the shower curtain to see the victim lying face up in the tub, with water covering her body. (T. 765). Alderman and Brown then left the apartment, going first to the Piggly-Wiggly Supermarket at approximately 6:00 to 6:30 p.m., where Alderman borrowed $100, and then going to two Savannah bars, Joey Dee's Bayshore Lounge and the Waving Girl Lounge. (T. 767-768, 900-908). At some point during the evening, Alderman gave Brown $100. (T. 765-766, 900).
At approximately 10:00 p.m., Alderman and Brown returned to Alderman’s apartment, where they removed the victim’s body from the bathtub and wrapped it in a green quilt. (T. 769, 910-911). Both men then placed the victim’s body in the trunk of Alderman’s 1974 Pontiac LeMans. (T. 769-770, 911, 1342). Brown, driving the car, then followed Alderman on the Alderman’s motorcycle to Rincon and Dasher’s Creek. (T. 771, 912). Once at the creek, both men removed the victim’s body from the trunk of the car, and placed it in the driver’s seat of the car. (T. 771, 914, 916). Leaving the engine and the lights on, and the car transmission in drive, at Alderman’s direction, Brown then reached into the window of the car, released the emergency brake and sent the car into the creek. (T. 772, 914-917). After the car did not go all the way into the creek, Alderman directed Brown to open the car door and let the victim’s body fall halfway out of the car. (T. 772, 918). According to Brown, the purpose of all these actions was to make the victim’s death look like an accident. (T. 920).
After removing the green quilt and the rubber trunk mat from the car, both men then left the scene on Alderman’s motorcycle, with Brown driving the vehicle. (T. 772-774, 921-922). On their way to dispose of the quilt and mat at a dump off of Highway 21, Brown testified that they passed a car on Wisenbaker Road. (T. 774-775). Both men then returned to Joey Dee’s Lounge in Savannah, and then went to Johnny Ganem’s establishment to eat. (T. 775-776, 925).
Ronnie Cowart testified that he passed over Dasher’s Creek on his way to Rincon at approximately 10:05 p.m. on September 21, 1974, and saw nothing in the creek. (T. 508-509). Cowart, whose house is one half mile from the creek, then testified that at approximately 10:15 p.m. that evening he heard a car and a motorcycle pass on Baker Hill Road and then turn onto Highway 131. (T. 510-511). According to Cowart, it was unusual to hear a motorcycle at that time of night. (T. 517).
Randy Hodges and Terry Callahan were returning home via Baker Hill Road and Highway 131 at approximately 11:00 p.m. on the evening of September 21, 1974. (T. 524, 542). While on Baker Hill Road, the men met a motorcycle coming from the opposite direction, with a light colored object flapping in the wind as it went by. (T. 525, 542-44). After the men turned onto Highway 131 and approached Dasher’s Creek, they noticed a car in the creek. (T. 528, 544). Hodges jumped out, saw that there was a woman in the car, and noticed that the car lights and interior fan were still on and that the car transmission was in neutral. (T. 529, 545). The victim’s body was laying half out of the car, face up in the water. (T. 529). Hodges noticed blood stains on the car seat. (T. 531). At the same time, Callahan went to Lamar Rahn’s house to call for help. (T. 531, 545). Both men noticed motorcycle tracks approximately 25 to 30 feet from the car, and also saw signs of a motorcycle kickstand. (T. 532, 546-547). Carol Riner Jones also arrived at Dasher’s Creek at approximately 11:00 p.m. on the evening of September 21, 1974. (T. 556). She also noticed that the car was in neutral, and that the car’s air conditioning lights were still on. (T. 557).
Effingham County Sheriff Lloyd Fulcher was summoned to the Dasher’s Creek scene. (T. 560-561). Sheriff Fulcher found the victim’s car in the water adjacent to the bridge, with the car lights and air conditioning fan on. (T. 561). There was no apparent physical damage to the car. Id. The victim’s body was removed from the car, and taken to a hospital, where a laceration at the base of her skull was later noticed. (T. 562). Sheriff Fulcher also observed that there were no skid marks from the car, and that motorcycle tracks were apparent in the area. (T. 571). The sheriff also noticed blood stains on the seat of the car, and that the pasteboard covering of the car trunk had been removed. (T. 574).
Garden City Police Officer J. D. Crosby, at the request of Sheriff Fulcher, went to Alderman’s apartment at approximately 12:00 to 12:15 a.m. on September 22, 1974. (T. 591). The apartment was locked. Id. Officer Crosby returned to the apartment at approximately 2:30 a.m. and found Alderman there with a white female. (T. 592). The officer informed Alderman that the victim had been involved in a traffic accident, and Alderman evidenced no reaction. (T. 592-593). Alderman was then asked to accompany Effingham County authorities to the hospital. (T. 597).
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent H. H. Keadle went to the Effingham County Hospital on September 21, 1974. (T. 612). His observation of the victim’s body showed a tear in the skin at the base of the victim’s head, and bloody material around the victim’s nose and mouth. Id. When Alderman arrived at the hospital at approximately 4:15 a.m. on September 22nd, Alderman was accompanied by a white female, Ms. Gerlinda Carmak. (T. 613-615). After both Agent Keadle and Sheriff Fulcher noticed a red/brown stain in the seat and crotch of Alderman’s pants, as well as on Alderman’s white belt, Alderman’s clothes were taken from him. (T. 573, 616-617, 1303-1304).
Further investigation led Agent Keadle to John Brown, who eventually gave a statement incriminating both himself and Alderman. (T. 623-625, 952-953). Agent Keadle’s investigation also confirmed that there were blood stains on the driver’s seat in Alderman’s car, that the car gear shift had been in neutral and that the lights were left on in the car. (T. 636-637). No extreme dents or damaged parts were evident anywhere on the car. (T. 638). Agent Keadle also observed the motorcycle marks at the scene where the car had been found. (T. 639). Agent Keadle recovered a stained portion of a green rug, which had been removed from Alderman’s apartment by the victim’s mother, as well as Alderman’s motorcycle helmet. (T. 620, 608-609, 639).
Alderman’s father, Jack Alderman, Sr., removed a crescent wrench from Alderman’s apartment on September 30, 1974, and turned it over to Chief Curtis Thompson of the Garden City Police Department. (T. 599-602). Chief Thompson was also responsible for transporting Brown back to Garden City from Statesboro, during which Brown made a number of incriminating statements. (T. 604, 948-951).
Forensic Serologist Elizabeth Quarles, of the Georgia State Crime Laboratory, examined the blood found on Alderman’s clothes. (T. 651, 655). The blood, type A, subtype M, was consistent with the victim’s blood. (T. 653, 656-657). An examination of the victim’s automobile revealed one palm print and four fingerprints, which were stipulated to be Alderman’s. (T. 627). Brown’s fingerprints were not found on the car. (T. 645).
Dr. Charles Sullenger, performed the autopsy upon the victim. (T. 674). Dr. Sullenger discovered a laceration wound on the back of the victim’s head, which was inflicted by a relatively blunt instrument. (T. 678, 683). Dr. Sullenger also observed liquid in the victim’s lungs, which he determined had entered the lungs while the victim was still breathing. (T. 687-689). The doctor found no evidence of any abnormalities in the victim’s heart, no scratches on the victim’s forearms and no evidence of strangulation. (T. 688, 706).
According to Dr. Sullenger, the victim died as a result of asphyxia due to drowning. (T. 690). The doctor also concluded that the blow to the victim’s head did not occur as the result of a car accident, and that there was not enough blood present in the car to even establish that the blow to the head had occurred in the car. (T. 706, 726). Dr. Sullenger testified that it appeared the victim had been hit on the head somewhere else, then placed into the car and then driven into the creek. (T. 729). Dr. Sandra Conradi, a Forensic Pathologist employed by the University of South Carolina, testified on behalf of Alderman and in rebuttal to Dr. Sullenger’s autopsy report. (T. 966, 971). Dr. Conradi’s opinion, based upon her review of portions of the trial transcript, the autopsy report and other documents, suggested a number of ways in which the autopsy report could have been more complete. (T. 971-976).
Alderman testified on his own behalf, denying completely the story told by Brown. (T. 1215-1216, 1309, 1346, 1344). Instead, Alderman testified that after an argument, both he and the victim left the apartment separately on the evening of Saturday, September 21, 1974. (T. 1273, 1275, 1332, 1334).
Alderman testified he took a bus to Savannah, Georgia, and then spent time in the Bayshore Lounge and the Waving Girl Bar. (T. 1277-1281). After seeing Brown and a number of other persons at these bars, Alderman testified he took a taxi back to his apartment, arriving at approximately 10:00 p.m. (T. 1282-1283).
As the victim had not returned to the apartment, Alderman testified that he decided to go Rincon to see the victim at her grandmother’s. (T. 1284-1286, 1335). Alderman testified that while on his way to Rincon on his motorcycle, he observed his car off the bridge at Dasher’s Creek. (T. 1286, 1321, 1290). Alderman stopped his motorcycle, and went down to the partially submerged car where he saw the victim. (T. 1290-1291). The car tail lights and interior lights were on, and the car door was open with the victim hanging out of the car, her face submerged in the water. (T. 1290-1292, 1336).
Alderman stated he squatted down and picked the victim’s head out of the water, placing it in his lap. (T. 1292, 1336). Hearing a noise, Alderman testified he suddenly became fearful, and fled the scene. (T. 1294-95). Forgetting that he had found his wife’s body, Alderman stated he then drove to Savannah where he returned to the Bayshore Lounge and then went to Johnny Ganem’s for breakfast with friends. (T. 1296-1298, 1313, 1320). Alderman then offered Gerlinda Carmak a ride home, and they stopped at his apartment on the way for Alderman to obtain a jacket. (T. 1299-1301). At that point, according to Alderman, the police took him to Effingham County and the hospital where he identified his wife’s body. (T. 1300-1302).
The testimony of Dr. Herbert Smith was presented at trial to confirm that Alderman had been in such shock from finding his wife’s body that he left the scene and forgot about the victim’s death. (T. 1035-1052). Additionally, the testimony of a number of other witnesses was presented to corroborate portions of Alderman’s testimony. (T. 880-885, 1061-1067, 1090-1096, 1100-1108, 1115-1126). A number of character witnesses were also presented on behalf of Alderman. (T. 885-888, 1068-1090, 1126-1161).
Finally, the testimony of Andrew J. Ryan, III, the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted Alderman at the first trial, was presented. (T. 1024-1034). Mr. Ryan testified that no promise of any benefit was made to John Brown in order to obtain Brown’s testimony. (T. 1031-1033). As Brown himself had pointed out, not only was there no deal for his testimony, but Brown was subsequently found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. (T. 933-936).
The Original Trial and Appeal Proceedings (1974-1983)
Alderman was originally convicted in the Superior Court of Chatham County for the 1974 murder of his wife. Alderman was sentenced to death for this offense and the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and death sentence in Alderman v. State, 241 Ga. 496, 245 S.E.2d 642 (1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 99 (1978), r’hrg denied, 439 U.S. 1132 (1979).
Alderman then challenged his conviction and death sentence by filing a petition for state habeas corpus relief. On June 4, 1979, the state habeas corpus court conducted a hearing and on that same date denied the application for habeas corpus relief. The Georgia Supreme Court denied Alderman a certificate of probable cause to appeal. The United States Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari in Alderman v. Balkcom, 444 U.S. 1103 (1980), r’hrg denied, 445 U.S. 973 (1980).
Alderman then filed an application for federal habeas corpus relief in the United States District Court, and federal habeas corpus relief was granted as to both his conviction and sentence. Alderman v. Austin, 498 F. Supp. 1134 (S.D. GA. 1980). On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the grant of relief as to Alderman’s death sentence, but reversed the grant of relief as to his conviction. Alderman v. Austin, 663 F.2d 558 (5th Cir. Unit B 1981); Alderman v. Austin, 695 F.2d 124 (5th Cir. Unit B 1983) (en banc).
The Resentencing Trial (1984)
Alderman’s resentencing trial was conducted on March 26-31, 1984 in the Superior Court of Chatham County, Georgia. On April 1, 1984, Alderman was again sentenced to death.
The Direct Appeal (1985)
The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Alderman’s newly imposed death sentence on February 28, 1985. Alderman v. State, 254 Ga. 206, 324 S.E.2d 68 (1985). Alderman filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on October 15, 1985. Alderman v. Georgia, 474 U.S. 911, 106 S.Ct. 282 (1985). Alderman then filed a petition for rehearing, which was also denied by the United States Supreme Court on November 18, 1995. Alderman v. Georgia, 474 U.S. 1000 (1985).
FirstStateHabeas Corpus Petition (1986-1988)
Alderman, represented by G. Terry Jackson, filed a state habeas corpus petition in the Superior Court of Butts County on February 6, 1986. An amended petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed June 16, 1987, and a second amended habeas corpus petition was filed June 25, 1987. An evidentiary hearing was held on June 29, 1987. On September 10, 1987, the state habeas corpus court denied Alderman state habeas corpus relief. Alderman’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal filed in the Georgia Supreme Court was denied on October 28, 1987. Alderman then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on March 7, 1988. Alderman v. Georgia, 485 U.S. 943 (1988). Alderman then filed a petition for rehearing, which was also denied by the United States Supreme Court on April 25, 1988. Alderman v. Georgia, 485 U.S. 1030 (1988).
First Federal Habeas Corpus Petition (1988-1994)
Alderman, represented by G. Terry Jackson, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia on June 20, 1988. The district court denied Alderman federal habeas corpus relief on June 6, 1989. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to the United States District Court for a hearing on a claim concerning the traverse jury. After holding an evidentiary hearing, the district court entered an order denying the petition on all grounds on June 22, 1992. On October 23, 1992, the district court granted Alderman a certificate of probable cause to appeal. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court and denied habeas corpus relief on April 14, 1994. Alderman v. Zant, 22 F.3d 1541 (11th Cir. 1994). Alderman then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on December 12, 1994. Alderman v. Thomas, 513 U.S. 1061, 115 S.Ct. 673 (1994).
SecondStateHabeas Corpus Petition (1994-2002)
Alderman, represented by Thomas H. Dunn, filed a second state habeas corpus petition in the Superior Court of Butts County on December 22, 1994. An amended petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed on March 29, 1999. An evidentiary hearing was held on May 5-6, 1999. On December 29, 1999, the state habeas corpus court denied Alderman state habeas corpus relief. Alderman’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal filed in the Georgia Supreme Court was denied on January 10, 2002. Alderman then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on October 21, 2002. Alderman v. Head, 537 U.S. 995, 123 S.Ct. 476 (2002).
Second Federal Habeas Corpus Petition (2003-2004)
Alderman, represented by Thomas H. Dunn, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia on February 10, 2003. The district court denied Alderman federal habeas corpus relief on July 19, 2004. The district court denied a motion to alter and amend judgment on August 3, 2004. The district court denied Alderman a certificate of appealability on October 4, 2004.
11th Circuit Court of Appeals (2004-2006)
On November 15, 2004, the Eleventh Circuit denied Alderman’s application for a certificate of appealability. On June 27, 2005, following an application to the court en banc for a certificate of appealability, the Eleventh Circuit granted Alderman’s certificate of appealability as to only one issue raised in the federal habeas corpus court’s order of July 16, 2004. The case was orally argued before the Eleventh Circuit on February 13, 2006. On October 30, 2006, the Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion which denied relief. Alderman v. Terry, 468 F.3d 775 (11th Cir. 2006). Alderman filed a petition for panel rehearing, which was denied on December 8, 2006.
United StatesSupreme Court (2007)
Alderman filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on May 7, 2007, which was denied October 1, 2007.