STEWART v. TEXAS
Annotate this Case
474 U.S. 866 (1985)
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U.S. Supreme Court
STEWART v. TEXAS , 474 U.S. 866 (1985)
474 U.S. 866
Darryl Elroy STEWART
Supreme Court of the United States
October 7, 1985
On petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas.
The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.
Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
Petitioner in this case seeks no revolutionary expansion of the principles underlying this Court's current death-penalty jurisprudence. All he asks is the benefit of existing law as proclaimed by a majority of this Court. This Court has declared that a sentence of death may not be imposed on one "who aids and abets a felony in the course of which a murder is committed by others but who does not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend that a killing take place or that lethal force will be employed." Enmund v. Florida, 458 U.S. 782, 797, 3376 (1982). Yet the Court's refusal to consider petitioner's case countenances just that result. Even if I believed, therefore, that the death penalty could constitutionally be imposed under certain circumstances,1 I would grant certiorari in this case and vacate the death sentence imposed here.
At his murder trial, petitioner Darryl Elroy Stewart and his accomplice Kelvin Kelly provided conflicting theories about the crime. According to Stewart's statement, which the State introduced at trial, he and Kelly were walking past the deceased's apartment when Kelly saw through the open door a stereo that he wanted to steal. Kelly told Stewart that he was going to run in and grab the stereo, and instructed Stewart to stand guard at the door. Stewart heard a woman scream; heard Kelly attempt to force sexual relations on her; saw glimpses of a struggle; and heard two shots. Thus, Stewart's statement indicated that he agreed to assist in Kelly's theft of the stereo; that Kelly strayed from the plan to steal the stereo and attempted to commit a sexual offense against the occupant of the apartment; and that during the course of this offense Kelly killed the victim. If Stewart's account of the crime is accepted, he did not himself kill, did not attempt to kill, and did not intend that a killing would take place. According to Kelly, however, it was Stewart who entered the apartment to commit burglary, Stewart who had the gun, Stewart who attempted a sexual assault on the victim, and Stewart who killed her, while Kelly waited at the door; the State introduced some evidence corroborating this story. Kelly was promised, in exchange for his testimony, that he would receive no more than 50 years in prison.
The jury was asked to resolve this conflicting evidence and determine the guilt or innocence of Stewart on the murder charge. In order to guide the jury in that endeavor, the trial judge gave a lengthy instruction on the Texas "law of parties," set out in full in the margin. [Footnote 2] 686 S.W.2d 118, 123 (Tex.Crim.App.1984). [474 U.S. 866 , 868]