Heath V Alabama Case Brief

Topics: United States, Supreme Court of the United States, Court Pages: 2 (464 words) Published: June 8, 2011
Heath v. Alabama, 472 U.S. 82 (1985).

Petitioner = Larry Gene Heath
Respondent = Alabama

The petitioner, a resident of Russel County, Alabama hired Charles Owens and Gregory Lumpkin to kill his wife, Rebecca McGuire Heath, for $2,000. Mr. Heath left his residence in Alabama to meet Mr. Owens and Mr. Lumpkin in Georgia, just across the Alabama state line. Mr. Heath led the two men back to his residence in Alabama, gave them the keys to his car and home. The two men then kidnapped Mrs Heath. The car belonging to the Heath’s was later found on the side of a road in Troup County, Georgia. Mrs. Heath's body was inside. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

By the same act, the petitioner committed crimes in two states. The men who he hired kidnapped his wife in one state and killed her in another. In February 1982, the petitioner pleaded guilty to “malice murder” in Georgia in exchange for a sentence of life imprisonment. However, he was also prosecuted in an Alabama trial court for murder during a kidnapping. He was convicted and sentenced to death from the Alabama court. He claimed that the second trial exposed him to Double Jeopardy in violation of the clause of the Fifth Amendment. Mr. Heath appealed, but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the conviction.

Under the dual sovereignty doctrine, is it legally permissible for two states to prosecute the same defendant for the same offense without committing Double Jeopardy?

Yes. It is legally permissible for two states to prosecute the same defendant for the same offense without committing Double Jeopardy.

Justice O'Connor ruled that "the dual sovereignty doctrine . . . compels the conclusion that successive prosecutions by two States for the same conduct are not barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause.” The court argued that Fifth...
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