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Haley v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

May 3, 2019



          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Ches Clark Department of Public Advocacy Frankfort, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky Joseph A. Beckett Assistant Attorney General Frankfort, Kentucky




         Bruce Dewayne Haley appeals from the Bell Circuit Court's order denying his motions to vacate his sentence pursuant to Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure (RCr) 11.42 and for an evidentiary hearing. Finding no error, we affirm.


         The events of this case stem from Haley's convictions, following a jury trial in Bell Circuit Court, on one count of murder for the shooting death of Michael Ray Dozier and one count of first-degree assault for the shooting of Phillip Gray. The facts underlying Haley's convictions were outlined by the Kentucky Supreme Court as follows:

On November 11, 2002, in Bell County, Trooper Keith Baker of the Kentucky State Police was dispatched to the home of Bruce and Kathy Haley, regarding a reported feud between the Haley and Dozier families. Rhonda Dozier, the ex-wife of the decedent, Michael Dozier, who was living in his trailer at the time of his death, provided the reason for the ongoing feud. She stated that after she and Michael divorced in July 2001, she went on a weekend trip with Bruce Haley to Gatlinburg, not knowing Haley was married. Michael Dozier found out about the trip and it became a source of "bickering" between the Dozier and Haley families. The feud resulted in various criminal charges against Rhonda and Michael Dozier, as well as Kathy Haley.
After referring Mrs. Haley to the county attorney, Trooper Baker proceeded to the residence of Michael and Rhonda Dozier in an attempt to ease the tensions between the two families. While knocking on the door at the Dozier residence at approximately 9:00 p.m., Trooper Baker heard gunshots from what he described as more than one gun, and more than one shot. He returned to his cruiser to investigate further, and shortly thereafter encountered Phillip Gray coming off an embankment near railroad tracks. Gray had been shot several times in the back and left arm, and did not tell the trooper who shot him, but did state he had been walking down the road drinking beer and had been shot, and did not indicate anyone else was with him.
A second officer arrived and also asked Gray who shot him, but he also informed the other officer that he did not want to tell, and that he would take care of it. Gray was sent to the hospital and the officers conducted a search of the area around the railroad tracks. The officers recovered a fully loaded .22 caliber pistol from Gray's back pocket. They then searched the embankment and railroad tracks where Gray had descended from. They found a .410 shotgun with an expended shell in the chamber and a .12 gauge shotgun with a live round in the chamber, as well as, a live 30/30 cartridge, an expended casing or hull of a 30/30 round, and 5 expended casings or hulls of .22 caliber rounds. They noted that the area overlooked the Dozier residence.
At the hospital, the doctors discovered a 4″ wide by 5″ long wound to Gray's left upper arm, a wound to the armpit, and a wound in the back. A blood sample revealed Gray's blood alcohol level was .243.
The following morning, sometime after 7:00 a.m., an area youth discovered the body of Michael Dozier lying in the underbrush on the embankment. He left and called the police, who arrived at 8:27 a.m. The body was removed from the scene for autopsy. A box with three .12 gauge shotgun shells was found in the victim's pocket.
Dozier's body had 3 gunshot wounds: a flesh wound to his thigh muscle, another flesh wound to the side of his kneecap, and a fatal shot to the lower front of the chest on his right side. There was a white crushed-up substance in his jean pocket which was identified as hydrocodone, an opiate similar to Loratab. Hydrocodone was found in his system and his blood alcohol level was .217.
Appellant Haley, who was immediately charged with killing Dozier, was arrested about 9:15 a.m. on an unrelated matter. He consented to a warrantless search of his home. The police collected a variety of weapons from his residence, all of which were introduced at trial, including: a Marlin Firearms Corp., Model 336SC .30/.30 caliber lever action rifle; a Savage Arms, Stephens Model 89, .22 caliber lever action rifle; a Keystone Sporting Arms, "Cricket" .22 caliber youth rifle; and a .30/.30 live Winchester round.
At trial, a KSP firearms expert testified to the variety of guns and ammunition obtained from the railroad tracks, from the Haley residence, and from Phillip Gray and the body of Michael Dozier. Specifically, the expert found: (1) the bullets removed from Michael Dozier's body were from a .22 caliber weapon and did not come from the .22 caliber guns carried by Dozier or Gray; (2) the spent .22 casings found at the crime scene were all from the same gun but not from any of the guns found at the Haley residence or at the scene; (3) none of the guns removed from the Haley residence could be positively identified as having been fired in the shooting of either victim; (4) one of the spent .30/.30 shells found at the railroad tracks had been cycled through the same gun as the live .30/.30 round found at the Haley home; and (5) neither of the .30/.30 shells could have passed through the Marlin .30/.30 caliber rifle from the Haley home.
Thus, the testimony of Gray was the only direct link to Bruce Haley's involvement in the shootings. Gray testified that he and Dozier went up to the railroad tracks with a case of beer and the two shotguns to watch Dozier's home. He said they saw someone approach on the railroad tracks toward them. Dozier yelled twice at the person, but there was no answer. Gray testified that the individual was Bruce Haley, and that Haley was the first to fire, and, in response, Dozier and Gray returned fire.
Gray was approximately three feet away from him when he shot. According to Gray, Haley put a pistol in his pants after firing the first round, and had a rifle in his other hand. When he saw the rifle, Gray ran and was shot in the back. Dozier ...

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