The Prudential Insurance Company of America v. Boyd et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING 19 First MOTION for Disbursement of Funds. The proceeds from Cormella Boyd's life insurance policy, $548,556.14, plus interest, are therefore to be distributed to Frederick Montez Boyd, the altern ate beneficiary under Cormella Boyd's life insurance policy upon application by Frederick Montez Boyd to the Clerk of Court for distribution of the funds interpleaded in this case, however, no such distribution shall occur before the time to file a Notice of Appeal of this Order has expired without such notice having been filed. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 3/2/2016. (JLC)
2016 Mar-02 PM 02:02
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
FREDERICK L BOYD,
FREDERICK MONTEZ BOYD,
) Case No.: 1:14-CV-1110-VEH
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case began as an interpleader action by Prudential Insurance
Company of North America. (Tr. 3:13–16).
Cormella Boyd had a life insurance policy through prudential’s group
insurance plan for Walmart. (Tr. 3:15–16). Cormella Boyd was covered for
$37,000 basic life insurance, $200,000 optional term life insurance, tr. 3:18–21,
and $200,000 accidental death and dismemberment insurance. (Tr. 4:14–17).
Frederick L Boyd was designated as the primary beneficiary under these policies,
Section I’s Stipulated Facts are documented as stipulated by the parties in the hearing
of February 17, 2016. These facts, as well as the following Findings of Fact, Section II infra,
include citations to a draft transcript of the hearing as appropriate. Section II also contains the
court’s inferences from the facts presented at the hearing.
tr. 4:24, Frederick Montez Boyd is the alternate beneficiary. (Tr. 5:2–4).
Frederick Montez Boyd is her son, and Montez Boyd is her husband.
(Tr. 3:16–17). Frederick Montez Boyd is commonly referred to as Montez Boyd;
the father is commonly known as Frederick Boyd. (Tr. 2:4–6).
On July 23, 2012, Cormella Boyd died from multiple gunshot
wounds. (Tr. 5:3–4). Frederick Boyd is Carmella Boyd’s killer. (Tr. 6:3–10).
Frederick Boyd has been charged with her murder. (Tr. 5:4–5.4:2).
Frederick Boyd’s trial is pending in Calhoun County Circuit Court. (Tr. 5:5–6).
Frederick Boyd was first evaluated for mental capacity approximately
eight months after the shooting, and the examiner determined that his capacity was
not too diminished to proceed. (Tr. 9:21–24). In June 2014, he was found to be
extremely paranoid and psychotic, and the examiner recommended inpatient
treatment and evaluation. (Tr. 9:24–10:3). Frederick Boyd was found incompetent
to stand trial on October 2, 2014, and he was committed to Taylor Hardin Secure
Medical Facility until such time as he could be restored to competence. (Tr.
Prudential paid $548,556.14, inclusive of interest, after Cormella
Boyd’s death into the office of the clerk for the United States District Court for the
Northern District of Alabama. (Tr. 5:12–17). Thereafter, Prudential was dismissed
from the case, and the parties were realigned. (Tr. 5:17–20).
Montez Boyd filed a motion to approve distribution of the funds to
him, alleging that Frederick Boyd is precluded from receiving any payment of this
money due to Frederick’s Boyd’s role as Cormella Boyd’s killer. (Tr. 5:23–6:2).
Frederick Boyd’s current custodians decline to give an opinion of his
mental state at the time of Cormella’s killing until his faculties have returned. (Tr.
Findings of Fact
The night of July 22, 2012, Cormella and Frederick Boyd had an
argument. (Tr. 53:16–23). Cormella Boyd was “intense,” but Frederick Boyd was
quiet. (Tr. 54:9–13). Frederick brought up an “Uncle Milton” during the argument,
but Cormella told Frederick to drop the issue. (Tr. 66:19–24).
Frederick Boyd rose and left for work as usual the following morning,
July 23, 2012. (Tr. 56:11–16). Driving Cormella’s Mitsubishi Galant, Frederick
went to work briefly at the Anniston Police Department before returning home.
When he got home, Frederick knocked on the door. (See tr. 57:1–2).
Cormella, who had been asleep, went downstairs and answered the door. (Tr.
57:2–3). Frederick walked in, and he and Cormella went upstairs. (See tr. 57:3–6).
Frederick pointed a gun at Cormella, who screamed as Frederick shot
her eight times. (See tr. 58:2–3; 45:22–25). Frederick then ran down the stairs,
slammed the front door, cranked his GMC Yukon, and drove away. (See tr. 58:3–7;
Montez Boyd had been in his room when Frederick arrived, and that is
where he remained until after the shooting. (Tr. 57:1–59:8). Once he heard
Frederick leave, Montez called 911, and the dispatcher instructed him to stay on
the line and in his room. (Tr. 58:7–10). While waiting on the police to arrive,
Montez heard heavy breathing outside of his room, like an animal or someone
gasping for breath. (Tr. 60:9–16). Eventually, a police officer arrived, and he spoke
to Montez through the latter’s bedroom window so that Montez could relay what
had happened to the officer. (Tr. 59:2–7). The officer directed Montez to come
downstairs and open the door. (Tr. 59:7–8).
Upon exiting his room, Montez found his mother, Cormella, in a pool
of her own blood in front of his door. (Tr. 59:22–23). She had several gunshot
wounds, was not breathing, and her eyes were dead. (Tr. 59:23–60:2). He stepped
over her body, tr. 60:5–8, and went downstairs to open the door for the officer. (Tr.
60:2–4). She would later be pronounced dead at the scene. (Tr. 29:20–21).
Meanwhile, Frederick proceeded to the home of Milton Rowe, a
relative, who he believed to have been having an affair with Cormella. (Tr.
81:8–82:7). The trip took about 15 minutes, and when he arrived, Frederick shot
Milton. (See tr. 79:5–21). Concern about Cormella’s perceived infidelity motivated
the shootings. (Tr. 82:8–11).
From Rowe’s home, Frederick drove to Meridian, Mississippi. (Tr.
82:24–83:16; 89:6). He then turned himself in to the officials in Mississippi, telling
them that he had shot his wife and his uncle. (Tr. 83:17–84:1).
Frederick informed the Mississippi police that he began to have
memories of his wife having been part of a plot to kill him. (Tr. 88:14–16). He
claimed to have confronted her about it the night before, and she responded “Huh,”
which angered him. (Tr. 88:17–18). Frederick claimed that there had previously
been three people he could trust, but he could no longer trust them. (Tr. 88:18–19).
He stated that “I’m a dead man when I go back to Alabama. I just wanted the Feds
to know what was going on over there,” and he spoke of corruption within the
Anniston Police Department. (Tr. 88:21–89:2).
The next time Montez saw his father, at a later date in 2012, he visited
him in jail. The two discussed Montez’s shooting ability, and Frederick both
recognized Montez and had a working memory of Frederick’s instruction to
Montez about how to shoot. (Tr. 61:4–62:25). Frederick apologized for what he
did. (Tr. 63:12).
Murder is a felony in Alabama. (85:13–17).
When questioned by police during the investigation of Cormella’s
death, Montez informed them that Frederick had cancer when Montez was young,
and it traumatized Frederick. (Tr. 66:11–12). Frederick had said to Montez that his
memory was coming back, and that Frederick’s Uncle Milton had something to do
with Frederick’s perceived mistreatment at the hands of the Anniston Police
Department. (Tr. 66:13–17).
George Teague, Cormella Boyd’s father, informed the police that
Frederick had been acting strange lately and that he did not like to talk on the
phone. In particular, Frederick would often remove the battery from his phone for
fear of global positioning. Teague was unaware of any jealousy between Cormella
and Frederick. (Tr. 86:12–20).
While in custody, Frederick refused to speak with the local authorities
about Milton Rowe and would only speak with the FBI. (Tr. 90:2–13). He also
refused to be interviewed in the Calhoun County jail (he was ultimately
interviewed in Etowah County), and when he spoke with the FBI, he informed
them that he had been kidnapped by Uncle Milton and escaped with a knife. (Tr.
91:8–15). He claimed to have been arrested and placed in Calhoun County jail
where he was drugged by three deputies, although the charges were later dropped.
(Tr. 91:16–19). There is no record of such an arrest. (Tr. 91:19–20). He informed
them that he had sexual contact with numerous people while in school, including
Anniston police officers. (Tr. 92:4–9). The investigating officers could not verify
this information. (Tr. 97:3). Frederick also said he believed his wife was poisoning
him. (Tr. 98:19–21).
Montez summarized all this during the February 17, 2016, hearing by
stating that his father had been behaving strangely for a few weeks before the
shooting. (Tr. 68:3–10).
Alabama’s slayer statute, ALA. CODE § 43-8-253, is a codification of the
equitable maxim that a person should not profit from his wrongdoing. See Weaver
v. Hollis, 22 So.2d 525, 528–29 (Ala. 1945). Relevant here, section 43-8-253(c)
provides that “[a] named beneficiary of a . . . life insurance policy . . . who
feloniously and intentionally kills . . . the person upon whose life the policy is
issued is not entitled to any benefit under the . . . policy . . . and it becomes payable
as though the killer had predeceased the decedent.” “In the absence of a conviction
of felonious and intentional killing the court may determine by a preponderance of
evidence whether the killing was felonious and intentional for purposes of this
section.” ALA. CODE § 43-8-253(e).
The criminal code of Alabama and section 43-8-253 are in pari materia, so
the court turns to the criminal code to determine the meaning of “intentional and
felonious.” “A person acts intentionally with respect to a result or to conduct
described by a statute defining an offense, when his purpose is to cause that result
or engage in that conduct.” ALA. CODE § 13A-2-2(1). A felony is “[a]n offense for
which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year is authorized.”
ALA. CODE § 13A-1-2(8). Thus, the conduct must be intentional; it must constitute
a crime for which imprisonment in excess of one year is authorized; and, since a
killing is required, it must be a homicide.
The qualifying crimes under Alabama law are murder under section 13A-62(a)(1) (“intentional murder”) and manslaughter under section 13A-6-3(a)(2)
(“voluntary manslaughter”). A person is only liable for voluntary manslaughter
when the elements of a greater form of homicide are satisfied but the person is
found less culpable by operation of section 13A-6-3(b) because the killing was
committed in the heat of passion. The crimes that may be reduced to voluntary
manslaughter are intentional murder under section 13A-6-2(a)(1) and extreme
indifference murder under 13A-6-2(a)(2); the latter of which requires a mental
state of recklessness. Since there is no free-standing mental state for voluntary
manslaughter, satisfaction of the slayer statute can only be determined by reference
to the mental states found in sections 13A-6-3(a)(1)–(2). The upshot here is that a
civil court may operationalize its analysis of the slayer statute’s application by
considering first, whether the purported slayer has committed intentional murder,
and, if so, second, whether he or she did so in the heat of passion. The End.
This analytical framework is supported by the dispositive status assigned to
a conviction for a felonious and intentional killing for purposes of the slayer
statute’s application, see ALA. CODE § 43-8-253(e), and that section’s comments
suggesting that the slayer statute’s application in the absence of a criminal
conviction is reflective of the lower burden of proof in a civil case and “the
different considerations” of the slayer statute; e.g., that there can be no criminal
prosecution for a murder-suicide, but the slayer statute’s “punishment” may still be
applicable. ALA. CODE § 43-8-253 comment. Thus, the substantive conduct
covered by the slayer statute and intentional murder/voluntary manslaughter is the
same; it is the burden of proof and reach of the statute that varies.
Intentional murder occurs when a person “[w]ith intent to cause the death of
another person . . . causes the death of that person,” ALA. CODE § 13A-6-2(a)(1). I
find, by a preponderance of the evidence before me, that Frederick intentionally
murdered Cormella. It is undisputed that Frederick caused Cormella’s death. There
is strong evidence of his intent to cause her death, as well. Frederick shot her eight
times, which would be an unlikely occurrence if the shooting had not been
intentional. He switched vehicles from Cormellas’s Galant to his Yukon after
shooting her, which would also be a strange thing to do had he not planned to
murder Cormella and then Milton. His flight from Alabama also demonstrates that
his actions were part of a scheme that he concocted. Further, the evidence reflects
that Frederick’s reason for killing Cormella is the rumor of an affair. Finally, he
drove to Mississippi, turned himself in, and admitted killing Cormella. Since
Frederick intended to cause Cormella’s death and actually did so, he killed her
feloniously and intentionally. The slayer statute, ALA. CODE § 43-8-253(c), is
Frederick’s incompetence to stand trial raises the specter of another issue,
which is whether the insanity defense to criminal liability also applies as a defense
to the application of the slayer statute. Compare Estate of Armstrong v. Armstrong,
170 So. 3d 510 (Miss. 2015) (Yes!), with Osman v. Osman, 737 S.E.2d 876 (Va.
2013) (No!). It is an open question in Alabama, see Ford v. Ford, 512 A.2d 389,
401 (Md. 1986)2 (surveying the states on the issue), but it is also one that the court
need not take up. Aside from some testimony by Montez indicating that his father
It does not appear Alabama has reached the issue in the thirty years since Ford.
had been acting strangely, the only evidence before me of Frederick’s unusual
behavior at or before the time of the murder was a statement by George Teague
that Frederick disliked using cell phones and would remove his phone battery. This
falls far short of demonstrating that Frederick’s “mind is so diseased that either he
cannot distinguish between right and wrong as to the particular offense in question
or he cannot resist an impulse to commit such offense if solely produced by his
mental disease.” Johnson v. State, 319 So. 2d 725, 727 (Ala. Crim. App. 1975).
Accordingly, this issue of state law need not be resolved.
For the foregoing reasons, Frederick L. Boyd cannot benefit from Cormella
Boyd. The proceeds from Cormella’s life insurance policy, $548,556.14, plus
interest, are therefore to be distributed to Frederick Montez Boyd, the alternate
beneficiary under Cormella Boyd’s life insurance policy.
Upon application by Frederick Montez Boyd to the Clerk of Court for
distribution of the funds interpleaded in this case, the Clerk of Court is
DIRECTED to make such distribution. Provided, however, that no such
distribution shall occur before the time to file a notice of appeal of this order has
expired without such notice having been filed.
DONE and ORDERED this 2nd day of March, 2016.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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