Alfonso Collier v. State of Alabama

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REL: April 26, 2019 Notice: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the advance sheets of Southern Reporter. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Alabama Appellate Courts, 300 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36104-3741 ((334) 229-0649), of any typographical or other errors, in order that corrections may be made before the opinion is printed in Southern Reporter. ALABAMA COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS OCTOBER TERM, 2018-2019 _________________________ CR-17-0799 _________________________ Alfonso Collier v. State of Alabama Appeal from Madison Circuit Court (CC-17-307) McCOOL, Judge. Alfonso Collier was originally indicted for one count of murder, see § 13A-6-2, Ala. Code 1975. Collier was ultimately convicted of the lesser-included offense of criminally negligent homicide, see § 13A-6-4, Ala. Code 1975. On April CR-17-0799 20, 2018, he was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment; that sentence was split, and he was ordered to serve 6 months in jail with the remainder of the sentence to be suspended, with Collier to serve 2 years on supervised probation. Collier was also ordered to pay a $150 Victims Compensation Fund assessment, a $750 bail-bond fee, court costs, and attorney fees. Collier's incarceration was initially deferred; however, after Collier failed to turn himself in to law enforcement to begin serving his term of imprisonment, Collier was arrested. Following a motion from the State, the court subsequently resentenced imprisonment. Collier on May 17, 2018, to 12 months' That sentence was split, and he was ordered to serve 11 months' imprisonment, followed by 2 years' probation. The following evidence was presented at trial. Maricia Foster testified that on April 17, 2016, she was at the home of her daughter, Laricia Foster, with Laricia and Laricia's children. Maricia's other daughter, Leshay, and Leshay's children were also there. Additionally, Collier, Collier's brother, and Collier's mother were at Laricia's house. Collier and Laricia were engaged to be married. According to Maricia, Collier and Laricia had been to a birthday party earlier in 2 CR-17-0799 the day and, when they returned to the house between 8 and 9 P.M., the couple was "bickering." (R. 106.) Maricia testified that she and Laricia were in Laricia's bedroom watching television when Collier came into the bedroom to inform Laricia that he was going to take his brother home. Laricia told Collier to return quickly because Laricia believed Collier always stayed gone too long. According to Maricia, after Collier had been gone for a while, Laricia became agitated. When Collier finally did return to the house, he and Laricia began arguing. Shortly thereafter, Laricia and Collier went outside on the front porch and continued arguing. Maricia then heard Laricia call for her and said "get him off of me." (R. 109.) Maricia looked out the peephole in the front door and saw that Collier had Laricia "pinned up" against the front door. (R. 109.) Maricia went out the back door of the house and went around to the front of the house. Collier was holding Laricia's hands up and he had Laricia "pressed against the door." (R. 110.) Laricia and Collier eventually moved out into the front yard, still arguing. 3 CR-17-0799 According to Maricia, she heard Laricia say "[O]h, so now you're going to pull your gun on me." (R. 112.) Maricia turned and saw Collier and Laricia standing face-to-face in front of Laricia's car. Maricia stated that she could see Collier holding a gun behind his back. Laricia and Collier continued arguing and began "struggling" with one another. (R. 120.) According to Maricia, Laricia lost her balance and began to fall on her back. Collier also began to fall on top of Laricia. Maricia testified that, as Collier was falling, he pointed the gun at Laricia and pulled the trigger. Maricia testified that she began yelling at Collier for shooting Laricia and then telephoned the police. She stated that, as she was on the telephone, she saw Collier searching for something, which was later determined to be the gun, which he had apparently dropped. Collier ran to the back of Laricia's house with the gun. Collier later came back to the front of the house and, according to Maricia, insisted that he did not shoot Laricia; instead, he said, he had shot the ground. Collier tried to rouse Laricia and kept saying "no, no, no," as if in disbelief. (R. 124.) Laricia died as a result of the gunshot wound. 4 CR-17-0799 Dr. Valerie Green, a medical examiner for the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences ("DFS"), performed the autopsy on Laricia. Dr. Green testified that Laricia sustained a gunshot wound from a shot fired at close range. Dr. Green estimated that the barrel of the gun was less than an inch from Laricia's body when the gun was fired. The bullet entered Laricia's left breast and went through her heart, diaphragm, ribs, liver, and adrenal gland. The bullet exited Laricia's body through the right side of her lower back. Collier testified on his own behalf at trial. Collier admitted that he and Laricia had been arguing. According to Collier, when Maricia came outside, he went toward the automobile to retrieve his gun from under the front passenger seat of the car; he said that he intended to leave Laricia's house to walk to the store to wait on his ride to pick him up. Collier testified that he retrieved his gun and closed the car door. Collier claimed that as he began walking toward the front of the car and was putting the gun in his waist band, Laricia began hitting him on the back of his head and then grabbed his wrist and the gun. Laricia then "fell over the [car]." (R. 239.) According to Collier, when Laricia fell, he 5 CR-17-0799 also fell and, when they hit the ground, the gun went off. Collier testified that the gun was loaded, did not have the safety engaged, and had a bullet in the chamber when it was in the car. Collier maintained that he did not mean to shoot Laricia. According to Collier, although he panicked and hid the gun in the backyard, he ultimately told the officers where the gun was located. Collier did not leave the scene; he was present when the officers arrived. After both sides rested and the circuit court instructed the jury on the applicable principles of law, the jury found Collier guilty of criminally negligent homicide. I. First, Collier claims that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for criminally negligent homicide. Specifically, he alleges that "an accidental death does not confer criminal liability on the accused" and, thus, that his conviction is due to be reversed because the evidence suggests that Laricia's death was an accident. (Collier's brief, at 10.) 6 CR-17-0799 Initially, we question whether Collier's claim challenging the sufficiency of the evidence was properly preserved for appellate review. It is well settled that "'[r]eview on appeal is restricted to questions and issues properly and timely raised at trial.' Newsome v. State, 570 So. 2d 703, 717 (Ala. Crim. App. 1989). 'An issue raised for the first time on appeal is not subject to appellate review because it has not been properly preserved and presented.' Pate v. State, 601 So. 2d 210, 213 (Ala. Crim. App. 1992). '"[T]o preserve an issue for appellate review, it must be presented to the trial court by a timely and specific motion setting out the specific grounds in support thereof."' McKinney v. State, 654 So. 2d 95, 99 (Ala. Crim. App. 1995) (citation omitted). 'The statement of specific grounds of objection waives all grounds not specified, and the trial court will not be put in error on grounds not assigned at trial.' Ex parte Frith, 526 So. 2d 880, 882 (Ala. 1987). 'The purpose of requiring a specific objection to preserve an issue for appellate review is to put the trial judge on notice of the alleged error, giving an opportunity to correct it before the case is submitted to the jury.' Ex parte Works, 640 So. 2d 1056, 1058 (Ala. 1994)." Ex parte Coulliette, 857 So. 2d 793, 794-95 (Ala. 2003). A challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence must be raised in a motion to exclude, a motion for a judgment of acquittal, or a motion for a new trial. See Washington v. State, 555 So. 2d 347 (Ala. Crim. App. 1989). A motion for a judgment of acquittal on the charged offense 7 will not preserve for CR-17-0799 appellate evidence review to a support challenge a to conviction the for sufficiency a of the lesser-included offense. See Ellis v. State, 641 So. 2d 333 (Ala. Crim. App. 1994); Washington, supra. Although Collier raised the sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim in his motion for a new trial, which would usually be sufficient to preserve the issue for appeal, the following occurred when the State rested its case during trial: "[Defense counsel:] Judge, at this time it's going to be a rather unusual motion. Defense is going to make a motion for judgment of acquittal at this time to the offense of murder. The [defense] will concede that the lesser included offenses should go to the jury. ".... "[Defense counsel:] ... The defense will concede that there is sufficient evidence for the remaining lesser charges to go to the jury for consideration." (R. 226.) Defense counsel subsequently stated: "Certainly I think the reckless and the negligent elements, there's been sufficient evidence for those for them at least to consider. We still would contend –- you know, obviously contend that no crime has occurred. But I think in good faith I'd have to say that I think that those charges should go before the jury." (R. 226-27.) At the conclusion of the presentation of all the evidence, defense counsel renewed its motion for a judgment of 8 CR-17-0799 acquittal. We question whether Collier's apparent concession during trial that the State had presented sufficient evidence to warrant a determination from the jury on criminally negligent homicide would constitute a waiver of his right to later raise that specific issue in a motion for a new trial. However, even assuming, without deciding, that Collier's sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim was properly preserved for appellate review by raising it in his motion for new trial, Collier is not entitled to relief on that claim because his claim is meritless. The role of this Court when reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence is well settled: "'"In determining the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a conviction, a reviewing court must accept as true all evidence introduced by the State, accord the State all legitimate inferences therefrom, and consider all evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution."' Ballenger v. State, 720 So. 2d 1033, 1034 (Ala. Crim. App. 1998), quoting Faircloth v. State, 471 So. 2d 485, 488 (Ala. Crim. App. 1984), aff'd, 471 So. 2d 493 (Ala. 1985). '"The test used in determining the sufficiency of evidence to sustain a conviction is whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational finder of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."' Nunn v. State, 697 So. 2d 497, 498 (Ala. Crim. App. 1997), quoting O'Neal v. State, 602 So. 2d 462, 464 (Ala. Crim. App. 1992). '"When there is legal evidence from which the jury could, 9 CR-17-0799 by fair inference, find the defendant guilty, the trial court should submit [the case] to the jury, and, in such a case, this court will not disturb the trial court's decision."' Farrior v. State, 728 So. 2d 691, 696 (Ala. Crim. App. 1998), quoting Ward v. State, 557 So. 2d 848, 850 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990). 'The role of appellate courts is not to say what the facts are. Our role ... is to judge whether the evidence is legally sufficient to allow submission of an issue for decision [by] the jury.' Ex parte Bankston, 358 So. 2d 1040, 1042 (Ala. 1978). "'The trial court's denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal must be reviewed by determining whether there was legal evidence before the jury at the time the motion was made from which the jury by fair inference could find the defendant guilty. Thomas v. State, 363 So. 2d 1020 (Ala. Cr. App. 1978). In applying this standard, this court will determine only if legal evidence was presented from which the jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Willis v. State, 447 So. 2d 199 (Ala. Cr. App. 1983). When the evidence raises questions of fact for the jury and such evidence, if believed, is sufficient to sustain a conviction, the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal does not constitute error. McConnell v. State, 429 So. 2d 662 (Ala. Cr. App. 1983).'" Gavin v. State, 891 So. 2d 907, 974 (Ala. Crim. App. 2003), cert. denied, 891 So. 2d 998 (Ala. 2004)(quoting Ward v. State, 610 So. 2d 1190, 1191 (Ala. Crim. App. 1992)). Section 13A-6-4(a), Ala. Code 1975, provides: "A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if he or she causes the death of another 10 person by criminal CR-17-0799 negligence." Section 13A-2-2(4), Ala. Code 1975, defines "criminal negligence" as follows: "A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to a result or to a circumstance which is defined by statute as an offense when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation." In Jones v. State, 514 So. 2d 1060 (Ala. Crim. App. 1987), in which Jones, who had been convicted of murder, argued that the trial court erred in refusing to charge the jury on criminally negligent homicide as a lesser-included offense, this Court stated: "The only difference between manslaughter under § 13A–6–3(a)(1) and criminally negligent homicide is the difference between recklessness and criminal negligence. "'A common denominator in both is that in each instance the underlying conduct must involve a "substantial and unjustifiable risk" that a result or circumstance described in the penal statute will occur or exists. The reckless offender is aware of the risk and "consciously disregards" it. On the other hand, the criminally negligent offender is not aware of the risk created ("fails to perceive") and, therefore, cannot be guilty of consciously disregarding it.' 11 CR-17-0799 "Commentary to § 13A–2–2, Code of Alabama 1975. "'The difference between the terms "recklessly" and "negligently," ... is one of kind, rather than degree. Each actor creates a risk of harm. The reckless actor is aware of the risk and disregards it; the negligent actor is not aware of the risk but should have been aware of it.' "C. Torcia, 1 Wharton's Criminal Law, § 27 (14th ed. 1978)(emphasis in original). "'Negligence "is distinguished from acting purposefully, knowingly, or recklessly in that it does not involve a state of awareness. It is the case where the actor creates inadvertently a risk of which he ought to be aware, considering its nature and degree, the nature and the purpose of his conduct and the care that would be exercised by a reasonable person in his situation." Commentary to Section 13A–6–4.' "Phelps v. State, 435 So. 2d at 164 (emphasis in Phelps)." 514 So. 2d at 1065. In the present case, the following transpired during the State's cross-examination of Collier: "[State:] ... [Y]ou know that gun was loaded, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] You know that that gun had one in the chamber, right? "[Collier:] Yes. 12 CR-17-0799 "[State:] And you knew that gun was cocked, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] You knew that the safety was off, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] And you knew that you had your finger on the trigger and you usually walk around with your finger on the trigger, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] Okay. You know that guns kill people, right? "[Collier:] Yeah, but I -"[State:] Uhhh. "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] You know that guns kill people, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] You know that if a bullet comes out of that gun, there's a good chance, on purpose or not, somebody could die, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] That's a fairly carrying a gun, isn't it? substantial risk of "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] You know that the reason that we have guns that cock and safeties that put on and back pressure presence and that kind of thing is so that guns don't accidentally go off, right? 13 CR-17-0799 "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] And you chose to remove all of those barriers to firing that gun, didn't you? "[Collier:] No. "[State:] You didn't cock it? "[Collier:] It was cocked, was already pre-cocked, it was already done. "[State:] Right, right. So the barrier that normally prevents a gun from firing, all the steps that normally prevent a gun from firing, all the steps that we normally have to go through before I would normally be able to fire it, I'd have to cock it. But you had yours pre-cocked. You removed that barrier, right? "[Collier:] It was already loaded and everything in the car. "[State:] Right. And so you're walking around with a gun that you know can kill somebody, that you've turned all the safety mechanisms off that is ready to kill someone if you have to use it and you got your finger on the trigger, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] Those are all choices you made knowing those risks were out there, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] Okay. And then you introduced the gun –and I understand you're saying you didn't bring the gun into the fight, but you're having a fight or you had just [had] a fight with this woman, right? "[Collier:] I didn't introduce it. 14 CR-17-0799 "[State:] She didn't bring it in, did she? "[Collier:] I was leaving. "[State:] Right. But you're leaving. But you knew you'd been having a fight with this woman, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] And she'd already come at you once, maybe twice, right? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] Okay. So you know she is making this fight physical or has made it physical in the past? "[Collier:] Yes. "[State:] And into that equation, you pick up this loaded, unsafetied, one-in-the-chamber, ready-tofire, finger-on-the-trigger gun, right? "[Collier:] Yes." (R. 253-56.) Subsequently, on re-direct examination, the following occurred: "[Defense counsel:] ... I want to just follow up on a couple of things. [The prosecutor] asked you some questions about the gun was cocked and it was loaded and there was one in the chamber and the safety and so forth, right? "[Collier:] Yes, sir. "[Defense counsel:] Made a point that you had taken the steps to remove these safety features that are designed for guns, right? 15 CR-17-0799 "[Collier:] Yes, sir. "[Defense counsel:] Have you ever taken a safety course in the handling of guns? "[Collier:] No, sir. "[Defense counsel:] training -- Have you ever received any "[Collier:] No, sir. "[Defense counsel:] —- with regards to firearms? "[Collier:] No, sir. "[Defense counsel:] Do you see anything wrong with –- why are you walking around with your finger on the trigger? "[Collier:] Because I had –- because I always walk around –- I always walk around with it like that. "[Defense counsel:] You don't see a problem with that? "[Collier:] No, I didn't think it would go off." (R. 268-69.) In making his argument that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction for criminally negligent homicide, Collier relies on several cases, including Jones. In Jones, this Court noted: "We held in Robinson v. State, 441 So. 2d 1045 (Ala. Crim. App. 1983), that a person who intentionally draws a gun in response to or in anticipation of a confrontation with another is 16 CR-17-0799 aware of the risk that the gun might discharge and, therefore, could not be guilty of mere criminal negligence. See also Williams v. State, 506 So. 2d 368 (Ala. Crim. App. 1986) .... We held in Wakefield v. State, 447 So. 2d 1325 (Ala. Crim. App. 1983), that a jury instruction on criminally negligent homicide was not warranted where the defendant contended that the decedent had threatened him with a pistol and that he was attempting to take the gun away from the decedent when it accidentally discharged. We stated that if the defendant was attempting to shoot the deceased, it could not be negligent homicide, and if he was not attempting to shoot the deceased and the pistol discharged accidentally, it would simply be an accident." 514 So. 2d at 1065. This Court in Jones ultimately determined that evidence sufficient to support a jury charge on criminally negligent homicide was shown by the following statements made at trial: "'The gun he had, he had it between his legs. It fell on the sidewalk and went off by itself'; '[S]he had backed into him, and the gun discharged accidentally'; and '[H]e had a pistol in his belt and ... was trying to get it out of the way.'" 514 So. 2d at 1066. This Court held that those statements were "consistent with the type of inadvertent risk creation contemplated in criminally negligent homicide" and that the statements "constitute[d] some evidence that [the] appellant failed to perceive the substantial and unjustifiable risk he had created." Id. 17 CR-17-0799 Collier also points to Reeves v. State, 580 So. 2d 49 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990), in which Reeves testified that he had been in an argument with the victim, that he had removed the clip from the gun and then tried to leave the house, and that the gun had accidentally fired when he attempted to go around the victim to leave. Reeves had also testified that he was unfamiliar with pistols. An inmate housed in the jail with Reeves, however, testified that Reeves had told him that Reeves had taken the clip out of the gun, and without knowing there was a bullet in the chamber, he pulled the trigger and shot the victim. Based on that testimony, this Court in Reeves determined that there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could conclude by fair inference that Reeves was guilty of criminally negligent homicide. 580 So. 2d at 53. Lastly, Collier cites Edwards v. State, 570 So. 2d 829, 830 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990), in support of his position that, because evidence in his case tended to show that the shooting was accidental, he could not be found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. Collier quotes the following from Edwards: "[A] homicide is excused when caused by the discharge of a gun or pistol which the slayer did not intentionally point at the deceased, and while he was not engaged in any unlawful act, and without 18 CR-17-0799 any carelessness or negligence on his part, for example, where the slayer is hunting, or where the accused is lawfully attempting to take a gun from the victim and it is accidentally discharged, or where the accused is lawfully acting in self-defense and the victim meets death by accident, through the unintentional discharge of a gun, or the like." 570 So. 2d at 831 (citing 40 Am. Jur. 2d Homicide § 112 (1968))(emphasis added). Although Collier first testified that he was aware of the risks associated with carrying a gun that was already loaded and cocked, and that had the safety feature turned off, he later testified that he did not see a problem with carrying the gun in that condition and that he did not think the gun would discharge. Therefore, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence presented for a jury to determine that Collier failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk and that his failure to perceive such a risk constituted a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. See § 13A-2-2(4), Ala. Code 1975. Contrary to Collier's assertions on appeal, this Court's determination in the present case is consistent with this Court's holdings in Jones and Reeves, in which this Court 19 CR-17-0799 held that there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that Jones and Reeves were guilty of criminally negligent homicide. In Jones, this Court held that there was some evidence indicating that Jones failed to perceive the substantial and unjustifiable risk he had created. Likewise, in Reeves, this Court determined that Reeves was unaware of the risk the gun would discharge. As in Jones and Reeves, there was at least some evidence presented in this case that Collier failed to perceive the substantial and unjustifiable risk he had created. Additionally, Collier's reliance on Edwards to support his claim that he could not be found guilty of criminally negligent homicide because the evidence in his case tended to show that the shooting was accidental is also misplaced. In Edwards, this Court noted that there are situations in which a homicide however, may this be Court excusable also on noted the that ground "a of accident; homicide is not excusable on the ground of accident or misadventure unless it appears that the act of the slayer was lawful and free from negligence." 570 So. 2d at 831 (emphasis added). Here, the 20 CR-17-0799 evidence clearly indicates that Collier's acts were not "free from negligence." Further, although couched in terms of the sufficiency of the evidence, Collier's claim could also be construed as a challenge to the weight of the evidence. See McElyea v. State, 892 So. 2d 993, 996 (Ala. Crim. App. 2004)("Because this argument concerns an apparent conflict in the evidence, it relates to the weight of the evidence, rather than to the sufficiency of the evidence."). Collier himself admits in his brief that, "[w]hile evidence supports the contention that Collier carried his gun in an unsafe manner and failed to perceive the risk of doing so, the evidence also suggests that the victim's death was accidental because the firearm discharged when the parties fell." (Collier's brief, at 10.) Because there was evidence presented to support both findings, a jury question was presented. "Conflicting evidence presents a jury issue." Curry v. State, 601 So. 2d 157, 159 (Ala. Crim. App. 1992), citing Smith v. State, 583 So. 2d 990 (Ala. Crim. App.), cert. denied, 583 So. 2d 993 (Ala. 1991); see also Murphy v. State, 108 So. 3d 531, 543 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012)("'[C]onflicting evidence presents a jury question which 21 CR-17-0799 is not subject to review on appeal.'" (quoting Barnes v. State, 571 So. 2d 372, 374 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990))). "[T]his Court will not upset the jury's verdict except in extreme situations in which it is clear from the record that the evidence against the accused was so lacking as to make the verdict wrong and unjust. Deutcsh v. State, 610 So. 2d 1212, 1234-35 (Ala. Crim. App. 1992). This Court will not substitute itself for the jury in determining the weight and probative force of the evidence. Benton v. State, 536 So. 2d 162, 165 (Ala. Crim. App. 1988)." May v. State, 710 So. 2d 1362, 1372 (Ala. Crim. App. 1997). Accordingly, Collier is not entitled to relief on this claim. II. Next, because, Collier he argues argues, the that circuit his sentence court did was not illegal have the authority to split his 12-month sentence for a conviction of a Class A misdemeanor1 under the Split-Sentence Act, found in § 15-18-8, Ala. Code 1975. Specifically, Collier claims that the plain meaning of the language of § 15-18-8, Ala. Code 1975, authorizes the court to split only the sentences for 1 See § 13A-6-4(c), Ala. Code 1975 (providing that criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor, "except in cases in which the criminally negligent homicide is caused by the driver or operator of a vehicle or vessel who is driving or operating the vehicle or vessel in violation of Section 32-5A-191 or 32-5A-191.3."). 22 CR-17-0799 felony convictions. Thus, Collier alleges, because the statute specifically references the four classes of felonies and fails to reference misdemeanor offenses, the Split-Sentence Act cannot be applied to misdemeanor offenses. It is well settled that, "[i]n any case involving statutory construction, our inquiry begins with the language of the statute, and if the meaning of the statutory language is plain, our analysis ends there. Ex parte Moore, 880 So. 2d 1131, 1140 (Ala. 2003)('"'The cardinal rule of statutory interpretation is to determine and give effect to the intent of the legislature as manifested in the language of the statute.'"')(quoting Ex parte Weaver, 871 So. 2d 820, 823 (Ala. 2003), quoting in turn Ex parte State Dep't of Revenue, 683 So. 2d 980, 983 (Ala. 1996)). This Court in DeKalb County LP Gas Co. v. Suburban Gas, Inc., 729 So.2d 270, 275–76 (Ala.1998), explained: "'In determining the meaning of a statute, this Court looks to the plain meaning of the words as written by the legislature. As we have said: "'"'Words used in a statute must be given their natural, plain, ordinary, and commonly understood meaning, and where plain language is used a court is bound to interpret that language to mean exactly what it says. If the language of the statute is unambiguous, then there is no room for judicial construction and the clearly expressed intent 23 CR-17-0799 of the legislature must be given effect.'"' "729 So. 2d at 275–76 (quoting Blue Cross & Blue Shield v. Nielsen, 714 So. 2d 293, 296 (Ala. 1998), additional citations omitted). See also 729 So. 2d at 276 (explaining that the separation-of-powers doctrine requires a court to use the plain-meaning rule in construing a statute and that 'only if there is no rational way to interpret the words as stated will [a court] look beyond those words to determine legislative intent')." Ex parte McCormick, 932 So. 2d 124, 132 (Ala. 2005). The Alabama Supreme Court has also stated: "'"'The fundamental rule of statutory construction is that this Court is to ascertain and effectuate the legislative intent as expressed in the statute. League of Women Voters v. Renfro, 292 Ala. 128, 290 So. 2d 167 (1974). In this ascertainment, we must look to the entire Act instead of isolated phrases or clauses; Opinion of the Justices, 264 Ala. 176, 85 So. 2d 391 (1956).' "'"Darks Dairy, Inc. v. Alabama Dairy Comm'n, 367 So. 2d 1378, 1380 (Ala. 1979)(emphasis added). To discern the legislative intent, the Court must first look 24 CR-17-0799 to the language of the statute. If, giving the statutory language its plain and ordinary meaning, we conclude that the language is unambiguous, there is no room for judicial construction. Ex parte Waddail, 827 So. 2d 789, 794 (Ala. 2001). If a literal construction would produce an absurd and unjust result that is clearly inconsistent with the purpose and policy of the statute, such a construction is to be avoided. Ex parte Meeks, 682 So.2d 423 (Ala. 1996)." "'City of Bessemer v. McClain, 957 So.2d 1061, 1074–75 (Ala. 2006).' "Bright v. Calhoun, 988 So. 2d 492, 497–98 (Ala. 2008). Furthermore, this Court has stated that its 'role is not to displace the legislature by amending statutes to make them express what we think the legislature should have done. Nor is it this Court's role to assume the legislative prerogative to correct defective legislation or amend statutes.' Siegelman v. Chase Manhattan Bank (USA), Nat'l Ass'n, 575 So. 2d 1041, 1051 (Ala. 1991)." Ex parte Webb, 53 So. 3d 121, 128 (Ala. 2009). "'In determining whether judicial construction is required, "[t]he language of the entire statute under review must be read together and the determination of any ambiguity must be made on the basis of the entire statute." Sheffield v. State, 708 So. 2d 899, 907 (Ala. Crim. App. 1997). "Because the meaning of statutory language depends on context, a statute is to be read as a whole." Ex parte Jackson, 614 So. 2d 405, 406 (Ala. 1993). We must also bear in mind that "'[t]here is a presumption that every word, sentence, or provision 25 CR-17-0799 was intended for some useful purpose, has some force and effect, and that some effect is to be given to each, and also that no superfluous words or provisions were used.'" Sheffield v. State, 708 So. 2d 899, 909 (Ala. Crim. App. 1997)(quoting 82 C.J.S. Statutes § 316 at pp. 551–52 (1953)).'" Simons v. State, 217 So. 3d 16, 25 (Ala. Crim. App. 2016)(quoting State v. Adams, 91 So. 3d 724, 735–36 (Ala. Crim. App. 2010)). Alabama's Split Sentence Act, codified at § 15-18-8, Ala. Code 1975, authorizes a trial court to split a defendant's sentence under certain circumstances. Because of the nature of the issue presented here, it is necessary to review the relevant legislative history of the Split Sentence Act. In Ex parte McCormick, the Alabama Supreme Court explained the legislative history of the statute in part, stating: "'Section 15–18–8, Ala. Code 1975, commonly referred to as the Split Sentence Act ("the Act"), was enacted in 1976. The original version of the Act allowed a trial court to split a sentence if the sentence did not exceed 10 years. The length of sentence eligible for split-sentence consideration was increased to 15 years in 1985 and to 20 years in 2000. See Act No. 85–905, Ala. Acts 1985, and Act No. 2000–759, Ala. Acts 2000. When the sentence eligible for split-sentence consideration was increased in 1985, the Legislature also amended § 15–22–50, Ala. Code 1975 -- which grants a court the 26 CR-17-0799 authority to order probation for any sentence that does not exceed 15 years. However, the Legislature did not amend § 15–22–50, Ala. Code 1975, in 2000 when it increased the eligible sentence under the Act to 20 years and that statute still provides that a court may order probation only for a sentence that does not exceed 15 years.'" 932 So. 2d at 130 (quoting State v. Gaines, 932 So. 2d 118 (Ala. Crim. App. 2004)). In 2005, the legislature amended the Split Sentence Act to prohibit a trial court from splitting a defendant's sentence or granting probation in cases where the defendant was convicted of a "criminal sex offense involving a child as defined in Section 15-20-21(5), which constitutes a Class A or Class B felony." See Act No. 2005-301, Ala. Acts 2005 (1st Special Session), p. 571, § 1. In 2015, the legislature amended the Split Sentence Act twice. First, in an amendment effective on September 1, 2015, the legislature merely deleted the word "criminal" preceding "sex offense" in subsections (a) and (f),2 and substituted "15-20A-4(26)" for "15-20-21(5)" in subsections (a) and (f). See Act No. 2015-463, Ala. Acts 2015, § 1. In a separate amendment, which became effective on January 30, 2016, the 2 Prior to the amendment, subsection (f) was subsection (b). After the most recent amendment, subsection (b) was renumbered as subsection (f). 27 CR-17-0799 legislature made the changes to the statute that give rise to this appeal. In the second 2015 amendment, the legislature amended the Split Sentence Act to read, in pertinent part, as follows: "(a) When a defendant is convicted of an offense, other than a sex offense involving a child as defined in Section 15-20A-4(26), that constitutes a Class A or Class B felony offense, and receives a sentence of 20 years or less in any court having jurisdiction to try offenses against the State of Alabama and the judge presiding over the case is satisfied that the ends of justice and the best interests of the public as well as the defendant will be served thereby, he or she may order: "(1) That a defendant convicted of a Class A or Class B felony be confined in a prison, jail-type institution, or treatment institution for a period not exceeding three years in cases where the imposed sentence is not more than 15 years, and that the execution of the remainder of the sentence be suspended notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary and that the defendant be placed on probation for such period and upon such terms as the court deems best. "(2) That a defendant convicted of a Class A, Class B, or Class C felony with an imposed sentence of greater than 15 years but not more than 20 years be confined in a prison, jail-type institution, or treatment institution for a period of three to five years for Class A or Class B felony convictions and for a period of three years for Class C felony convictions, during which the offender shall not be eligible 28 CR-17-0799 for parole or release because of deduction from sentence for good behavior under the Alabama Correctional Incentive Time Act, and that the remainder of the sentence be suspended notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary and that the defendant be placed on probation for the period upon the terms as the court deems best. "This subsection shall not be construed to impose the responsibility for offenders sentenced to a Department of Corrections facility upon a local confinement facility not operated by the Department of Corrections. "(b) Unless a defendant is sentenced to probation, drug court, or a pretrial diversion program, when a defendant is convicted of an offense that constitutes a Class C or D felony offense and receives a sentence of not more than 15 years, the judge presiding over the case shall order that the convicted defendant be confined in a prison, jail-type institution, treatment institution, or community corrections program for a Class C felony offense or in a consenting community corrections program for a Class D felony offense, except as provided in subsection (e), for a period not exceeding two years in cases where the imposed sentence is not more than 15 years, and that the execution of the remainder of the sentence be suspended notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary and that the defendant be placed on probation for a period not exceeding three years and upon such terms as the court deems best. In all cases when it is shown that a defendant has been previously convicted of any three or more felonies or has been previously convicted of any two or more felonies that are Class A or Class B felonies, and after such convictions has committed a Class D felony, upon conviction, he or she must be punished for a Class C felony. This subsection shall not be 29 CR-17-0799 construed to impose the responsibility for offenders sentenced to a Department of Corrections facility upon a local confinement facility not operated by the Department of Corrections." § 15-18-8 (emphasis added). When the entire statute is read as a whole, the language of the statute as amended is unambiguous. Applying the well settled principles of statutory construction, we must agree with Collier that the plain language of the statute, as amended, now authorizes trial courts to split sentences only in cases involving Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D felonies. We note that, in previous versions of the statute, the language of the statute did not speak specifically to either felony or misdemeanor offenses and, instead, spoke only to convictions "in any court having jurisdiction to try offenses in the State of Alabama," and the statute dictated the parameters of the split sentence where the imposed sentence was not more than a specified number of years, depending on the applicable version of the statute, which effectively included sentences of misdemeanors where the sentences were capped at 12 months. However, after the most recent amendment to the Split Sentence Act, the statute now 30 CR-17-0799 expressly limits the trial court's authority to split a sentence to felony cases only. Although it is unclear whether the legislature intended to prohibit the trial court from splitting sentences for misdemeanor offenses or whether that result was merely an accidental effect of the most recent amendment to the statute, this Court has a duty to "ascertain and effectuate the legislative intent as expressed in the statute"; it is not our role to "displace the legislature by amending statutes to make them express what we think the legislature should have done" or "to assume the legislative prerogative to correct defective legislation or amend statutes." See Ex parte Webb, 53 So. 3d 121 at 128. Because we determine that the plain language of § 15-18-8, as amended, is unambiguous, "there is no room for judicial construction." Ex parte Waddail, 827 So. 2d 789, 794 (Ala. 2001). Consequently, the Split Sentence Act no longer grants the trial court the authority to split a sentence for a misdemeanor offense, and Collier's split sentence, thus, is illegal. The proper remedy for cases in which the trial court had no authority to apply the Split Sentence Act has been to remand the case to the trial court for that court to remove 31 CR-17-0799 the split portion of the sentence. See, e.g., Simmons v. State, 879 So. 2d 1218 (Ala. Crim. App. 2003)(holding that the circuit court had no authority to split a sentence and remanding the case to the circuit court for that court to set aside the split portion of the sentence); Morris v. State, 876 So. 2d 1176 (Ala. Crim. App. 2003)(same). Here, the 12–month sentence was valid; however, the circuit court must set aside the split portion of Collier's sentence.3 See Wood v. State, 602 So. 2d 1195 (Ala. Crim. App. 1992). In light of our holding on this issue, we pretermit discussion of Collier's remaining issue, which is that the circuit court "erred when it augmented [his split sentence] after [he] had already begun serving his sentence." (Collier's brief, at 18.) Based on the foregoing, Collier's conviction for criminally negligent homicide is affirmed. However, Collier's sentence is reversed and this case is remanded to the circuit court for proper sentencing. Due return shall be filed with 3 Although a trial court cannot split a sentence for a misdemeanor offense under the Split Sentence Act, we note that § 15-22-50, Ala. Code 1975, currently provides, under certain circumstances, circuit courts and district courts with the discretion to suspend the execution of an entire sentence and place a defendant on probation. 32 CR-17-0799 this Court no later than 42 days from the date of this opinion. AFFIRMED AS TO CONVICTION; REVERSED AS TO SENTENCE; AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS. Windom, P.J., and Kellum, Cole, and Minor, JJ., concur. 33