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Florida Supreme Court – Criminal Headnotes – April 27, 2017

DONTAE MORRIS V. STATE OF FLORIDA — STRIKING JURY PANEL – DEFENDANT’S STATEMENTS – OPINION TESTIMONY BY POLICE OFFICER – PRIOR CONSISTENT STATEMENTS – UNCHARGED CRIMES – HURST RELIEF

Trial court did not err:

  • in denying motion to strike jury panel where prospective juror, later stricken for cause, made ambiguous reference to prior crimes;
  • in overruling objection to admission of defendant’s spontaneous statement in jail indicating guilt;
  • in admitting testimony of detectives’ testimony identifying defendant from dashcam tape, where this was merely cumulative;
  • in allowing testimony concerning prior consistent statement of witness to rebut inference of improper influence;
  • in denying mistrial for mention of threats against witness, where court sustained defense objection and gave curative instruction.

Death sentence was proportionate, given relative weight of aggravating and mitigating factors. Any Hurst violation was harmless, given unanimous jury recommendation of death penalty.

RANDY W. TUNDIDOR V. STATE OF FLORIDA — PRIOR CONSISTENT STATEMENTS – DEPOSITION OF UNAVAILABLE WITNESS – SURREPTITIOUS RECORDING – EXPERT MEDICAL TESTIMONY – CODEFENDANT’S STATEMENTS TO LAWYER PRIVILEGED – UNTIMELY MOTION TO DISQUALIFY TRIAL JUDGE – INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL – DOUBLE JEOPARDY – HURST RELIEF

Trial court did not err:

  • in allowing testimony concerning prior consistent statement of witness to rebut inference of improper influence;
  • in admitting deposition testimony of unavailable witness, where defendant had introduced related Arthur hearing testimony;
  • in admitting surreptitious recording, as it was made “under direction of” police;
  • in admitting text messages to rebut defense theory that another person had committed the crime;
  • in allowing expert medical testimony concerning defendant’s physical limitations;
  • in excluding testimony of codefendant’s lawyer concerning statements of codefendant made in privileged setting;
  • in denying untimely motion to disqualify trial judge;
  • in denying motion for new trial where there was substantial evidence to support guilty verdict.

No ineffective assistance of counsel where defendant insisted on waiving mitigation. Trial court error in rejecting age mitigator harmless. Conviction on both attempted first degree murder and attempted felony murder charges was double jeopardy, but resentencing not required where record shows conclusively trial court would have imposed same sentence. Death sentence was proportionate, given relative weight of aggravating and mitigating factors. Any Hurst violation was harmless, given unanimous jury recommendation of death penalty.

STATE OF FLORIDA V. DAMANI SPENCER — CERTIFIED QUESTION ON LUCAS EXCEPTION RE SUBMITTING LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE – “JURY PARDON” DOCTRINE

Certified question from 1st District Court of Appeals appeals:

  • Where no evidence could support finding justifiable or excusable attempted homicide, does trial court commit fundamental error by not including these elements in jury instruction, where defendant is convicted of attempted manslaughter or greater offense not more than one step removed?

Answered in affirmative, despite fact defense did not object to these omissions.