3DCA: Affirms Grant of Motion to Suppress and Denial of Video from The First 48

A day after the defendant was discovered near the scene of a murder covered in blood then transported to a hospital (a LEO stayed with him the entire time), a detective arrived at the hospital as the Defendant was being discharged. The detective, who was accompanied by three other officers, advised the Defendant that “he needed him” to accompany the detective to the police station. The Defendant was transported to the police station in hospital scrubs and in the back of a police vehicle. A video recorded by a crew from The First 48 shows the Defendant walking into the police station accompanied by a much larger, uniformed officer who is holding “flexi-cuffs” in his right hand.

A video of the interview that ensued is only 5 minutes long, although it was undisputed the interview lasted two hours. It was undisputed during that time the defendant repeatedly fell asleep and gave answers evincing that he did not understand the questions.  The defendant was not given his Miranda rights until after discussing whether he knew the victim.

The trial court granted the motion to suppress the statements and the Third District affirmed, ruling the Defendant was in custody when he was transported to the hospital and while he was at the hospital he was not free to leave.  Further, the defendant’s statements were not voluntary because he was in no condition to make statements to that.

The Third District also affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the heavily redacted video from The First 48 could not be played for the jury: “the video tape was so heavily redacted that the available portions were deprived of relevance.”

State v. Cummings, 3D12-651 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 4, 2015)

http://www.3dca.flcourts.org/opinions/3D12-0651.pdf

Miami-Dade Judge COLODNY

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3DCA: VOP for Applying for DL After Agreeing to Lifetime Revocation

As part of his probation, the defendant agreed to a lifetime revocation of his drivers license and was ordered never to apply for a DL again….which he nonetheless applies for.  The primary issue at the probation violation hearing was whether the defendant, who speaks Spanish and possesses a limited understanding of the English language, was properly advised that, as a special condition of his probation, he had a lifetime driver’s license revocation and that he was never to apply for a driver’s license.  The Third District affirmed and held:
  • REJECTION OF PLEA DEAL:  The trial court did not err by rejecting a plea offer regarding the VOP where the transcripts reflect that the trial court properly considered the defendant’s prior convictions, the charges, the facts leading to those charges, the fact that the lifetime DL revocation was an important part of the defendant’s original plea deal, and the short period of time between the plea and the violation.
  • SUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE:  The evidence was sufficient to support the violation because the transcripts of the original plea colloquy revealed that the defendant was aided by an interpretter and acknowledged that he understood the special condition.
  • LEGALITY OF SENTENCE:  The trial court did not impose an illegal 15 year sentence because the sentence is not a true “split sentence” but rather a “probationary split sentence”.
Gonzalez v. State, 3D13-1872 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 21, 2015)
Miami-Dade Judge Brennan

3DCA: Leaving Scene of Accident Causing Death

Affirming conviction for leaving the scene of an accident causing death and tampering with evidence, the Third District held:

 
  • STATEMENTS OF DEFENDANT:  While the defendant was seized within the meanign of the 4th Amendment when he was handcuffed, placed in back of officer’s car, taken to police station, and placed in locked interrogation room, the seizure was nonetheless supported by probable cause.
  • PROBABLE CAUSE:  Where an LEO determined that a pickup truck parked in front of auto body shop was the vehicle that had been involved in an accident, and the LEO learned from owner of shop that the defendant owned the truck and that defendant had been in possession of truck when it was damaged, there was probable cause to arrest the defendant.
  • MIRANDA:  The trial court did not err by denying a motion to suppress statements made by defendant during an interrogation at the police station after he waived his Miranda rights.
  • OPINION TESTIMONY:  The trial court did not fundamentally err by permitting a detective to testify whether the defendant knew, or should have known, that the defendant struck a person with his vehicle where the detective testified as an accident reconstruction expert. 
 
Abraham v. State, 3D13-755 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 21, 2015)
 
Miami-Dade Judge Rebull