Some people mistakenly believe that circumstantial evidence is insufficient to convict a defendant of a crime. Direct evidence a defendant committed a crime is not required to support a conviction, however. In certain cases, what seems like trivial evidence can support a conviction for serious crimes. For example, in a recent case, the First District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida held that eyewitness testimony alone was sufficient to convict a defendant of multiple felony charges. If you are a resident of Clearwater and are charged with a crime, you should consult an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.
Facts of the Case
Allegedly, the victim and his cousin were sitting in a car outside of a nightclub when two men with guns opened the car doors and robbed the victim and his cousin and then shot and killed the victim. The cousin left with another relative and called 911. Later that evening, the defendant asked two women if he could use their phone. The defendant was sweaty and covered in grass, and reportedly told the women he was involved in an altercation in the nightclub and subsequently “unloaded a whole clip” into someone. The defendant proceeded to make phone calls with the phone borrowed from the women. A short time later, one of the women got a phone call from one of the victim’s friends and the defendant ran away. The women called 911 and the defendant was arrested based on their description. The women identified the defendant as the man who used her phone. Additionally, the victim’s cousin identified the defendant in a photographic lineup as the man who opened the rear car door.
Evidence Produced at Trial
Reportedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery with a firearm, armed robbery with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. At the trial, the woman who lent the defendant her phone identified shoes in a photograph as shoes the defendant was wearing on the night of the incident. Police and forensic witnesses also testified regarding the crime and evidence obtained at the scene. At the close of the state’s case, the defendant’s attorney made a motion for an acquittal, arguing the state only had two eyewitnesses and no fingerprint or DNA evidence to support a conviction. The court denied the defendant’s motion and the defendant was convicted of all charges, after which he appealed.
Court of Appeals Affirms Conviction
On appeal, the court affirmed, finding that there were no grounds for reversal of the conviction. The court clarified that its duty on reviewing a trial court’s ruling on a motion for acquittal is whether the state produced sufficient evidence of each element of the crime. Here, the court noted that the state introduced testimony from multiple eyewitnesses that identified the defendant as the shooter. The court stated that the defendant’s arguments regarding the weight of the evidence did not change the fact that the state produced sufficient evidence of each element of the charged offense. As such, the court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion for acquittal.
Additionally, regarding the defendant’s argument, the identification of the defendant in a photographic lineup was inadmissible, the court held that the police did not engage in any suggestive procedure which made a misidentification likely, and therefore the identification was admissible. Similarly, the court found that the witness who identified the defendant’s shoes had personal knowledge regarding the shoes and therefore, her testimony regarding the shoes was proper.
Schedule a Consultation with a Skilled Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are a Clearwater resident facing criminal charges, it is important to your defense to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney who will fight vigorously on your behalf. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a knowledgeable Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will analyze the charges you face and help you to formulate a strong defense. Contact our offices at 727-897-5413 or via the online form to set up a consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Murder Conviction Upheld by Florida Appeals Court September 25, 2018, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog
Death Penalty Affirmed by Florida Supreme Court in Murder Case September 5, 2018, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog
Florida Burglary Becomes Felony Murder Case June 5, 2018, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog