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White v. State

Florida Court of Appeal, Third District

November 16, 2011

Charles E. WHITE, Appellant,
v.
The STATE of Florida, Appellee.

Rehearing Denied Jan. 4, 2012.

Page 336

Eugene F. Zenobi, Jr. Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Third Region, for appellant.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Timothy R.M. Thomas, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Before RAMIREZ and SHEPHERD, JJ., and SCHWARTZ, Senior Judge.

SCHWARTZ, Senior Judge.

Charles E. White appeals his convictions for two counts of first-degree murder (Count 1 and 2), burglary with an assault or battery while armed (Count 3), robbery while armed with a firearm or deadly weapon (Count 4), two counts of kidnapping with a weapon (Count 5 and 6), use or display of a firearm in the commission of a felony (Count 7), and possession of a short-barreled rifle (Count 8). White says a number of issues mandate reversal. On the following analysis, we affirm.[1],[2]

On February 22, 1999, police were called to the home of Leonard Mayers. In the northeast bedroom of the home, police found the bodies of Mayers and Leon Gray. The home's back door and door jamb were damaged. A pickax was found on the ground near the back stoop, a sawed off shotgun in a neighboring yard, and a black bandana in another backyard.[3] The victims each died of close range gunshot wounds, their wrists and portions of their heads bound with duct tape. Mayers was a drug dealer and narcotics and drug-related paraphernalia were found in the home. On the walls inside one of the

Page 337

bathrooms was written " I want wartime, next time someone will die."

On December 29, 1999, investigating the double homicide, and following a lead from a fellow officer, Detectives Chris Stroze and Steven Paar went to White's home. White gave a detailed, innocent account of his actions some ten months earlier. This story of his activities did not include anything involving his friend Armond Davis (later to be his co-defendant) or going to Leonard Mayers' house. To the contrary, White said that he had never been to Mayers' home and had never worked for him. Stroze asked White if he would be willing to take a polygraph test, but White refused saying that the test proved nothing. Stroze then recounted to White certain information told to him by Davis, to which White gave the incongruous response, " You mean the person I was in the house with was a killer?" Stroze ended the forty-five-minute interview at that point, but did not arrest White.

The next day, after receiving an additional lead pointing to White's involvement in the crimes, Stroze put a notification into police computers asking that he be alerted if any officer came into contact with White. A year later, on December 30, 2000, at 2:00 p.m., White was arrested for possession of marijuana.[4] Rather than take him to the magistrate for a plea or bond disposition as would have been the usual course after a marijuana arrest, the officers took White to Stroze for questioning on the crimes at issue here, for which, it was admitted, there was then no probable cause to arrest. Toward the end of some thirteen hours of questioning on that subject, however, White finally admitted his participation in the crimes for which he was subsequently charged and convicted. An account of the twenty-four hours following the arrest reveals the following:

Saturday, December 30, 2000:

2:00 p.m. White is arrested on the possession charge.
2:05 p.m. Detective Stroze is called and informed of the arrest, Stroze asks that White be transported to the Homicide office immediately.
White is held approximately five hours prior to transport.[5]
6:55 p.m. White arrives at Stroze's office, possibly after other detainees have been dropped off at TGK.[6],[7]

Page 338

7:05 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. White is questioned; he denies any involvement in the crimes.
9:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. White is questioned; he denies any ...

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