Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Ellen Griffin, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Don M. Rogers, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
A double homicide resulted in the defendant's conviction on two counts of first degree murder and concurrent life sentences. The defendant now appeals his conviction, raising two issues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his request to have a co-defendant declared unavailable to testify or take judicial notice of the charges against the co-defendant to which he had pled, and the sentence imposed; and (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion
for judgment of acquittal on the murder of the male victim. We affirm.
The murders occurred at a residence, where a witness shared space. On the night before the murders, the witness shared a bottle of brandy, smoked marijuana, and snorted cocaine with a friend. Unable to go to work the following evening, she slept in the back bedroom through most of the day. She awoke to the sound of a gunshot from the living room. When she came out of the bedroom, she saw ten to fifteen men in the kitchen, including the co-defendants. There were trash bags and guns on the table. One co-defendant, who was holding a small automatic handgun, laughed and said it was all a mistake. The witness then got a soda and went back to sleep.
An hour or two later, the witness awoke to the sound of a second gunshot from the living room. This time she saw a man's feet on the floor. Another co-defendant stood over the man holding a revolver. When she asked what was going on, one of the co-defendants told her to go back into the bedroom.
The witness then looked out the front door and saw another co-defendant and the defendant fighting with a woman. They were trying to drag her back into the house. The co-defendant was holding the woman's head down and the defendant had her by the legs with a gun to her stomach. She heard the woman scream and beg for her life. The witness returned to the bedroom.
After hearing the door close, and thinking everyone had left, the witness came out, but one of the co-defendants was still there with the revolver. She went into the closet and threw clothes on top of herself. She heard the door open and close a second time. She looked out the door again and saw the defendant shoot the woman, whom she had seen outside a few minutes before. The witness then heard the men discuss removing the bodies. She saw brake lights back up to the house and the defendant and one of the co-defendants take the bodies outside.
After staying with a friend for the weekend, the witness turned herself in on an outstanding violation of probation warrant. She also gave a recorded statement of what she saw and heard on the day of the murders and looked at four photographic lineups. The witness admitted at trial that she did not see the defendant in the room with the male victim.
A neighbor across the street saw a green Ford Expedition  parked behind a silver car  in the driveway of the home where the murders occurred. The neighbor saw a man pulling a woman from the silver car. She later identified him as the man she had seen in the Ford Expedition. She said the man threw the woman onto the " floor" and slapped her to the left and the right. The neighbor heard the woman call for help and ask for someone to call the police. She described the woman as hysterical, screaming, and scared. The man told the neighbor not to worry because the woman was his wife. The neighbor was going to call the police, but thought about her children and the type of area it was, and decided not to get involved.
The neighbor witnessed the female victim wrap her legs around a pole to keep from being taken inside. The victim kept
repeating " Please.... Don't take me there. I don't want to go." The co-defendant pried the victim's legs off the pole while the defendant held her arms. They ...