Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Williams v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

March 27, 2017

GREGORY EDWARD WILLIAMS, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

         An appeal from the Circuit Court for Escambia County. Thomas V. Dannheisser, Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and W. C. McLain, Assistant Public Defender, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Robert "Charlie" Lee, Assistant Attorney General, for Appellee.

          WINSOR, J.

         Gregory Williams appeals his first-degree murder conviction and his resulting life sentence. He raises only one issue on appeal, claiming the State's closing argument deprived him of a fair trial. More specifically, he argues that the State's argument comparing him and his codefendants to "a pack of wolves" crossed the line and resulted in fundamental error. We reject this claim.

         I.

         In March 2013, emergency workers responded to an apartment fire and found an unconscious woman on the floor. The woman had severe burns and also suffered "obvious blunt force trauma to her head." She was pronounced dead at the scene.

         An investigation led police to Williams. Williams admitted his involvement, but he told police that his friend forced him to go to the victim's apartment and help with the killing. Williams explained that once at the apartment, he put the victim in a chokehold, and he and the friend wrestled the victim to the ground. Williams said he, the friend, and a third person then began beating the victim with a hammer, a pipe, and a crowbar. Then, Williams said, the friend lit the victim's bed on fire.

         The jury convicted Williams of first-degree murder but acquitted him of arson. It did so after hearing the following argument during the State's closing, which Williams argues deprived him of a fair trial:

Anthony Pressley, Kiesha Pugh, [and] Gregory Williams[[*] all went to [the victim's] apartment like a pack of wolves. And when [the victim] opened the door and let them inside her home, this defendant, Gregory Williams, pounced on her like prey. He grabbed her in a chokehold when she turned her back, and as she said, why are y'all doing this to me, she was wrestled to the ground, she was beaten repeatedly, and she was murdered viciously. And then her home was set on fire as the three of them scurried off into the night unaware that they were on video surveillance.

         This is the entirety of the comment that Williams claims warrants a new trial. He identifies no other part of the closing argument that he considers improper, and he identifies no other asserted error below.

         II.

         "It is clearly improper for the prosecutor to engage in vituperative or pejorative characterizations of a defendant or witness." Gore v. State, 719 So.2d 1197, 1201 (Fla. 1998). Accordingly, courts have frequently found arguments referring to defendants as animals to be improper. See, e.g., Carrol v. State, 815 So.2d 601, 622 (Fla. 2002) (finding it improper to refer to defendant as a "creature that stalked the night"); Bullard v. State, 436 So.2d 962, 963 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983) (finding it improper to refer to defendant as "this creature, this thing"); Blunt v. State, 397 So.2d 1047, 1048 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981) (finding it improper to refer to defendant and state that "[a]nimals belong in cages"); cf. also Fabregas v. State, 829 So.2d ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.