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Padron v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

May 10, 2017

Geovanny Padron, Appellant,
v.
The State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County No. 09-20775-C, Jose L. Fernandez, Judge.

          Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Stephen J. Weinbaum, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Jeffrey R. Geldens, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before ROTHENBERG, EMAS, and FERNANDEZ, JJ.

          ROTHENBERG, J.

         Geovanny Padron ("the defendant") appeals from a final judgment of conviction and sentence for first-degree felony murder, attempted second-degree murder, armed burglary, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The defendant specifically contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion for judgment of acquittal, claiming that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence to convict him as a principal for felony murder, attempted murder, and burglary. Because we find that the evidence adduced at trial, when considered in the light most favorable to the State, supports the jury's verdict finding the defendant guilty, we affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Felix Soto ("Soto") and Rafael Aguilera ("Aguilera") went to Giancarlo Castillo's ("Castillo") residence at 11:00 p.m. to confront him because they believed that Castillo was responsible for burglarizing Soto's home. According to witnesses who were at Castillo's residence, Soto and Aguilera knocked on Castillo's front door and asked Castillo to go outside to speak with them. When Castillo told them to leave and threatened to call the police, Soto and Aguilera left. A little while later, there was a second knock at Castillo's door. Castillo opened the door, and when Castillo tried to slam the door closed, the door was kicked in by the defendant. Soto, Aguilera, and the defendant entered and immediately attacked Castillo, Mario Fernandez ("Fernandez"), and Eric Edmundson ("Edmundson"), the male occupants who were present at Castillo's residence. Before they fled from Castillo's residence, Soto bludgeoned Fernandez with a machete, Aguilera beat Castillo to death with a baseball bat, and the defendant beat Edmundson unconscious.

         The defendant's former girlfriend testified that when Soto and Aguilera returned from their first visit to Castillo's residence, they were upset and they convinced the defendant to go back to Castillo's residence with them. The defendant told his former girlfriend that he and his companions were going "to go see three people" and "they were going to fight with these people because they believed that they were the ones that had broken into the house." The former girlfriend told the police during their investigation that the defendant went with Soto and Aguilera "because there were three of them, and it had to be three against three." The former girlfriend further testified that after the defendant returned from Castillo's residence, the defendant told her that they entered Castillo's residence, they fought the occupants, and he knocked his opponent down.

         Soto, Aguilera, and the defendant were all charged as principals with the first-degree felony murder of Castillo, the attempted premeditated first-degree murder of Fernandez, the aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on Edmundson, and armed burglary. The defendant was convicted as charged on all counts except for attempted first-degree murder, where he was instead convicted of the lesser included offense of attempted second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life for the felony murder and burglary counts, to thirty years in prison for the attempted murder count, and to fifteen years in prison for the aggravated battery count, with all sentences running concurrently. The defendant timely appealed.

         ANALYSIS

         "Appellate courts review the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal under the de novo standard, and must consider the evidence and all reasonable inferences from the evidence in a light most favorable to the State." McDuffie v. State, 970 So.2d 312, 332 (Fla. 2007); Giralt v. State, 935 So.2d 599, 601 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006) (stating that in the context of reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion for judgment of acquittal, "the conviction will not be reversed if it is supported by competent substantial evidence").

         The defendant argues that he is only guilty, at best, of trespass and an aggravated battery for striking Edmundson, but that he is not guilty as a principal of the first-degree felony murder of Castillo, the attempted second-degree murder of Fernandez, or armed burglary. The defendant claims that there is no evidence that he intended for those crimes to be committed and that Soto's attack on Fernandez and Aguilera's attack on Castillo were independent acts, for which he cannot be punished. Therefore, this appeal rests on the application of the law as to principals and whether, when ...


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