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Purifoy v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

May 25, 2017

ROBERT DALE PURIFOY, 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. Paul A. Rasmussen, Judge.

          Michael Ufferman of Michael Ufferman Law firm, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Michael L. Schaub, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         Robert D. Purifoy appeals his judgment and sentence for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and tampering with evidence, stemming from a shooting incident. Purifoy raises three claims on appeal: (1) the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce into evidence Purifoy's clothes because the warrantless taking of Purifoy's clothes from the hospital by law enforcement officers amounted to "a meaningful interference with his constitutionally protected possessory rights" pursuant to Jones v. State, 648 So.2d 669, 675 (Fla. 1994); (2) the trial court erred by preventing the defense from having access to the video surveillance equipment that was relied upon by the State; and (3) the trial court erred by denying Purifoy's motion for judgment of acquittal because the State did not present facts inconsistent with Purifoy's reasonable hypothesis of innocence. We affirm the second and third issues without comment, but the first issue warrants discussion.

         I.

         On a June evening in 2012, Justin Stanley and Purifoy got into a fight at a nightclub, during which Purifoy threatened to kill Stanley. About five months later in the early morning hours of November 6, 2012, Stanley was in bed asleep with Amber Johnson when his security alarm went off. He woke up, grabbed his firearm from his night stand, and saw someone in the house about six feet tall wearing a Halloween mask of some type, sweatshirt, long pants, gloves, and boots. The intruder shot at Stanley in the bed, so Stanley returned fire, claiming that one of his shots hit the intruder because the intruder stumbled as he took off running. Ms. Johnson died from one of the intruder's shots. Stanley called 9-1-1 and was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital to treat a gunshot wound to his chest and arm.

         An officer responded to Sacred Heart Hospital that same morning in reference to a walk-in patient, Purifoy, who had a gunshot wound to his upper abdomen and a "graze" to his thigh. The officer observed doctors and nurses removing Purifoy's clothes in an emergency room bay. A nurse collected the clothing and put it in a bag at the foot of the stretcher, which was typical procedure. The officer stayed with the bag of clothing until the crime scene technician arrived. Once the technician arrived, he pointed to the clothing for the technician to take, which she did. At some point, Purifoy told the nurse that he was running away from a robbery when he was shot, and also told another law enforcement officer who questioned him at the hospital that he had been robbed.

         The jury found Purifoy guilty on all three counts, and he was sentenced to life on the murder and attempted murder counts, and five years' imprisonment on the tampering count. This appeal ensued.

         II.

         We review the trial court's ruling on Purifoy's motion to suppress as a mixed question of law and fact. Connor v. State, 803 So.2d 598, 605-08 (Fla. 2001). The standard for reviewing facts is whether competent, substantial evidence supports the trial court's factual findings; the trial court's application of law is reviewed de novo. Id. Both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 12 of the Florida Constitution, protect the people of this state from "unreasonable searches and seizures" of "their persons, houses, papers and effects." The protection afforded by our state constitution is expressly limited to that afforded under the Fourth Amendment as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. See Bernie v. State, 524 So.2d 988 (Fla. 1988); art. I, § 12, Fla. Const. (Article I, section 12 "right shall be construed in conformity with the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court."). "As a general rule, a warrantless search or seizure is per se unreasonable, unless the search or seizure falls within one of the well established exceptions to the warrant requirement." Jones v. State, 648 So.2d 669, 674 (Fla. 1994).

         Under the open view doctrine, "objects such as weapons or contraband found in a 'public place' can be seized without a warrant." Id. at 676. Our supreme court explained that:

this situation occurs when both the officer and the contraband are in an area where the defendant has no reasonable expectation of privacy. Because privacy rights are not implicated, the seizure of property in open view is presumptively reasonable, assuming there is 'probable ...

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