final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Paul L. Backman, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Emily Ross-Booker, Assistant
Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Cynthia L.
Comras, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for
LISA, ASSOCIATE JUDGE.
defendant appeals his conviction and sentence for robbery. He
raises four grounds to reverse his conviction and remand for
a new trial: (1) the trial court committed reversible error
in admitting the lead detective's testimony that he spoke
to the victim's homeless shelter case manager who
verified that the victim was employed and regularly drug
tested; (2) the trial court committed fundamental error in
giving the standard jury instruction 3.10, which implied the
possibility of a light sentence; (3) the trial court
committed reversible error in sentencing the defendant within
the lawful sentencing range but failing to articulate its
reasons for imposing the sentence; and (4) the Prison Release
Reoffender statutory scheme is unconstitutional. Finding
merit on the first issue, we address the first issue only and
do not address the remaining issues.
that the trial court erred in admitting the victim's case
manager's statements through the lead detective's
testimony because the statements were inadmissible hearsay
not subject to any hearsay exception. On appeal, the State
conceded that it was error to admit the inadmissible hearsay
but contended that the error was harmless. We find to the
contrary. Because the State's case was entirely dependent
upon the victim's credibility, and these hearsay
statements corroborated and bolstered the victim's
testimony, the State cannot establish that the error was
harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, we reverse the
conviction and remand for a new trial.
and Procedural History
State charged Dunbar and his co-defendant with one count of
trial, the victim testified that he had been living at the
Salvation Army homeless shelter for four to five months and
that he had two jobs to pay his rent. On the night in
question, the victim's friend drove the victim from work
to the homeless shelter at approximately 11:00 p.m. and
dropped him off behind the building. The victim entered the
homeless shelter to get gas money to pay his friend for the
ride. After the victim paid his friend, the victim counted
his remaining funds. At that point, two men approached the
victim. One of the men, the co-defendant, told the victim
that he was "holding, " which the victim understood
to mean that the co-defendant had drugs for sale.
to the victim, he was not interested in purchasing drugs and
responded: "Okay." However, the defendants kept
repeating, "I got that" and "I'm
holding." Next, a verbal altercation between the victim
and the defendants ensued. The defendants told the victim to
"give [them his] loot." After the victim refused,
the co-defendant hit the victim's face. The victim
defended himself against the co-defendant's attack and a
physical confrontation erupted with the defendant ultimately
joining in the fight. Ultimately, the defendant and the
co-defendant found and took the victim's fifty-dollar
bill, a one-dollar bill, loose change, a money order and four
bus passes, but they did not take his cell phone. After the
defendants took the victim's money, they stood nearby
while the victim called 911. The victim informed the
defendants that he was calling the police. The defendants
began to walk away.
the police arrived, the defendant and the co-defendant ran.
The victim, still on the phone with 911, yelled
"that's him" as the officer approached. The
officer saw two men running in different directions. The
officer spoke to the victim who was very animated and upset.
The police officers on scene did not believe that the victim
was intoxicated or high on crack cocaine.
the officers were able to capture the defendant and the
co-defendant. The officers recovered the fifty-dollar bill,
the one-dollar bill and the bus passes from the co-defendant,
and returned these items to the victim. After interviewing
the defendant and the co-defendant, the lead detective
believed that both men were high on crack cocaine. In
addition to their intoxicated appearance, both men admitted
smoking crack cocaine that evening. As the interview
proceeded, the defendant changed his version of the events.
However, the defendant maintained his claim that he and the
co-defendant had been smoking crack cocaine with the victim.
The defendant claimed that the group had been on their way to
the homeless shelter so that the victim could get more money
to buy more crack cocaine. The defendant's statement to
the officers was played during the trial.
victim denied asking the defendants for drugs. The victim
explained that, as a homeless shelter resident, he was not
permitted to use drugs or alcohol. To ensure compliance with
the policy, the homeless shelter drug tested residents about
once a week. The victim stated he was drug tested more often
than other residents due to his late night work schedule and