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Pileggi v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

November 8, 2017

CATHERINE M. PILEGGI, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         Appeal and cross-appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; John D. Fry, Judge; L.T. Case No. 11-11540CF10A.

          Bruce L. Udolf of Bruce L. Udolf, PA, Fort Lauderdale, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Anesha Worthy, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          DAMOORGIAN, J.

         Catherine Pileggi ("Defendant") appeals her judgment of conviction for second degree murder. Defendant raises two arguments on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in denying her motion for judgment of acquittal; and (2) she was denied due process by not being given the opportunity to perform an independent autopsy. The State cross-appeals, arguing that in the event of reversal, the court improperly denied the State's request to limit the jury instruction on the justifiable use of deadly force. We affirm Defendant's conviction without further comment. Recognizing that our decision on Defendant's appeal renders the State's cross-appeal moot, we nonetheless address the State's contention that the justifiable use of deadly force instruction as given was wrong.

         Defendant was charged with the murder of her longtime boyfriend. At trial, Defendant admitted that she shot and stabbed the Victim, but claimed that she was a battered woman and did so in self-defense. Both sides presented substantial evidence to support their respective positions. Because self-defense was an issue, when it came time to charge the jury, the court read the following instruction which was modeled after Standard Jury Instruction 3.6(f):

An issue in this case is whether the defendant acted in self-defense.
It is a defense to the crime of murder in the second degree and to the lesser included crime of manslaughter if the actions of [Defendant] constituted the justifiable use of deadly force.
Deadly force means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.
The use of deadly force is justifiable if the defendant reasonably believed that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to her while resisting:
1) Another's attempt to murder her; or
2) Any attempt to commit manslaughter or aggravated assault upon her; or
3) Any attempt to commit manslaughter or aggravated assault upon or in any ...

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