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Wesby v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

November 15, 2017

KEITH LAMAR WESBY Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; Michael F. Andrews, Judge.

          Keith Wesby, pro se.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and John M. Klawikofsky, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.

          BADALAMENTI, Judge.

         Keith Lamar Wesby appeals the denial of his motion for postconviction relief. See Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850. The motion alleged thirteen separate grounds for relief, most of which were summarily denied without an evidentiary hearing, with the exception of Grounds 7a and 7b-these were denied after an evidentiary hearing. We affirm the postconviction court's ruling, with the exception of its summary denial of Ground 3. Because Mr. Wesby's allegation that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move for disclosure of a confidential informant (CI) is not conclusively refuted by the record, we reverse the postconviction court's summary denial of Ground 3 and remand for an evidentiary hearing.

         Mr. Wesby allegedly participated in three controlled drug buys with an undercover detective of the St. Petersburg Police Department. The first buy was set up through a CI who contacted Michael Brown-Mr. Wesby's brother-to arrange the purchase. On October 9, 2008, the detective and the CI met with Mr. Brown at a convenience store, and an acquaintance of Mr. Brown's named "Dino" sold the detective some Fioricet pills. The detective was led to believe that these were actually hydrocodone pills, but they were not.

         On October 23, 2008, "Dino" contacted the detective and told him he may have some hydrocodone for sale. "Dino" and the detective met in the front yard of a residence, where "Dino" sold the detective hydrocodone in liquid and pill form. Neither the CI nor Mr. Brown took part in this transaction.

         On March 2, 2009, the detective contacted "Dino" and asked him if he had any more hydrocodone. "Dino" said that he did not, but that he had cocaine instead. The detective then purchased an eight-ball of cocaine from "Dino." Again, neither the CI nor Mr. Brown took part in this transaction.

         During these three transactions, the detective was unable to determine "Dino's" real name. But after the detective researched the tag number of Michael Brown's car, he found records of a previous traffic stop during which Mr. Wesby was present in the car. The detective then obtained a photograph of Mr. Wesby and identified him as "Dino."

         Based on the detective's identification of Mr. Wesby as "Dino, " Mr. Wesby was charged and adjudicated guilty of unlawful sale of a prescription drug, trafficking in hydrocodone, sale of cocaine, and possession of cocaine. Mr. Wesby's defense at trial was misidentification. Mr. Wesby was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for an overall length of twenty-five years, with a twenty-five-year minimum mandatory sentence for the trafficking charge. This court affirmed Mr. Wesby's convictions and sentences on direct appeal. Wesby v. State, 109 So.3d 803 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (table decision).

         Mr. Wesby then filed his pro se motion for postconviction relief. In Ground 3 of his operative motion, Mr. Wesby alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move for disclosure of the CI. Mr. Wesby further alleged in his operative motion (1) that Mr. Wesby informed his counsel that he is not the person who sold drugs to the detective, (2) that disclosure of the CI was necessary to establish the defense of misidentification, (3) that the CI was present for the first controlled buy, (4) that the State's only identification testimony came from the detective, and (5) that had defense counsel moved for disclosure of the CI and then called him or her to testify, the CI would have corroborated Mr. Wesby's claim that he was misidentified as "Dino."

         In its response, the State points to one sentence in Mr. Wesby's motion which provides that the detective's "identification testimony was the only evidence submitted to the jury to prove . . . the [h]ydrocodone trafficking charge." (Emphasis added.) Because the CI was only present for the October 9 transaction and not the October 23 transaction-which is when the detective first received real hydrocodone from "Dino"-the State argues that disclosure of the CI would have been immaterial to the hydrocodone trafficking charge. Moreover, even if the CI had been disclosed and called to testify, the State maintains that the detective's trial testimony would not have changed and that Mr. Wesby would have been convicted anyway. In summarily denying Ground 3, the postconviction court adopted the State's position wholesale. We disagree and reverse. Mr. Wesby was, at minimum, entitled to an evidentiary hearing on Ground 3 of his motion for postconviction relief.

         To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show (1) that counsel's performance was unreasonable under prevailing professional norms and (2) that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. See generally Thompson v. State, 990 So.2d 482, 489-90 (Fla. 2008) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984)). Where no evidentiary hearing is held on an issue in a postconviction motion, "we must accept the defendant's factual allegations to the extent they are not refuted by the record." Foster v. State, 810 So.2d 910, 914 (Fla. 2002) (quoting Peede v. State, 748 So.2d 253, 257 ...


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