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Moulton v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

November 15, 2017

DEBORAH JEAN MOULTON, 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 Collier County; Lauren L. Brodie, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Maureen E. Surber, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Linsey Sims-Bohnenstiehl, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.

          ORDER RELINQUISHING JURISDICTION

          VILLANTI, Judge.

         Deborah Jean Moulton appeals her conviction and sentence for the reduced charge of principal to manslaughter with a firearm, contending that her due process rights were violated because the trial court did not make an independent determination that she had been restored to competency before it accepted her plea to the reduced charge. Because it is not clear that the trial court made an independent finding of competency, we relinquish jurisdiction for sixty days, as we recently did in Cramer v. State, 213 So.3d 1028 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017), for the trial court to conduct a new competency hearing.

         Moulton's competency was a recurring issue after she was arrested and charged with one count of principal to second-degree murder with a firearm in May 2014. She was adjudicated incompetent to proceed on October 9, 2014, but the court found her competency restored on January 7, 2015. Moulton was again adjudicated incompetent to proceed on May 6, 2015. On that date, she was committed to the Department of Children and Families (the Department) for treatment.

         On August 6, 2015, the administrator of the Department's treatment center forwarded a new competency evaluation report to the court. This report, authored by a staff psychologist and dated August 6, 2015, concluded that Moulton was then competent to proceed. The administrator of the treatment center requested that the court arrange for Moulton to be returned to Collier County for further proceedings.

         On August 27, 2015, the trial court held a hearing on Moulton's competence. The hearing began with the following:

THE COURT: Do you waive her presence?
MR. VERDERAMO (defense counsel): Yes, Judge.
THE COURT: Okay.
MR. VERDERAMO: Judge, I've prepared an order. Mr. Stewart (counsel for the State) has (inaudible) and has no objection.
THE COURT: So both of you are agreeing that at this point she has been restored to competency based on the report filed, and ...

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