KENEIL O. DENTON, Appellant,
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Laura S. Johnson, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Stacey Kime, Assistant Public
Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Georgina
Jimenez-Orosa, Senior Assistant Attorney General, West Palm
Beach, for appellee.
primary issue in this case was identity. After the
victim's house was burglarized, fingerprints and DNA
samples were taken from the crime scene. Eventually,
appellant-then in custody for unrelated offenses-was charged
with the burglary. At trial, the evidence connecting
appellant to the burglary consisted of a fingerprint found at
the crime scene and the victim's identification of
appellant as someone he had seen in the neighborhood on
several occasions. Based on this evidence, appellant was
found guilty of burglary.
appeals his conviction. He raises three issues, but we
address only one: whether the state's untimely production
of an exculpatory or impeaching crime scene DNA report
warrants reversal. Here, the state's production of the
initial letter referencing a DNA test conducted by a
third-party lab, its untimely production of the report
containing the results of that third-party test, and the
state's actions regarding the DNA report lulled appellant
into inaction. Because this rose to the level of a
Brady violation, we reverse the conviction and
remand for a new trial.
two weeks before trial, the state filed a supplemental
witness list identifying a Palm Beach County Sheriff's
Office ("PBSO") forensic scientist as a potential
trial witness. Attached to this notice was a letter from the
forensic scientist explaining that a DNA analysis had been
conducted and a third-party DNA report forwarded to PBSO for
review and entry into its database.
receiving this notice and the attached letter, defense
counsel emailed the prosecutor to ask whether there was any
DNA tested in the case linking appellant to the robbery. The
prosecutor responded that she did not know whether any
testing had been done. Defense counsel did not receive the
DNA report referenced in the letter at this time.
issue of DNA reports arose again at trial. There, the state
reiterated that it had "no report as to any DNA
whatsoever." The state did not introduce any DNA reports
into evidence, nor did it call the PBSO forensic scientist to
testify. Instead, it relied primarily on fingerprint evidence
and the victim's testimony to establish appellant as the
burglar. The jury returned a guilty verdict on the burglary
a Brady violation, defense counsel moved for a new
trial. At the hearing on appellant's motion for new
trial, the PBSO forensic scientist testified regarding the
report referenced in her letter. She explained that the
report did not contain allele matches consistent with
appellant's DNA. Rather, the genetic profile from the
scene returned a "major profile" consistent with
the victim and a second, "minor profile" that did
not contain alleles matching appellant's profile.
that no discovery violation had occurred, the trial court
denied appellant's motion and adjudicated him guilty on
the burglary charge. This appeal follows.
conduct independent appellate review of whether a
Brady violation has occurred. Geralds v.
State, 111 So.3d 778, 787 (Fla. 2010). In doing so, we
defer to the trial court on questions of fact, review de novo
the application of the law to those facts, and independently
review the cumulative effect of any evidence that was
seminal case of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83
(1963), requires the state to disclose material information
within its possession or control that is favorable to the
defense. A Brady violation occurs when the defendant
can show that the state suppressed evidence and "(1) the
evidence was either exculpatory or impeaching; (2) the
evidence was willfully or inadvertently suppressed by the
State; and (3) because ...