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Bynum v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

May 11, 2018

ANTOINE L. BYNUM, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Orange County, Marc L. Lubet, Judge.

          James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Kathryn Rollison Radtke, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Carmen F. Corrente, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         Appellant, Antoine L. Bynum, appeals his judgment and sentence following a jury trial where he was convicted of murdering Remmi Goyens. Appellant argues that the trial court committed fundamental error when it failed to "make an independent determination of the Appellant's competency." We agree and reverse for a nunc pro tunc competency hearing. We otherwise affirm.

         The Proceedings in this Case

         On April 26, 2015, the day before trial was initially scheduled, Appellant's counsel filed a notice of incompetency. As a result, the trial court held a competency hearing, and after considering the reports of two court-appointed experts, found Appellant incompetent to proceed and committed him to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for treatment at the state hospital under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.212(c).[1]

         On August 31, 2015, mental health professionals at the North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center filed a report representing that Appellant's competency had been restored.[2] At defense counsel's request, the trial court once again appointed an expert to evaluate Appellant under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.210(b)(4).

         The trial court then held a competency hearing on October 22, 2015. However, no evidence was received at the hearing. Rather, Appellant's counsel conveyed to both the State and the trial court that the expert had found Appellant competent to proceed. Even though it had not yet reviewed the expert's report, the court found Appellant competent to proceed "based on the accord of [the expert], and based on . . . the stipulations of the State and Defense."

         The case then proceeded to trial on August 8, 2016, where Appellant admitted that he killed the victim but raised an insanity defense. The jury convicted Appellant of the lesser-included offense of second-degree murder.

         Florida Law: Competency to Proceed

         "[A] criminal prosecution may not move forward at any material stage of a criminal proceeding against a defendant who is incompetent to proceed." McCray v. State, 71 So.3d 848, 862 (Fla. 2011) (quoting Caraballo v. State, 39 So.3d 1234, 1252 (Fla. 2010) (citing Medina v. California, 505 U.S. 437, 439 (1992))); see also Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.210(a). A "material stage" includes the trial, pretrial hearings on factual issues where the defendant might testify, entry of a plea, contempt hearings, violation of probation hearings, sentencing, and "other matters where the mental competence of the defendant is necessary for a just resolution of the issues being considered." Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.210(a)(1).

         "Once found incompetent, a presumption clings to the criminal defendant that the state of incompetence persists until a court, after proper notice and a hearing, finds otherwise." Molina v. State,946 So.2d 1103, 1105 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) (citing Jackson v. State,880 So.2d 1241, 1242 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004); Sledge v. State,871 So.2d 1020 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004)). "Until the presumption of continued incompetence dissipates, the criminal defendant may not be tried for the crimes for which he or she is charged. Violation of this principle constitutes fundamental error[, ]" Id. at 1105-06 (citing Jackson), which may be raised for the first time on appeal. See also Sheheane v. State,228 So.3d 1178, 1181 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017) ...


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