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Cledenord v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

May 23, 2018

MACKENDY CLEDENORD, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; John S. Kastrenakes, Judge; L.T. Case No. 502013CF011521A.

          Antony P. Ryan, Regional Counsel, and Richard G. Bartmon, Assistant Regional Counsel, Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Fourth District, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Jessenia J. Concepcion, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          TAYLOR, J.

         Mackendy Cledenord appeals his convictions and sentences for lewd or lascivious molestation, sexual battery on a person younger than 12, and lewd or lascivious conduct. Appellant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his cause challenges to two prospective jurors. We disagree and affirm without comment on this issue. Appellant also argues that the trial court abused its discretion in summarily denying his pre-trial motion for reconsideration of the trial court's suppression ruling. We affirm on this issue as well but write to explain that, although the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard in ruling on the motion for reconsideration, we find that the error was harmless.

         The following facts are relevant to this opinion. Soon after appellant's arrest, he gave a videotaped statement to police in which he admitted touching the victim's thighs and chest but denied touching her vagina. Appellant moved to suppress his statement.

         At the suppression hearing, evidence showed that officers were dispatched to the victim's home shortly after 3:00 a.m. on the date of the incident. The scene was chaotic and emotional, with people talking loudly back and forth.

         The officers made contact with the victim's aunt, who did not testify at the suppression hearing. The victim's aunt told the officers that she had thrown a party at her home earlier that evening. After she went to sleep that night, she was awakened to the sound of the victim screaming. When she went to the living room to investigate, she saw a man get up from the area next to the victim, go out to the patio, and take off running. The victim told her aunt and the police that the man had inserted his finger into her vagina.

         Witnesses at the scene described the man as a twenty-something black male who had dreadlocks and was wearing a red shirt. The victim's aunt told the police that the man had been at the party earlier that evening. According to the officers' testimony, the victim's aunt and other witnesses said that the man lived next door.

         The officers gave conflicting testimony about whether the victim's aunt knew the man's name. Sergeant Scott testified that the victim's aunt did not know the man's name. By contrast, Officer Laurent testified that the victim's aunt identified appellant by name as the man she observed on the patio. Officer Laurent repeatedly testified that the victim's aunt referred to the man as "Mackendy."

         The police went next door and knocked on the door. A resident, Mr. Valliere, answered the door and gave the police permission to search for the suspect. Officers entered the home and saw appellant sleeping on the couch. Appellant matched the description of the suspect, as he was black, appeared to be in his mid-twenties, was wearing a red shirt, and had a dreadlock hairstyle. Officers woke appellant up and had him identify himself. Officers handcuffed appellant and took him outside for a show-up identification. The victim's aunt identified appellant as the person she saw inside her house. Appellant was then placed in a patrol car and taken to the police station.

         Relevant to this appeal, defense counsel argued that appellant's statement was the product of an illegal arrest inside his residence without probable cause. Additionally, relying on the testimony of a resident of appellant's home, defense counsel argued that the police did not have consent to enter the home.

         The trial court denied the motion to suppress, finding that appellant's arrest was lawful. Specifically, the trial court found that: (1) there were exigent circumstances justifying the entry into appellant's home; (2) Mr. Valliere, who had both actual and apparent authority over the common areas of appellant's home, freely and voluntarily gave consent for the officers to enter the home; and (3) the officers had probable cause to detain and arrest appellant "based on the critical one fact, which is this, that the person, that the ...


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