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Jacobson v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

June 8, 2018

James Alfred Jacobson, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. James Daniel, Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Nada M. Carey, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Samuel B. Steinberg, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          ROWE, J.

         James Alfred Jacobson appeals his conviction for second-degree murder, arguing that the trial court should have granted his motion for judgment of acquittal. Jacobson contends that the State failed to prove that he acted with ill will, hatred, spite, or evil intent and that the shooting of the victim was an accident. We affirm.

         The murder victim, Bryan Edwards, lived across the street from Jacobson and his girlfriend, Rebecca Brantley. Jacobson and Brantley frequently purchased marijuana from Edwards, who grew marijuana plants in his home. But after Jacobson failed to pay for marijuana on several occasions, Edwards refused to sell to him again until he paid the $250 he owed Edwards.

         Jacobson was in dire financial straits. He and Brantley lived with Brantley's grandmother. Both were unemployed and owed the grandmother $1, 200 in unpaid rent. They had also been threatened with eviction.

         On the day of the murder, Jacobson told his friend, Joey Waters, that he was preparing for an armed robbery in a couple of hours. Jacobson told Waters that he was going to do "a lick" (slang for robbery), invited Waters to participate in the robbery, and also asked Waters for a "burner" (slang for an untraceable gun). Waters told Jacobson that he could not provide a gun.

         Later that day, Jacobson and Brantley were at the home of Brantley's brother and girlfriend, where they were using marijuana. When they ran out of drugs, Jacobson told the others he would approach Edwards and try to sell him a sawed-off shotgun in exchange for money or more marijuana. Jacobson left to see Edwards at his home. Shortly after Jacobson arrived, Edwards was shot in the face at close range with the sawed-off shotgun Jacobson had brought with him. But after Edwards was wounded, Jacobson did not call 911 or seek any assistance to aid Edwards. Instead, Jacobson ransacked Edwards's home, taking marijuana, a pistol, a gold chain, and a camera belonging to Edwards.

         Jacobson then returned to the home of Brantley's brother and his girlfriend. Jacobson, Brantley, and the others smoked the marijuana Jacobson had stolen from Edwards. Jacobson confessed to Brantley that he had killed Edwards or at least gravely injured him. Jacobson told Brantley that he intended to sell the shotgun to Edwards, but when Jacobson pulled the shotgun from the bag, the shotgun went off because the hammer was already cocked. Then Jacobson threatened to kill Brantley, saying he "might as well do you, too. At least I know I'll get away with it." Brantley said Jacobson started laughing and said it was a joke.

         The next day Jacobson took Brantley to a pawn shop where Brantley pawned the gold chain and camera Jacobson had stolen from Edwards's home. Later, after Jacobson and Brantley had been charged and were in custody in the medical wing of the jail, Jacobson attempted to intimidate Brantley a second time, mouthing to her that "You're fucking dead."

         Standard of Review

         The appropriate standard of review on a motion for judgment of acquittal is the de novo standard. Dunn v. State, 206 So.3d 802, 804 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016). If the State presents competent evidence to establish every element of the crime, then judgment of acquittal is improper. State v. Odom, 862 So.2d 56, 59 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003). When reviewing a court's ruling on a motion for judgment of acquittal, the evidence ...


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