final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Martin J. Bidwill, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Siobhan Helene Shea,
Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Heidi L.
Bettendorf, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for
Edwards appeals his conviction and sentence for aggravated
battery. At trial, appellant maintained he was acting in
self-defense during a fight with the alleged victim. Critical
to his case was testimony by a detective implying that
appellant's demeanor during a post-arrest interview
indicated deception. We reverse appellant's conviction
and remand for a new trial, because the trial court erred in
allowing the detective to testify that, based on his training
and experience in conducting interviews, certain body
language and mannerisms indicate deception. Because appellant
exhibited those same mannerisms during the interview, the
detective's testimony amounted to an inadmissible opinion
on credibility and invaded the province of the jury.
the evidence at trial established that a fight arose between
appellant and the alleged victim one evening outside a
convenience store after the two exchanged words about money
the victim claimed appellant owed him for a pair of boots.
punched the victim, and the two men started fighting. The
surveillance video at the convenience store captured the
beginning of the fight when appellant threw the first punch,
but appellant and the victim disappeared from the
camera's view soon thereafter.
victim and appellant were "just going back and
forth" for a while. According to the victim's
testimony, appellant eventually pulled out a razor and
started cutting him with it. At the time of the fight, the
victim was carrying a little silver pocketknife. The victim
testified that he was unable to use his knife because his
hands were too bloody. The victim denied pulling his knife on
appellant or cutting him.
victim was badly cut on his face, head, neck, and arms. When
he realized he was cut, he let appellant go, and appellant
got on his bike and rode away.
detective took a statement from the victim at the hospital.
Because the victim claimed in his statement that he was
unable to use his knife in the fight, the police never
collected or examined the knife.
detective later conducted a videotaped interrogation of
appellant, which was played for the jury. During the
interview, appellant mostly looked at the ground, buried his
face in his hands, and avoided making eye contact.
detective asked appellant what caused him to do what he did.
Appellant responded by writing on paper, "He tried to
kill with his knife." Appellant said the other man was
drinking and tried to hurt him. Appellant claimed the man
beat him up and cut him with a razor or a knife. Appellant
said he could not remember too much after that.
described the man as "big" and said the man was in
a group of three or four people. Appellant denied knowing the
man. When the detective asked appellant if he got the knife
away from the man, appellant replied that he grabbed the
man's hand but could not remember if he got the knife
away from him. Appellant repeated that the man cut him.
Appellant did not call the police after the incident because