final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Krista Marx, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Mara C. Herbert, Assistant
Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Melynda L.
Melear, Senior Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach,
appeal from his conviction and sentence for second degree
murder, appellant, Hiram Gonzalez Morales, contends that the
court erred in denying his "Stand Your Ground"
defense, as well as erred in denying his motion for judgment
of acquittal at his trial. After reviewing the evidence, we
conclude that the court did not err in either respect. We
therefore affirm the judgment and sentence.
State alleged that Morales had shot and killed Crestony Colin
in February 2014, in rural Palm Beach County, and on the next
day, he disposed of the body by placing it in Colin's
rental car and setting the car on fire in rural Broward
County. Morales filed a motion to dismiss based on section
776.032, Florida Statutes, the "Stand Your Ground
Law." Section 776.032(1), Florida Statutes (2014),
A person who uses or threatens to use force as permitted in
s. 776.012, s. 776.013 or s. 776.031 is justified in such
conduct and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil
action for the use or threatened use of such force by the
person, personal representative, or heirs of the person
against whom the force was used or threatened . . . .
self-defense statute, section 776.012(2), Florida Statutes
A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly
force if he or she reasonably believes that using or
threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent
imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself . .
contended that he had shot Colin in self-defense because he
feared for his life. At the hearing on the "Stand Your
Ground" defense, Morales testified that Colin had
contacted him and asked him to run errands with him because
Colin didn't have a valid driver's license. Morales
drove, and Colin asked him to head towards western Palm Beach
County to a remote location. When Morales stopped at a stop
sign, Colin put a gun to his temple and said that he wanted
money. Morales said he pushed Colin's hand down and told
him to stop messing around. Colin brought the gun back up a
second time, pointing it at Morales and screaming that he was
serious and wanted $2000, as he knew Morales had received a
large sum in a social security settlement. Colin had given
Morales drugs in the past and now wanted payment. Morales
testified he told Colin to stop messing around, hit
Colin's hand down, and grabbed his wrist with the gun.
Morales twisted Colin's hand with the gun towards Colin.
Colin turned away towards the passenger door and the gun went
off, killing Colin. During his testimony, Morales
demonstrated to the court how he wrestled with the gun.
Unfortunately, the record does not show the exact motions
that Morales used.
started driving, and when one of Colin's two phones
started to ring, Morales threw them out the window and kept
driving. He drove to his mother's home and called his
brother, telling him he had an emergency. When the brother
arrived, Morales told him he had shot the victim. The brother
helped him put the body in the trunk of the victim's
rental car and went home.
5:00 a.m. the next morning, Morales called his brother and
asked him to help him get rid of the car. Morales drove the
victim's car, with the brother driving Morales's car
behind him, to western Broward County. There, he parked the
rental car, got gas from the trunk of his car, and set the
victim's car on fire with the body in it. In the process
he burned the calves of his legs. Afterward, he drove back to
his mother's house. He threw the gun away in a dumpster.
days later, police executed a search warrant at his home.
Morales went to the police station and told a detective in a
statement that Colin was his drug dealer. Police indicated
that they had phone records which showed his and the
victim's phones were together. Morales denied that their
phones were together and denied that he had killed Colin. He
did not mention that he had shot Colin in self-defense. When
the detective talked about shackling Morales, ...