Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Morales v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

June 27, 2018


         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Krista Marx, Judge; L.T. Case No. 502014CF003537AXXXMB.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Mara C. Herbert, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Melynda L. Melear, Senior Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          Warner, J.

         In this 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.

         The 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), provides:

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 . . . .

         The self-defense statute, section 776.012(2), Florida Statutes (2014), provides:

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 . . . .

         Morales 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.

         Morales 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.

         Around 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.

         Several 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, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.