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State v. Parker

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

June 26, 2019

STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellant,
v.
J.B. PARKER, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal of non-final order from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Martin County; Elizabeth Metzger, Judge; L.T. Case No. 431982CF000352C.

          Ashley B. Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Leslie T. Campbell, Senior Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Baya Harrison, III, Monticello, for appellee.

          MAY, J.

         The State appeals an order granting the defendant's motion to suppress. It argues the trial court erred in granting the motion without an evidentiary hearing and in relying on Parker v. State, 89 So.3d 844 (Fla. 2011). We agree and reverse.

         A full procedural history is unnecessary to our decision. Suffice it to say, this case has had a long past. In 1982, the defendant and co-defendants robbed, kidnapped, and murdered a convenience store clerk. The defendant gave statements and claimed a co-defendant stabbed and shot the victim.

         In 1983, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to death. In 1985, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the conviction and sentence. Parker v. State, 476 So.2d 134, 135 (Fla. 1985) ("Parker I"). In 1992, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the defendant's May 5, 1982 statement was inadmissible. Parker v. Singletary, 974 F.2d 1562, 1574 (11th Cir. 1992) ("Parker IV"). The federal court concluded, however, that the error was harmless and affirmed an order denying habeas corpus relief. Id.

         In 1996, the trial court granted postconviction relief and ordered a new penalty phase trial based on newly-discovered evidence. In 1998, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed this ruling. State v. Parker, 721 So.2d 1147, 1151 (Fla. 1998) ("Parker V").

         During the second penalty phase trial, the defendant moved to suppress his May 7, 1982 statement, arguing that it derived from the inadmissible May 5, 1982 statement. The trial court granted the State's motion to quash the motion to suppress, and the defendant was again sentenced to death.

         On appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida relinquished jurisdiction to the trial court to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress the May 7, 1982 statement. Parker v. State, 873 So.2d 270, 278 (Fla. 2004) ("Parker VI"). The issue was whether the defendant reinitiated contact with police after the May 5, 1982 statement.

         Rather than presenting testimony, defense counsel and the State stipulated to the record and allowed the court to rule without an evidentiary hearing. The trial court found the defendant reinitiated contact with the police before the May 7, 1982 statement and knowingly and intelligently waived his rights. The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the denial of the motion to suppress and the death sentence. Id. at 281.

         In 2006, the defendant filed another postconviction motion claiming that his counsel was ineffective at the motion to suppress hearing by stipulating to the use of the record, which contained inadmissible hearsay. The trial court denied the motion.

         On appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida concluded that counsel had been deficient, but found no prejudice to warrant postconviction relief. Parker v. State, 89 So.3d 844, 850 (Fla. 2011) ("Parker VIII"). In its decision, the supreme court explained: "[w]e conclude that there would not have been competent, substantial evidence to support the trial court's finding that [the defendant] initiated the May 7 interview, absent the stipulated-to hearsay statements." Id. at 867. The supreme court recognized that, but for counsel's deficiency, the May 7, 1982 statement "would have been suppressed." Id. at 868. Despite this, ...


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