final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Geoffrey D. Cohen, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Patrick B. Burke, Assistant
Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Marc B. Hernandez,
Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
Michel Cherfrere, appeals his convictions and sentence,
contending the trial court erred by: (1) allowing the jury to
deliberate on two separate acts of attempted first-degree
murder, after he was charged with only one count for the
offense; (2) failing to hold a proper
Nelsonhearing; (3) failing to hold the necessary
competency hearing and make an independent determination of
Appellant's competency; (4) considering Appellant's
lack of remorse during sentencing; (5) failing to grant a
mistrial after a law enforcement officer gave an opinion when
there was no accident investigation; and (6) allowing
Appellant to represent himself during part of the trial. We
affirm as to all issues raised. We choose to write only on
Issue 1, explaining our reasoning.
appeal arises out of Appellant's third trial on the
charges in this case. The first two trials resulted in
information charged Appellant with attempted first-degree
murder, aggravated child abuse, and child abuse. In its
opening statement, the State explained that the evidence
would show that Appellant tried to murder the victim, his
wife, after she moved out and ended their relationship.
According to the State, the night before the incident, the
wife had gone back to Appellant's house to get some of
her belongings, and she brought some people and the police
with her to keep the peace as she removed her belongings.
Appellant was very upset about the wife's actions.
Appellant vented his anger the next morning, while the wife
and her daughter sat in her SUV at the child's bus stop
waiting for the school bus. Appellant rammed his truck into
the driver's side of the wife's SUV, tried to push
her vehicle farther with his truck after the initial impact,
and then got out and started hitting her vehicle with a
machete. When the wife fled from her SUV, Appellant chased
and stabbed the wife and attacked her daughter as she tried
to shield her mother.
State presented the testimony of neighbors who witnessed the
incident and called 911. Witnesses testified to hearing
Appellant's truck accelerating from up the street before
hearing the crash as he collided with the driver's side
of the wife's SUV, which had been waiting at the curb
where they had seen it every morning waiting for the school
bus. Witness testimony corroborated that Appellant tried to
push the SUV a little farther by ramming it once again with
his truck after the initial impact. Witnesses testified that
Appellant then exited his truck with a machete and began
chopping at the wife's SUV. When the wife ran out of the
SUV, witnesses testified she screamed for help as Appellant
chased her. According to the witnesses, Appellant eventually
got on top of the wife on the ground, with her daughter in
between them. At that time, Appellant was making jabbing or
stabbing motions towards the wife with a big knife in his
hand and the wife was covered in blood. Witnesses testified
the daughter was trying to shield her mother and that she was
covered in blood as well. The witnesses testified that they
did not see the wife attack or chase Appellant at any time.
They testified that Appellant went back to his truck and
grabbed a bottle of liquor and started drinking, and then
pursued the wife and daughter again, but neighbors intervened
and an ambulance and police arrived.
wife also testified to the entire incident, and further
testified that while Appellant was stabbing her repeatedly,
he kept saying, "I'm going to kill you." She
also testified that she eventually grabbed the sharp end of
the knife Appellant was holding while he was on top of her,
cutting her finger, but that she managed to take the knife
from Appellant, after which Appellant bit her, attempted to
choke her, and punched her before going back to his
defense theory of the case was one of self-defense. The
defense asserted the wife was angry that she had been unable
to get a restraining order on Appellant that would force him
out of the house so she could remain in the house herself.
Appellant testified that on the morning of the incident, the
wife came back into Appellant's house and attacked him
with a kitchen knife and that Appellant fled in his truck.
Appellant asserted that the wife pursued him in her SUV, and
that when he tried to make a U-turn, he accidentally hit her
SUV. Appellant testified that the wife was armed with a steak
knife and chased Appellant, so he armed himself with a
machete in self-defense. Despite the evidence introduced
showing the multiple lacerations the wife suffered from the
incident, Appellant denied stabbing her or ever taking the
knife from her, asserting she had the knife the whole time,
and testified he did not know how the wife got her wounds.
Notably, witnesses testified that Appellant did not appear to
be injured at all, but rather, that he was the one chasing
the wife and attacking her.
closing argument, the State explained to the jury that it had
to prove that Appellant did some act intended to cause the
wife's death, and argued that Appellant had done such an
STATE: Well, he did do some act. He did crashing [sic] into
her car, which was his first attempt to try to kill her,
right into the driver's side of her car, and then getting
out, chasing her down ...