Charles T. Newcomb, Appellant,
State of Florida, Appellee.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Columbia County. Wesley R.
Charles M. Collins of Collins Law Firm, Monticello, for
Moody, Attorney General, and Steven E. Woods, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
T. Newcomb appeals his conviction for conspiracy to commit
first-degree murder. He raises four arguments for reversal.
We affirm on all four arguments and write only to address his
argument challenging the trial court's denial of his
motion for judgment of acquittal.
charges against Newcomb stemmed from an FBI investigation
into the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the St. Augustine
area. The FBI's domestic terrorism task force recruited a
civilian confidential informant to infiltrate the Klan. The
CI joined one of the three area chapters and obtained a
high-level security position in the Klan by inflating his
Klan gathering in December 2014, Newcomb, David Moran, and
Thomas Driver approached the CI. The men asked the CI to help
them plan the murder of a man who had assaulted Driver. Based
on this conversation, the FBI equipped the CI with electronic
devices to record his interactions with the three men. The
recordings of several interactions led to charges against the
three men for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Driver entered a plea. Newcomb and Moran went to trial.
trial, the CI testified that Newcomb, Moran, and Driver first
approached him about the murder plot during a Klan gathering.
Moran told the CI that Driver needed his help. Driver
explained that he was a corrections officer and that a man
bit him during an altercation in the prison. Driver showed
the CI a picture of the man. Driver said that the man tested
positive for Hepatitis C. Blood tests first showed that the
man transferred the disease to Driver. Driver learned months
later that the test produced a false positive. He had to
undergo months of unnecessary blood work.
and Moran told the CI that they wanted him to do something
about Driver's attacker, who had been released from
prison. The CI asked Moran and Driver if he should beat up
the man. They were not interested in a beating. The CI asked
if they wanted the man "six feet under." Moran and
Driver looked at each other, and then responded
affirmatively. Next, the CI asked Newcomb if he wanted the
man "six feet under," and Newcomb had the same
response. The CI reported the conversation to the FBI. The
FBI asked the CI to record future conversations with Newcomb,
Moran, and Driver. Recordings of the interactions that follow
were admitted into evidence and played for the jury.
the CI and Newcomb discussed what they needed to do about the
attack on Driver. Newcomb called the attack "attempted
murder." Newcomb expressed that he and Moran wanted to
handle the situation without Driver's involvement. He
stated that any action taken against the attacker should
occur when Driver was at work so Driver would have an alibi.
Newcomb volunteered to help locate the man and stated that he
"could walk right up and put him out of his
weeks later, Newcomb asked the CI if he was available the
next weekend to take care of Driver's problem. Newcomb
told the CI that Moran said that he would join them. The CI
agreed to join them. The CI also reported to Newcomb that he
found the attacker's home in Palatka and that a river was
nearby. Newcomb asked if they were "just going to snatch
him up right there and take him to the river or how are we
going to work this?" He also ...