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 Okaloosa County. John T.
Thomas, Public Defender, and Kathryn Lane, Assistant Public
Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Virginia Chester Harris,
Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Lache Crowell appeals a conviction and life sentence for
murdering her baby. She seeks a new trial arguing that the
trial court abused its discretion by giving deficient jury
instructions that weren't supported by the evidence. We
October 2013, Ms. Crowell received treatment from a doctor
for nausea and vomiting and learned that she was pregnant.
Three months later, Ms. Crowell went to the hospital
complaining again of stomach pain. She was told again that
she was pregnant, and an ultrasound revealed that the baby
was at thirty-nine weeks gestation. Ms. Crowell left the
hospital, and two days later, she gave birth to a baby in the
privacy of her bathroom at home. After the birth, Ms. Crowell
cut the umbilical cord and placed the baby in a trash bag
with garbage in it. She cleaned up the blood in the bathroom
and then discarded the trash bag with the baby outside. The
baby remained in the trash bag for hours in
forty-something-degree weather. Ms. Crowell then got help for
herself from a roommate who didn't know she was pregnant.
The roommate thought Ms. Crowell was bleeding from a bowel
issue and took her to the hospital.
arrival at the hospital, medical personnel discovered that
Ms. Crowell had been there just two days before, while
thirty-nine weeks pregnant, and that she was not pregnant
anymore. Ms. Crowell denied at first that she was the same
person. But after a couple of hours, she admitted to
delivering a baby and leaving the newborn in a trash bag
beside her home. The hospital alerted law enforcement and
they found the baby still in the bag with her feet sticking
out. Law enforcement officers and a paramedic testified to
seeing the baby's chest rise and fall. But upon arrival
at the hospital, the baby was pronounced dead. According to
the death report, the cause of the baby's death was a
combination of hypothermia and asphyxia. The baby had been
stashed outside in the bag for about four hours.
State charged and tried Ms. Crowell for first-degree murder.
A jury heard the case and returned a general verdict of
guilty. The trial court sentenced Ms. Crowell to life in
prison without parole. This timely appeal followed.
case involves the jury instructions given in Ms.
Crowell's first-degree murder trial. We review the trial
court's decision to give or withhold a proposed jury
instruction for an abuse of discretion. Kervin v.
State, 195 So. 3d 1181, 1182 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).
Whether an abuse of discretion occurred depends upon:
"(1) whether the instruction given accurately states the
applicable law; (2) whether the facts in the case support the
instruction; and (3) whether the instruction given was
necessary to allow the jury to properly resolve all issues in
the case." Id. at 1182-83. We presume that the
trial court's ruling on a jury instruction is correct.
Langston v. State, 789 So.2d 1024, 1026 (Fla. 1st
Florida law, the State can make out a first-degree murder
case either by proving premeditated murder or felony murder.
See Dessaure v. State, 891 So.2d 455, 472 (Fla.
2004). The State's case here included evidence supporting
both theories of first-degree murder and the court instructed
the jury on both theories. Ms. Crowell asserts that her
conviction and sentence should be reversed because the felony
murder instructions referred to "caging" and
"torture" of the victim, which she argues to be
unsupported by the facts.
felony murder occurs when an offender kills someone while
committing one of the crimes listed in § 782.04(1)(a)2.,
Florida Statutes (2013). Among these crimes is
"aggravated child abuse." Id. Aggravated
child abuse occurs when a person: (1) commits aggravated
battery on a child; (2) willfully tortures,
maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully
cages a child; or (3) knowingly or willfully abuses
a child causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or
permanent disfigurement to the child. § 827.03, Fla.
Stat. (emphasis added). At the charge conference, defense
counsel objected to the jury being instructed on these
theories, except for child abuse causing great bodily harm or
permanent disability. The trial court agreed to remove the
"maliciously punishes" and "permanent