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Fields v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

October 11, 2019



          3.850 Appeal from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, David Dugan, Judge.

          Matthew J. Troccoli, of Law Offices of Matthew Troccoli, P.A., Miami, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Bonnie Jean Parrish, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          LAMBERT, J.

         George Fields appeals from a final order denying his Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 motion for postconviction relief. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         In May 2010, Fields shot and killed Rayshon Kenerly. He was indicted for first-degree murder with a firearm and was later convicted after trial of the lesser-included offense of second-degree murder with a firearm. Fields was sentenced to serve life in prison with a twenty-five-year mandatory-minimum provision. His direct appeal of this conviction and sentence was affirmed by this court without opinion. Fields v. State, 181 So.3d 505 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015).

         Fields then timely filed a motion for postconviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850, in which he raised four grounds for relief. He asserted that his trial counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance by: (1) failing to object to and essentially conceding to a self-defense jury instruction that, in Fields's view, incorrectly instructed the jury that he had a duty to retreat before using deadly force; (2) failing to file a pretrial "Stand Your Ground" motion to dismiss under section 776.032(1), Florida Statutes (2010), arguing that he was immune from prosecution because his use of deadly force was justified; (3) failing to call Fields's brother, Terry Fields ("Terry"), to testify as a witness at trial; and (4) failing to move for a mistrial due to the alleged misconduct of one of the jurors. The postconviction court held an evidentiary hearing on the third ground, at which Fields, his brother, and his trial counsel testified. The court then entered the final order now under review, denying all grounds raised in the motion. In this appeal, Fields is challenging the denial of grounds one, two, and three.

         The altercation that led to Kenerly's death was over money allegedly owed to him by Terry, who ran a car detailing business that was owned by Fields. Kenerly believed that Terry owed him $20 for some car detailing work that he had done, and he arranged to meet with Fields and his brother to collect his money. Fields and Terry drove to meet Kenerly; at which point, Terry handed Kenerly $10. Kenerly was upset about not being paid in full; and, shortly thereafter, he made several heated phone calls to Terry, demanding the additional $10. During one of these calls, Kenerly allegedly threatened to kill Terry.

         Fields and Terry decided to meet again with Kenerly. They left home and drove back to the same location. Kenerly was still present at this site and was accompanied by his brother, Jerome Kenerly. Trial testimony conflicted over what happened next. Fields testified that Terry exited the car and that as he and Kenerly were about to get into a fight, Fields saw Kenerly reach towards his back pocket to remove what Fields perceived to be a gun. Fields warned Kenerly to get his hand out of his pocket, to no avail. Fearing that his brother was about to be shot and being in fear himself, Fields pulled out his own gun and shot Kenerly several times, resulting in his death.

         Contrary to Fields's testimony, the State presented evidence that as Fields and his brother were driving up to the eventual site of the shooting, Fields already had his gun sticking out of the car window. Then, after stopping his vehicle, Fields exited with gun in hand, approached Kenerly, and shot him seven times, including twice when Kenerly was lying on the ground. Additionally, the State presented evidence that Kenerly never removed his gun from his back pocket. Fields also gave a statement to law enforcement, which was admitted into evidence at trial, in which he told them that he shot Kenerly with Kenerly's gun. Fields later explained to the jury that he had lied to the police because, as an eight-time convicted felon, he could not lawfully possess a firearm.

         Fields's sole defense was that his use of deadly force in killing Kenerly was justified in his defense of Terry. As previously mentioned, his trial counsel did not file what is commonly referred to as a Stand Your Ground pretrial motion to dismiss under section 776.032(1), Florida Statutes (2010). This statute provides a person with immunity from criminal prosecution if he or she uses such force as permitted under sections 776.012, 776.013, or 776.031, Florida Statutes, which, pertinent here, could include Fields's use of deadly force in defending his brother.

         Instead, Fields's claim of self-defense was presented to the jury. On this issue, the jury was instructed as follows:

An issue in this case is whether the defendant acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the offense with which George Lee Fields is charged if the death of Rayshon Kenerly resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.
"Deadly force" means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.
A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is ...

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