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Reynolds v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

October 30, 2019

EDWARD REYNOLDS, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, Nancy Maloney, Judge.

          W. Charles Fletcher, of Law Office of W. Charles Fletcher, P.A., Jacksonville, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Deborah A. Chance, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         We affirm the order finding Appellant, Edward Reynolds, in violation of his probation for committing the new law violations of domestic battery based upon our supreme court's decision in Russell v. State, 982 So.2d 642, 646-48 (Fla. 2008), and for resisting an officer without violence, e.g., N.H. v. State, 890 So.2d 514, 516-17 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005) (juvenile's conduct toward police officers during investigatory stop, including refusing to identify himself, refusing to sit and thus comport himself so that officers could investigate, and physically threatening officers, was sufficient to support finding that juvenile committed offense of resisting officer without violence).[1]

         However, we write to observe three points in response to the dissent. First, some of the arguments relied on by the dissent were either not preserved or were not raised on appeal. For instance, Appellant did not argue below that the officer's observation of the victim's wound was insufficient corroboration because of the temporal break between the battery and observation by law enforcement. Likewise, Appellant did not argue below or in his initial brief that the State was required to present non-hearsay evidence to directly establish the identity of the batterer. Rather, Appellant argued below that there was no direct evidence that a battery occurred at all, implying that the victim might have received the laceration from some conduct other than a battery.

         Second, while the officers in this case did not arrive at the scene in temporal proximity to the battery, in our view, this goes to the weight of the evidence, not to its sufficiency to corroborate the hearsay evidence presented at a violation of probation hearing. To that end, we observe that the trial court made specific findings regarding credibility, and thoroughly explained why, given the totality of the evidence, it believed Appellant committed the battery. While the dissent seems to disagree with the trial court's factual and credibility findings, and we acknowledge that Appellant argued many reasons why the trial court should disbelieve the victim, we will not reweigh the evidence from the appellate bench.

         Third, in our view, the dissent casts the evidence in a light most favorable to the Appellant. The evidence and permissible inferences in our record demonstrate that officers arrived at Appellant's residence, parked on the street, and entered the property through an open gate. The victim told them that she had not called 911 that day, but eventually admitted that Appellant previously struck her, telling officers on one occasion that the battery was a week earlier and at another time indicating that it was two weeks earlier.

         The victim showed the officers a laceration along her gumline, which did not appear fresh. She also showed them pictures of the cut that she had taken right after the battery occurred. The officer testified that he observed the victim's demeanor change when she admitted Appellant hit her, and that she was almost crying.[2]

         Appellant then returned to the residence while officers were still on the scene. Appellant admitted that he saw the police car parked along the road near his property. Appellant then drove into his driveway and stopped to allow his girlfriend to get out and lock the gate while the officers were still on the property. The arresting officer testified that Appellant's headlights were directly illuminating him and his partner when Appellant pulled into the driveway and stopped. Appellant then continued down the driveway, rolled down his window, and started speaking to the officers-all the while driving his truck "uncomfortably close" to the officers.

         Appellant put the truck in park, but when the officers instructed him to get out of his vehicle, he initially refused, telling the officers, "I'm not going to step over there." Rather than promptly comply with the officers' instructions, Appellant continued asking why the officers were there, and ordered them to get off his property.

         When Appellant finally stepped out of his vehicle, the officers placed Appellant under arrest. After adjusting Appellant's handcuffs for his comfort, the officers walked Appellant down the driveway and toward the locked gate. Appellant said "this is my house. If you start with me, I'm going to start something." On the way there, Appellant became increasingly belligerent and confrontational, and threatened to "kick [the officers'] asses."

         Thereafter, Appellant's girlfriend informed the officers that they could not leave without a key to unlock the gate. However, the officers had to "ask several questions" before they located the key in Appellant's left side pocket and were able to unlock the gate in order to exit the property.

         Finally, and notably, after Appellant was in the patrol car, he began yelling, screaming, and kicking the back of the front passenger seat.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, and after receiving live testimony, a partial recording of the actual arrest, and the recorded interviews with the victim and her daughter, the trial court found, in part, that:

[T]he totality of the circumstances, and I include . . . the kicking and the screaming and all of that, and the manner in which all the threatening activity took place beforehand.
. . . .
[Appellant's] actions were aggressive and confrontational. And that, . . . combined with not responding immediately to law enforcement's commands makes all four points of what the ...

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