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Curry v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

November 6, 2019

Benjamin Curry, Appellant,
v.
The State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Miguel de la O, Judge Lower Tribunal No. 14-24825 A

          Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Robert Kalter and Jonathan Greenberg, Assistant Public Defenders, for appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Jonathan Tanoos (Tampa), Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before SALTER, LINDSEY, and HENDON, JJ.

          HENDON, J.

          Benjamin Curry ("the Defendant") appeals from his conviction and sentence for first degree murder. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         The Defendant and his brother, Nathan Curry, were charged with the first degree murder of Lonnie Reese ("victim"). At the time of the homicide, the Defendant was sixteen years old and Nathan was fifteen years old. The Defendant and Nathan were tried separately, and during both trials, the State's position was that the Defendant actually discharged the firearm and Nathan aided and abetted the Defendant in committing the crime.[1] At the Defendant's trial, his defense was that Nathan was the actual shooter and he (the Defendant) did not assist Nathan.

         During opening statement, defense counsel argued, in part, as follows:

You will see there's no physical evidence, whether it was raining that day or sunny that day. There is no DNA of any type. There's no fingerprints of any type. There's no nothing of any type which connect Benjamin Curry to the shooting.
No blood is ever found with Benjamin Curry. No firearm is found at all for that matter by the police. You'll see that the police investigation, especially early on, when the shooting took place is not really very good.
You're going to see holes in the police investigation. You're going to see problem in the police investigation. You're going to see that after Mr. Reese passed away, the homicide people from Miami-Dade Police Department took over the case, and they went to begin their investigation. And it wasn't very good either.
You're going to see the flaw in the police investigation for a shooting that took place in that Brownsville neighborhood is not very good, not very thorough, and that the police really didn't do a whole lot in order to solve this case.

         The State presented evidence that showed, among other things, the Defendant's mother reported to the police that her vehicle had been broken into and her firearm was stolen from the vehicle. The vehicle was processed for fingerprints and nine latent fingerprints were retrieved. Of the nine fingerprints, six were of value. One fingerprint belonged to the Defendant's mother and the remaining five did not belong to the victim and could not be identified. A few days after the firearm was stolen from the vehicle, the Defendant and Nathan began to threaten the victim because they believed he stole their mother's firearm. Five days ...


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