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King v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

November 13, 2019

Mary Arlette King, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Bay County. Brantley S. Clark, Jr., Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, David A. Henson, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Virginia Chester Harris, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          B.L. Thomas, J.

         Appellant challenges the trial court's ruling denying her motion for judgment of acquittal as to counts one and two, denying her specially requested jury instruction on causation, and admitting a flounder gig and related pictures into evidence over defense counsel's objection. Appellant was charged with one count of principal to manslaughter and one count of aggravated battery by striking the victim with a flounder gig[*].

         Facts

         Appellant, the victim, and Thomas Hutchinson, the victim's friend and Appellant's co-defendant, charged as a principal to manslaughter by culpable negligence, went boating in West Bay to gator hunt. Eventually, however, they began harvesting other people's crab traps. They were all drinking.

         At some point during their travels the boat began taking on water. The victim refused to move to the middle of the boat to keep the boat from sinking. Eventually the boat took on so much water that the three had to push the boat to shore. The victim then refused to help the other two bail the water out of the boat. The victim said since it was not his boat he was not going to help. This made Hutchinson angry. Appellant was also frustrated with the victim for his failure to cooperate.

         In her frustration, Appellant punched the victim one time in the face with her fist. She then stabbed the victim one time with a flounder gig. While she was getting the flounder gig, Hutchinson punched and stabbed the victim. Appellant was unaware that Hutchinson stabbed the victim until later. Hutchinson then yelled at the victim for disrespecting his boat and told the victim to leave. The victim obliged and was last seen swimming over to some nearby trees while holding his side.

         Appellant and Hutchinson waited for hours to be rescued. About a half-hour after the victim swam away, Hutchinson told Appellant that he had stabbed the victim. He told Appellant that he sliced the victim in his back, but not bad enough to kill him.

         Eventually the Bay County Sherriff's Office sent out a helicopter to search for the stranded boat and its three passengers. The helicopter pilot and a deputy located the partially sunken boat on a levy. The thermal imaging device detected three heat signatures, but when the deputy shined a spot light in the area, he only saw two people. The pilot circled the boat long enough to confirm that a private search party reached the stranded passengers.

         In the early morning hours, the private search party towed the stranded boat and its two passengers back to the dock at Carl Grey Park. Two officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were present when the boat came in and they observed a flounder gig in the boat.

         Due to an outstanding warrant, Appellant was detained and taken into custody shortly after the boat arrived at the dock. Hutchinson gave a statement to the officers. He told the officers that he and the victim had argued about taking traps illegally, so the victim got out of the boat and swam to shore. Based on this information, the officers did not send a search party to look for the victim.

         Officers later received information causing them to suspect that the victim's welfare was not as previously represented by Hutchinson. A sergeant with the Bay County Sherriff's Office went to the jail to speak with Appellant. Appellant told the sergeant that the victim had been drunk, punched in the face, and sliced up by a knife. Later, in two subsequent interviews, Appellant admitted to hitting the victim once in the face and stabbing him once with a flounder gig.

         Based on the information provided by Appellant, the officers initiated a search. Shortly after the search resumed the next day, the victim's body was found floating face down in East Bay. On that same day, officers went to Hutchinson's residence and seized a ...


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