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Pujol v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

November 13, 2019

Crystal PUJOL, Appellant,
v.
The STATE of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

Page 521

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower Tribunal No. 14-22751A Ellen Sue Venzer, Judge.

          Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and James A. Odell, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Kayla Heather McNab, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before LINDSEY, HENDON, and GORDO, JJ.

         LINDSEY, J.

         Crystal Pujol appeals her conviction and sentence for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, grand theft, and criminal mischief. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         When Kristen Bauer and Danny Malone returned to their home on September 12, 2014, they discovered they had been burglarized. Bauer and Malone reported to law enforcement that multiple items in their home were either out of place, broken, or missing. No person witnessed the burglary and no direct physical evidence was left behind. Nevertheless, during his preliminary investigation, Miami-Dade Detective Kelvin Peguero Bruno learned that Bauer and Malone's neighbor's surveillance camera captured the incident.

         The surveillance footage showed a silver Hyundai drive up to and park in front of Bauer and Malone's home. A slim, light-skinned woman with long, red hair exited from the driver's side, approached the house, and knocked on the door. Shortly thereafter, the woman returned to the vehicle. As the woman got back into the vehicle, a man exited from the passenger's side door. He then proceeded toward the back of the house, and the woman drove off. Approximately 15 minutes later, the silver car returned to Bauer and Malone's home. The man ran out of the house carrying a pillowcase and a suitcase. He placed both items in the trunk before getting back into the vehicle as it drove away.

         Detective Bruno and Detective Raquel Mascarena were initially unable to identify the perpetrators based on the surveillance footage alone because they could not get a clear look at their faces. The only physical characteristics they were able to make out were the perpetrators' skin color, hair color, and build. The detectives were, however, able to discern the vehicle's license plate number. From that, the detectives were able to learn the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle, Crystal Pujol, the defendant in this case.

         Armed with this information, the detectives drove to Pujol's registered address and surveilled the property from a few blocks away in an unmarked car. Approximately 40 minutes later, the detectives witnessed two individuals who matched the descriptions of the perpetrators get in a green Toyota and drive off. The detectives followed the vehicle as it made its way from Broward County into Miami-Dade County. Once the vehicle entered Miami-Dade County, the detectives instructed a different officer in a marked police car to pull the vehicle over. Pujol and her male passenger, Antwan Holmes, were arrested and taken to the police station for processing. A search incident to arrest revealed a pair of gloves and a crowbar inside the car.

         Pujol was wearing a lot of jewelry at the time of her arrest. At the police station, the officers asked Pujol to remove all the jewelry. Bauer identified two pieces of jewelry she had reported stolen. During her recorded, post-Miranda interview, Pujol admitted that she owned the silver Hyundai, but denied being involved with the burglary. She stated that she was in the area with Holmes at the time because she was looking for a new place to rent and that she knocked on the door of a few houses displaying "for rent" signs. Pujol maintained her innocence and proceeded to trial. Holmes, however, admitted that he was the man in the surveillance footage and pled guilty to the charges against him.

         At trial, Holmes testified that the woman in the video was ...


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