final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Edward H. Merrigan Jr., Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Gary Lee Caldwell, Assistant
Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Jonathan P. Picard,
Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
was convicted of aggravated battery with a hate crime. At
trial, the victim and his friend both testified to appellant
stabbing the victim. Appellant's wife and son testified
that the victim hit appellant before the stabbing.
Appellant's defense was that his actions were
self-defense. The state introduced the testimony of a
detective who interviewed the victim at length. During the
detective's testimony, the state directly asked whether,
based on his training and experience, "there [was]
self-defense used in this case by the defendant." The
detective responded, "[N]o." The trial court erred
in admitting this opinion testimony.
detective testified that, based on his training and
experience, there was no self-defense legitimately available
for appellant. If there was no self-defense, then appellant
was effectively left with no defense. The credibility of
appellant's claim of self-defense was exclusively within
the province of the jury. The deputy's testimony invaded
this exclusive province. Thus, we reverse and remand for a
victim, an African American, was visiting his friend when
appellant, a neighbor of the friend, came to sit on a bench
next to the victim. The victim asked appellant why he was
sitting so close, and appellant stated that it was his bench.
Appellant was drinking alcohol and appeared intoxicated. Both
the victim and friend declined appellant's offer of
alcohol. At that point, appellant talked about killing his
wife because she was having an affair with an African
American, using a racial epithet. The friend then asked
appellant if he was a racist. Appellant said his parents were
racists, and then proceeded to use the same racial epithet
over and over. The victim repeatedly asked appellant what
appellant had just said. Appellant told the victim that he
would not "f---ing win." The friend heard the
victim state, "Say that s--t again." The victim
also heard appellant say to appellant's son, "Boy.
Boy. Get him, boy. Attack."
victim then felt something "pop," at which time he
told his friend that he had been stabbed and to call the
police. According to the victim, appellant tried to stab him
again and ran after him saying, "I'm going to
f---ing kill you, n----r." The victim ran away, with
appellant saying, "Come here, n----r. Let me finish the
job." Appellant's son and wife denied that appellant
chased the victim following the stabbing.
police then arrived at the scene and ordered appellant, who
had returned to his house, to exit the house and put his
weapon down. Appellant later gave a statement to Detective
Huertas. Appellant claimed that the victim hit him and broke
his glasses. At trial, appellant's wife and son testified
that the victim was hitting appellant in the head before
appellant stabbed the victim. The victim's friend stated
that he saw the victim standing over appellant, but that the
victim did not put his hands on appellant.
the trial, the detective testified about his investigation.
The detective had spoken at length with the victim and
appellant. The state introduced the following statement
appellant gave to the detective:
I had a bench, a nice little bench and I sit there. One of
the gentleman was the neighbor. The other black has been
sitting out doing drug deals all god damn day, we see them
all the time. We haven't seen him since the other black
guy moved two weeks ago. He came up and started trying to
make me buy drugs. So I'm sitting there drinking and all
that and we're standing-the conversation gets a little
sh--ty. The neighbor guy gets up and walks away. The guy from
next door, he doesn't live there anymore. It was his
mother-in-law that owned the place but she sold the place now
so we have a new landlord, all right. And this guy starts, I
mean, I don't know how to explain-I'm sitting there
and he's right here. There's-he's pushing at me
and he started to slap me in the head. Everything I can
[T]his guy started slapping me in the head, and I drove him
in the f---ing ...