appeal from the Circuit Court for Gadsden County. Barbara K.
Thomas, Public Defender, and David A. Henson, Assistant
Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Heather Flanagan Ross, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Williams appeals his conviction and life sentence for robbing
a Dollar General store at gunpoint. He raises two issues on
appeal. First, Mr. Williams argues for a new trial on the
basis that the trial court erred by instructing the jury with
a prior version of the standard jury instruction for
eyewitness identification. Second, he seeks a corrected costs
order because the trial court failed to cite any statutory
authority in imposing a $3.00 teen court
cost. We affirm his judgment and sentence, except as to the
July 20, 2016, a man robbed a Dollar General store in Gretna
at gunpoint and fled. Two Dollar General employees working at
the time thought they recognized the robber as the boyfriend
of an off-duty co-worker who frequently came to the store.
Mr. Williams fled when law enforcement approached him later
that day, but he was caught. That night, law enforcement put
together a six-person photo lineup for the two Dollar General
employees and both employees identified Mr. Williams as the
two years passed before Mr. Williamss case went to trial.
During this time, Florida passed a new eyewitness
identification statute in 2017 addressing the use of photo
lineups by law enforcement. See § 92.70, Fla. Stat.
Among other things, the new law required law enforcement to
conduct photo lineups in a blind manner to avoid officers
from inadvertently communicating cues about specific photos
to witnesses. See id. Where law enforcement failed
to comply with the laws new procedures, the statute provided
for courts and juries to take adverse inferences as to the
reliability of eyewitness identification evidence. See
id. The new law led to the revision of the standard jury
instruction applicable to eyewitness identification in March
2018. See In re: Standard Jury Instructions in
Criminal Cases— Report 2017-09, 238 So.3d 192
(Fla. 2018). The new instruction tracked the requirements of
the new law.
brings us back to Mr. Williamss trial in May 2018. At the
charge conference, the State and the defense could not agree
on which version of the eyewitness identification standard
jury instruction should be used, whether the old version or
the new one. The trial judge decided to go with the prior
instruction applicable when the offense and photo lineup took
place because the new instruction addressed different legal
standards that didnt yet exist when the lineup occurred. Mr.
Williams was subsequently convicted and sentenced. He now
appeals the jury instruction issue seeking a new trial. He
also appeals an unrelated costs issue.
review trial court decisions to give or withhold requested
jury instructions for abuse of discretion. James v.
State, 695 So.2d 1229, 1236 (Fla. 1997) ("[A] trial
court has wide discretion in instructing the jury, and the
courts decision regarding the charge to the jury is reviewed
with a presumption of correctness on appeal.").
"[A] trial judge in a criminal case is not constrained
to give only those instructions that are contained in the
Florida Standard Jury Instructions." Id.
Williams argues the trial court erred by denying his request
to give the most current standard jury instruction related to
eyewitness identification instead of the 2016 version of the
instruction. Mr. Williams denied being the gunman at the
store and argued that use of the old instruction kept the
jury from considering whether law enforcement had complied
with the procedures contained in the new instruction.
However, we see no merit in this argument because the current
standard jury instruction tracks legal requirements for
eyewitness identification that only became effective in 2017,
which was after the robbery and photo lineup occurred in this
case. Again, ...