final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Cheryl Caracuzzo, Judge; L.T. Case No.
J. Joffe of Joffe Law, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Deborah Koenig,
Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
Morrison appeals his conviction and life sentence for
second-degree murder. Morrison raises several issues on
appeal, but we write only to address his arguments that the
trial court erred by denying his motion for judgment of
acquittal and that statements made by the prosecution during
closing argument were so egregious under the circumstances to
necessitate a new trial. On those and all other arguments
raised, we affirm the judgment and sentence rendered by the
was found in the street covered in blood, flailing his arms
and repeatedly yelling "I just want to be with you
God." A trail of blood led from Morrison to a house down
the street. Inside the house, officers found an
eighty-one-year-old female on the floor covered in blood. The
victim was barely conscious and had suffered extensive
injuries. She was transported to the hospital, placed on
life-support, and died approximately three months later from
an infection that developed from her feeding tube. The
State's medical expert characterized the beating as
"the triggering event . . . that ultimately led to [the
was also transported to the hospital where he gave a
voluntary statement to the police. Morrison explained that he
had taken flakka and drank "sweet liquor" prior to
the incident and could not recall what had happened because
of the flakka. Morrison did recall, however, that the flakka
"was making me hallucinate like someone was trying to
kill me." Upon the victim's death, the State charged
Morrison with first-degree murder.
State's theory of the case was that Morrison beat the
victim in her home while in a drug-induced psychotic state
brought on by his voluntary consumption of flakka. The
defense argued that Morrison suffered from schizophrenia and
that this psychotic disorder caused him to beat the victim.
The case went to the jury who found Morrison guilty as
charged of first-degree murder.
renewed his previous motion for a judgment of acquittal and
maintained that there was no evidence of premeditation for
first-degree murder. He also argued there was insufficient
evidence of a "depraved mind" to sustain a
conviction for second-degree murder. The trial court agreed
that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of
premeditation and granted the judgment of acquittal for
Morrison's first-degree murder conviction. The court then
adjudicated Morrison guilty of second-degree murder and
sentenced him to life in prison.
Morrison's motion for a judgment of acquittal
courts will not reverse a conviction where it is supported by
"competent substantial evidence." Hobart v.
State, 175 So.3d 191, 199 (Fla. 2015). When determining
the sufficiency of the evidence, "the question is
whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the State, a rational trier of fact could have
found the existence of the elements of the crime beyond ...