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Gordon v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

December 11, 2019

TRAVIS L. GORDON, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Indian River County; Cynthia L. Cox, Judge; L.T. Case No. 312015CF001562A.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Tatjana Ostapoff, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Georgina Jimenez-Orosa, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          Forst, J.

         Appellant Travis Gordon appeals from his convictions on two counts of attempted first-degree murder with a weapon. We affirm Appellant's convictions in all respects, finding no error in any of the issues raised on appeal. We write to address Appellant's arguments that the trial court erred (1) in failing to conduct a hearing to independently determine Appellant's competency to stand trial, and (2) in denying Appellant's motion for judgment of acquittal of the attempted first-degree murder charges which was premised on the claim that the State failed to present sufficient evidence of premeditation.

         Background

         On the day of the incident, Appellant and victims Williams and Simmons had spent several hours socializing together at Williams' home. At some point Appellant asked to use the bathroom and walked towards Williams who was sitting on the couch. When he got close to Williams, Appellant stopped and, seemingly unprovoked, directed an expletive at Williams before pulling a knife from his back pocket and stabbing Williams more than eighteen times. Appellant did not stop attacking Williams until Simmons pulled Appellant off of him, giving Williams the opportunity to run for the door. A neighbor eventually found Williams in the street, where he had collapsed.

         Meanwhile, inside the house, Appellant turned to Simmons and exclaimed, "I'll do it to you too, I'll kill you," before stabbing Simmons in his side numerous times. Simmons tried to defend himself and eventually escaped from the house and ran to a neighbor's residence, where he waited for police. As a result of the attack, Williams lapsed into a coma and spent four months in the hospital, where he underwent eight surgeries and numerous blood transfusions.

         A. Appellant's Insanity Defense

         Before trial, defense counsel timely filed a notice of intent to rely on the insanity defense, in compliance with Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.216(b). In the notice, defense counsel asserted that Appellant "had been examined by [a mental health expert] and that the defense was expected to prove at trial through the testimony of [the expert] that [Appellant] was laboring under a mental disease, infirmity or defect at the time of the alleged offense" (emphasis added).

         In response to the defense's notice, the State filed a "Motion to Appoint Mental Health Experts." The State expressly stated in the motion that the motion was filed pursuant to Rule 3.216(d).

         The State also attached to its motion a proposed form order granting the motion and appointing Dr. Landrum, another mental health expert, to examine Appellant. The proposed form order left blank a provision used in relation to claims of incompetency to stand trial under Rules 3.210(b) and 3.211(a).

         The trial court granted the State's motion and appointed Dr. Landrum to evaluate Appellant's mental state. But instead of signing the State's proposed order, the court entered a different standard form order and filled in the provision related to incompetency and set a date for a competency hearing. However, the court never held this competency hearing and neither party objected nor expressed any concerns regarding ...


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