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Williams v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

December 13, 2019

MARQUELLE DOMINIQUE WILLIAMS, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Manatee County; Edward Nicholas, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Matthew J. Salvia, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Pamela Cordova Papasov, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.

          SILBERMAN, Judge.

         Marquelle Dominque Williams appeals the sentences imposed after he entered a no contest plea to the following counts: (1) sale of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a convenience business (carfentanil); (2) neglect of a child (without great bodily harm); (3) driving while license cancelled, suspended, or revoked; (4) sale of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a convenience business (heroin); (5) possession of a conveyance for sale of a controlled substance (carfentanil/heroin); (6) sale or delivery of controlled substance within 1000 feet of a public park (heroin); and (7) possession of a conveyance for sale of a controlled substance (heroin). Williams sought a downward departure sentence under section 921.0026(2)(d), Florida Statutes (2016), on the basis that he required specialized treatment for mental disorders that were not related to substance abuse and that he was amenable to treatment. He contends that the trial court erred in determining that he did not legally qualify for a downward departure under section 921.0026(2)(d). Because the trial court's conclusion appears inconsistent with some of its findings and it is unclear whether the trial court applied the proper standard, we reverse the sentences and remand for resentencing.

         At the sentencing hearing, Dr. Regnier testified that he has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has been qualified as an expert in court. Based on a referral for an evaluation of whether Williams met any criteria for mitigation, Dr. Regnier evaluated Williams. Dr. Regnier reviewed the probable cause affidavit and discovery materials and spoke with Williams' mother. He administered two psychological tests to Williams.

         Testing showed that Williams suffered from bipolar disorder, mood disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Regnier testified that Williams "clearly" had "mental health problems." The doctor opined that Williams had suffered several traumatic experiences in his life that caused him to suffer from PTSD and explained some of these events. Williams self-medicated with marijuana and alcohol, and people with these disorders do this to calm themselves down. A dual-diagnosis program would treat both mental health problems and substance abuse.

         Dr. Regnier testified that in prison Williams would get medication that would "probably calm him down, but it will not deal with the post-traumatic stress in the way that it needs to be dealt with. It won't deal with the mood disorder or the trauma that he's experienced that he needs to work through with a therapist[.]" Williams needed the therapy because he was "in complete denial" and minimized the traumatic events. The doctor recognized the need for a punishment component and suggested "a county jail sentence followed by immediate admission to a dual-diagnosis program and probation." Dr. Regnier described specific programs and recommended one with therapists who treat PTSD where Williams could get the dual-diagnosis treatment that he needed. Dr. Regnier stated that "in prison, that treatment would not be available."

         On cross-examination, Dr. Regnier explained that people with PTSD often suppress emotions, and "[m]any times people with serious mental disorder you can't tell, by looking at them." On redirect, Dr. Regnier testified that although Williams knew he was being evaluated for sentencing purposes, Williams denied any mental health problems. Dr. Regnier had sufficient time to meet with Williams and make a determination on his mental health, explaining that an hour or two to evaluate someone is standard in the field.

         Williams' mother also testified about his background, her own mental health issues that affected how she raised her children, and that she never sought treatment for him. Williams' sister and a retired United States Army sergeant with PTSD also testified on Williams' behalf.

         Williams testified that he had learned a lot during the almost two years he had been incarcerated and had enrolled in programs like life skills and parenting to "learn[] how to become a more productive citizen." If given the opportunity, he was willing to get dual-diagnosis treatment.

         The State argued that Williams did not qualify for a downward departure and that there was very little evidence of depression. There was "no ongoing previous history" and "no observations that he seemed to be exhibiting depression or a lack of motivation or a lack of ability to get up and carry on his daily life, or lack of ability to take care of himself or communicate response appropriately."

         Defense counsel asserted that it was not a matter of mere depression but that a trained psychologist with thirty-five years of experience diagnosed Williams as bipolar and suffering from PTSD. Defense counsel argued that under section 921.0026(2)(d), Williams required specialized treatment for the mental disorders of bipolar ...


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