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Guy v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

December 18, 2019

GAVIN WASHINGTON GUY, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Marni A. Bryson, Judge; L.T. Case No. 50-2016-CF-011945-AXXX-MB.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Christine C. Geraghty, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Matthew Steven Ocksrider, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          Forst, J.

         Appellant Gavin Washington Guy was convicted for the first-degree murder of his girlfriend ("the victim"). He now raises five issues on appeal. We affirm on all issues raised but write to address Appellant's arguments concerning the trial court's limitation of the defense's time for voir dire of the jury panel, and failure to conduct a Richardson[1] hearing with respect to a recorded jail house statement of Appellant that was discovered and disclosed after trial had begun. Because we find no reversible error, we affirm the trial court's judgment and sentence.

         Background

         Appellant lived with the victim, their children, and the victim's brother, notwithstanding the fact that the victim had a restraining order against Appellant. On the night of the tragic incident in question, the victim and Appellant had an argument when the victim got home from work. Appellant went into his bedroom and took a gun from his dresser. He then confronted the victim and her brother, grabbed the victim by her neck and started to strangle her. The brother pulled Appellant off of the victim and, when Appellant reached for the gun, the victim ran out of the apartment.

         Later that evening, the victim sent a text message to her brother, asking him to get her keys from Appellant. Appellant told the brother that the victim would have to return and ask him for the keys. When the victim did return, however, Appellant refused to give her the keys. Instead, he followed her out of the apartment and, as observed by a neighbor, walked straight up to the victim and shot her in the chest, while she was speaking on her phone to a 911 operator. Appellant was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. His defense was that the gun accidentally discharged during a heated and passionate argument.

         A. Voir Dire

         In a pretrial scheduling order, the predecessor trial court stated that each party would have ninety minutes for voir dire of the jury pool. The predecessor court noted in the scheduling order that "[i]f either side needs additional time, counsel may approach the bench and indicate what important topics and/or questions relating to the juror's qualifications . . . have not been reached and the amount of time desired to accomplish those goals." Appellant filed a written objection, submitting that ninety minutes was an unreasonable amount of time in which to uncover any bias and prejudice of potential jurors in a first-degree murder trial. Appellant asked the court to "abandon or ease its limitation of voir dire."

         When jury selection began six months later, the trial court stated that it would impose the ninety-minute limitation, unless "a real issue . . . arises relative to not being able to cover certain things." The trial court noted that both parties had been given ample time "to structure [their] questioning" and "use [their] 90 minutes."

         The State concluded its voir dire without requesting more time. The following day, before defense counsel began his voir dire, he renewed his objection, arguing that with a remaining juror pool of forty-eight, he was given less than two minutes of questioning per juror. Defense counsel was still questioning potential jurors when the ninety minutes expired. He requested "at least" an additional ninety minutes. The trial court commented to the effect that defense counsel may not have used his time wisely, and limited counsel to an additional ten minutes.

         B. Purported ...


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