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Alexander v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

December 26, 2019

Gregory Alexander, Appellant,
v.
The State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeals from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Miguel M. de la O, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 16-9990

          Carlos J. Martinez, Public Defender, and James Odell, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and David Llanes, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before LINDSEY, HENDON, and MILLER, JJ.

          HENDON, J.

         Gregory Alexander appeals from a judgment and sentence for strong-arm robbery. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         In June 2016, Mr. Alexander was charged by information with strong-arm robbery. The arrest affidavit reflects that in May 2016, Mr. Alexander approached the victim, represented himself as an ex-law enforcement officer and an ex-animal control officer, and then proceeded to tell the victim that he did not like the way the victim was walking his dog. Mr. Alexander told the victim that he had a gun, took the victim's dog away, forced the victim to pay a "fine" of slightly over $100 at the scene, and forced the victim to read something out loud while Mr. Alexander was videotaping the victim. Mr. Alexander released the victim's dog when the victim screamed to a nearby person. Following the incident, Mr. Alexander posted the video of the victim on social media. Mr. Alexander was subsequently arrested and charged with the strong-arm robbery.

         In July 2016, the trial court entered orders appointing two psychologists, Dr. Jethro Toomer and Dr. Rose Huber, to perform competency evaluations of Mr. Alexander. Both psychologists examined Mr. Alexander the following month and issued their reports finding that Mr. Alexander was competent to proceed to trial. The reports note that Mr. Alexander has been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder but was not taking medications for the disorder. Both Dr. Toomer and Dr. Huber expressed concerns because Mr. Alexander was not taking medications for his bipolar disorder. Dr. Toomer's report provides: "Given that he is not following a regimen of medication, monitoring is required with respect to any likely decompensation that may be associated with his participation in the legal proceedings." Dr. Huber's report reflects: "Mr. Alexander has a serious mental illness of Bipolar disorder which can be managed to some degree with psychotropic medication. However, he is currently not [being] prescribed psychotropic medication and therefore his delusions and mood are not stable."

         At a hearing conducted on August 29, 2016, the trial court stated that Mr. Alexander "presents very lucid in court." Thereafter, the parties stipulated that Dr. Toomer and Dr. Huber would testify consistent with their reports. The trial court, however, did not make any findings or enter an order as to Mr. Alexander's competency.

         In November 2016, the trial court appointed two other psychologists to perform competency evaluations of Mr. Alexander, Dr. Michael Jochananov and Dr. Barton Jones. Dr. Jochananov submitted a letter indicating that he unsuccessfully attempted to examine Mr. Alexander, because the detention center was on "lock down." Dr. Jones issued a report indicating that Mr. Alexander was competent to proceed, but his report did not address whether Mr. Alexander has any mental illnesses.

         At a hearing conducted on November 21, 2016, the trial court stated that it could not make the competency determination until it had the second report, and the matter was reset for November 28, 2016. A review of the hearing transcript indicates that the trial court did not make a competency determination, and a review of the record reflects that the trial court did not enter an order as to Mr. Alexander's competency. Nonetheless, the docket sheet erroneously states that the trial court had made a competency determination.

         At a subsequent hearing conducted on June 16, 2017, the trial court conducted a Faretta[1] hearing following Mr. Alexander's request to proceed pro se. During the hearing, Mr. Alexander denied having any "mental issues." Upon completion of the Faretta hearing, ...


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