appeal from the Circuit Court for Bay County. Michael C.
Newman of Luke Newman, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Virginia Chester Harris,
Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Wade Mathis was charged and convicted of sexual battery on a
person less than twelve years of age and two counts of lewd
or lascivious molestation. On appeal, Mathis argues, among
other things, that the trial court abused its discretion in
admitting evidence of his suicide attempt. We affirm.
late 2016, the father of a teenage girl notified law
enforcement of his daughters allegations of being molested
by Mathis as a young girl. Mathis was a former boyfriend of
the victims mother, who lived with the victim and her mother
between 2005 and 2010. Before the State filed charges against
Mathis, law enforcement received a call about an attempted
suicide. When a deputy sheriff responded, she discovered
Mathis sitting in the drivers seat of his truck having
difficulty breathing. Mathis had ligature marks around his
neck and had tried to hang himself. The deputy found two
belts lying in the passenger seat of Mathiss truck and a
rope with a noose hanging from a tree outside of the truck.
to his trial, Mathis moved to exclude testimony about his
suicide attempt. He argued that it didnt demonstrate his
consciousness of guilt or his wish to evade prosecution
because he hadnt been arrested or threatened with
prosecution yet when the attempt occurred. The State
countered that the suicide attempt evidence demonstrated
Mathiss consciousness of guilt because it occurred right
after he was confronted by the victim about his sexual
crimes. A day or two earlier, Mathis had received an
e-message from the victim accusing him of molesting her and
asking him for answers about why he would do that. The trial
court denied Mathiss motion concluding that under the
circumstances his suicide attempt showed a consciousness of
trial, both the victim and her mother testified regarding
Mathiss illegal conduct. The victim testified that she
remembered Mathis coming into her room multiple nights a week
when she was young, taking her clothes off, and touching and
licking her in inappropriate places. She waited about six
years to report his conduct to her family. Then, according to
the victims testimony, a day or two after revealing his
crimes to her family, she messaged Mathis to tell him that
she remembered what he had done. And she asked him why he had
done it. Mathis didnt respond. According to the victim, her
father notified law enforcement after he learned of her
allegations against Mathis.
victims mother also testified at trial. Mathis was her
ex-boyfriend with whom she and the victim had lived for about
five years. The victims mother recalled Mathiss practice of
getting up and leaving the bedroom at night after they had
bed together. She wouldnt typically get up with him. But one
night she remembered leaving the bedroom to find Mathis in
the victims room on his knees beside her bed with his hands
and head under her covers. It was dark, and the victims
mother asked what was going on. She got no answers from
Mathis or her daughter and his actions remained a secret. Not
until 2016 did the victims mother finally learn what Mathis
had done to the victim.
other witness at trial addressed Mathiss suicide attempt. On
January 3, 2017, a day or two after he had received the
message from the victim accusing him of sex crimes (and after
the victims father had notified law enforcement), a Bay
County Sheriffs Deputy responded to a call about a possible
attempted suicide. Upon arrival, the deputy encountered
Mathis sitting in the drivers seat of a pick-up truck. He
was having difficulty breathing and had ligature marks ...