final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
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.
2016, the father of a teenage girl notified law enforcement
of his daughter's allegations of being molested by Mathis
as a young girl. Mathis was a former boyfriend of the
victim's 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 driver's 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 Mathis's 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 didn't demonstrate his
consciousness of guilt or his wish to evade prosecution
because he hadn't been arrested or threatened with
prosecution yet when the attempt occurred. The State
countered that the suicide attempt evidence demonstrated
Mathis's 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 Mathis's motion concluding that under the
circumstances his suicide attempt showed a consciousness of
trial, both the victim and her mother testified regarding
Mathis's 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 victim's 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 didn't respond. According to the victim,
her father notified law enforcement after he learned of her
allegations against Mathis.
victim's mother also testified at trial. Mathis was her
ex-boyfriend with whom she and the victim had lived for about
five years. The victim's mother recalled Mathis's
practice of getting up and leaving the bedroom at night after
they had gone to bed together. She wouldn't typically get
up with him. But one night she remembered leaving the bedroom
to find Mathis in the victim's room on his knees beside
her bed with his hands and head under her covers. It was
dark, and the victim's 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
victim's mother finally learn what Mathis had done to the
other witness at trial addressed Mathis's 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 victim's father had notified law
enforcement), a Bay County Sheriff's Deputy responded to
a call about a possible attempted suicide. Upon arrival, the
deputy encountered Mathis sitting in the driver's seat of
a pick-up truck. He was having difficulty breathing and had
ligature marks around his neck. There were two belts lying in
the passenger seat of the truck and a rope with a noose
hanging from a nearby tree.
ultimately found Mathis guilty as charged and sentenced ...