Cannady v. State

Citation427 So.2d 723
Decision Date24 February 1983
Docket NumberNo. 59974,59974
PartiesMichael Eugene CANNADY, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida

Michael B. Mann, Sp. Public Defender, Panama City, for appellant.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen. and Lawrence A. Kaden, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, for appellee.

PER CURIAM.

This is an appeal from a judgment imposing the death sentence for first-degree murder. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

Appellant Michael Cannady was charged with and convicted of the first-degree murder of William Carrier, the night auditor at the Ramada Inn in Panama City. The main evidence against him consisted of statements he made to Officer Frank McKeithen. Appellant told McKeithen that on December 1, 1979, he stole some money from the Ramada Inn and kidnapped Carrier. He admitted he drove Carrier to a remote wooded area and shot him.

Before trial appellant filed a motion to suppress all oral and written statements on the grounds that they were taken in violation of his constitutional rights and that they were not freely and voluntarily given. At the suppression hearing Officer McKeithen testified that appellant seemed to be in full control of his senses when he confessed and that no threats or promises were made to induce appellant to confess. On cross-examination Officer McKeithen elaborated on the events leading up to appellant's incriminating statements. Officer McKeithen explained that appellant was arrested on December 12 for an unrelated robbery and kidnapping. Because of the similarity between that crime and the one resulting in the death of Carrier, McKeithen questioned appellant as to his whereabouts on the night of the murder. Appellant told McKeithen that he was in Atlanta at that time. After failing to confirm appellant's alibi and after receiving information that appellant had been seen in Panama City the night of the murder, McKeithen asked the jailer to bring appellant into his office on December 22. After advising appellant of his rights, McKeithen confronted appellant with these discrepancies and asked him why he was in Panama City on the night of the murder. At first appellant denied having been in Panama City that night, but when pressed upon the matter, appellant later admitted he lied. According to McKeithen appellant started acting nervous so McKeithen asked him outright if he killed Carrier. Appellant started crying and said, "I didn't mean to shoot that man, I didn't mean to kill that man, it wasn't supposed to happen that way." McKeithen said that appellant kept crying and then said, "I think I should call my lawyer." McKeithen said that he then ceased his questioning and placed a telephone in front of appellant. McKeithen testified that appellant continued crying and kept saying, "I didn't mean to kill that man, it wasn't supposed to happen that way." McKeithen asserted that three or four minutes later he asked appellant if he wanted to talk about it and appellant said yes.

McKeithen said that he then took appellant into the office of Andy McKenzie, Jr., the chief investigator, and called in a secretary to transcribe appellant's confession. McKeithen asserted that he once again read appellant his rights. Appellant signed a waiver of rights form and answered McKeithen's questions, recounting the events surrounding the murder. Both the waiver of rights form and the confession were witnessed by McKeithen and McKenzie.

In response the defense tried to portray a slightly different picture of what happened. Appellant testified that during the month of December he regularly used "Placidyls, Dilaves (phonetic), acid, Valium, pot, coke, Cocaine." He claimed that while in jail he used Millaril, Thorazine, Phenobarbital and Nysoline which he acquired from other inmates. A corrections officer testified that some of these drugs were given to other inmates during this time. Appellant claimed he took three Thorazines the day he confessed and a Millaril the night before. He said he lied to McKeithen about not having taken any drugs so as not to cause his fellow inmates any trouble.

Appellant asserted that when McKeithen told him that someone had seen him in Panama City the night of the murder, he asked to call his lawyer. According to appellant, McKeithen looked at his watch and said that it was 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon and that he doubted very seriously if appellant could get in touch. Appellant claimed that McKeithen then grabbed his hand and said that the drugs had gotten appellant's mind all twisted and that he wanted to help. Appellant said that he confessed in hopes of obtaining help and that he did not realize that the confession would be used against him.

The defense then called as a witness Dr. James Edmund Hord, Jr., a clinical psychologist. Dr. Hord, who had interviewed and tested appellant, testified that appellant's ability to exercise independent judgment was diminished and that appellant was more susceptible than the normal person to responding to an authority figure.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the trial court stated that in the absence of any additional testimony at trial he would allow the statements to go to the jury. At trial neither side proffered any additional testimony concerning the voluntariness of the statements. The court ruled that the statements were freely and voluntarily given and were therefore admissible. Officer McKeithen was called to testify about appellant's incriminating statements. He repeated his testimony about the events leading up to appellant's confession. He then read the confession to the jury. These statements were the only evidence linking appellant to the murder. The state's other witnesses merely corroborated appellant's statements concerning the stolen items and the location of the victim's body.

The defense did not present any evidence. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder.

At the sentencing phase of the trial the state did not present any additional evidence. The defense, however, called two witnesses, appellant's father and Dr. Hord. Appellant's father testified that his son had a nervous breakdown in the fifth grade, dropped out of high school to get married, divorced two and a half years later, underwent a personality change after the divorce, and remarried and divorced a second time. He further testified that after the first divorce appellant became unkempt, vulgar, and irresponsible. Dr. Hord testified as to the effect each of the drugs and narcotics appellant claimed to have been using regularly could have on one's personality. He said that at the time of the murder, appellant was probably suffering from extreme mental or emotional disturbance and was unable to conform his conduct to the requirements of law. On cross-examination, however, he conceded that he had not specifically inquired as to appellant's state of mind on the night of the murder.

The jury recommended a life sentence. The judge considered the recommendation but concluded that the jury was unduly influenced by the presence of appellant's family. The judge found as aggravating circumstances that the crime was committed during the commission of a felony, for pecuniary gain, and in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner, and as mitigating circumstances that appellant had no significant history of prior criminal activity and that he was only twenty-one years old. Finding that the mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating, the judge imposed the death sentence.

Appellant raises two major points on appeal: whether the confession was admissible and whether the sentence of death is proper. For reasons set forth below we find that the confession was admissible and therefore affirm the conviction, but we reduce the death sentence to life imprisonment.

Appellant argues that his confession should not have been admitted into evidence because it was not freely and voluntarily given and because he did not knowingly waive his right to have counsel present. Appellant claims that his confession was not freely and voluntarily given because of his physical and mental condition and because of the hope he had that Officer McKeithen would help him.

An out-of-court confession is inadmissible where, at the time of the confession, the defendant lacked the capacity to exercise a free will or fully appreciate the significance of the statements because of the influence of drugs. Reddish v. State, 167 So.2d 858 (Fla.1964). In this case, however, the evidence was in conflict as to whether appellant was actually under the influence of any type of drug at the time he confessed. Though appellant testified at the suppression hearing that he had taken three Thorazines just before he confessed, he also stated during his confession that he was not under the influence of any drugs and that he knew what he was doing. These latter statements were corroborated by Officer McKeithen's observations that appellant did not appear to be under the influence of any drugs. As for Dr. Hord's testimony concerning the effect extensive drug usage had on appellant's personality, the trial judge was not obligated to elevate these opinions to findings of fact.

With respect to appellant's contention that he was induced into confessing by Officer McKeithen's offer of help, Officer McKeithen admitted that he did tell appellant that he would try to help him. However, there is no evidence that this offer of help was specifically made in exchange for appellant's confession. When, during the confession, Officer McKeithen asked appellant if he had been promised anything, or threatened or mistreated in any way, appellant answered, "No sir, you have been my friend." The mere fact that appellant regarded Officer McKeithen as his friend is insufficient to show that his confession was improperly induced. Halliwell v. State, 323 So.2d 557 (Fla.1975); State v. Oyarzo, 274 So.2d 519 (Fla.1973). We therefore conclude there was...

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