Harris v. State, 93-2008

Citation650 So.2d 639
Decision Date01 February 1995
Docket NumberNo. 93-2008,93-2008
Parties20 Fla. L. Weekly D305 Willie B. HARRIS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)


We sua sponte modify our opinion in regard to the last issue, grant appellant's motion for clarification, withdraw our opinion filed October 5, 1994, and substitute the following.

Defendant appeals a departure sentence of 30 years imposed as a result of his conviction for attempted second degree murder with a weapon. We conclude that the trial court did not err in departing from the recommended guidelines because of excessive brutality, that the court did not err in scoring the crime as a first degree felony, but that the court did err in scoring defendant's 1966 second degree murder conviction as a life felony.

Defendant called his estranged wife in the middle of the night and told her he was going to kill her if she and the children did not return to their home. Later that day, as she was parking her car prior to entering her place of employment, defendant smashed her window with a hammer. When she got out of the car defendant struck her in the head numerous times with a hammer, with "full swing" blows, according to an eyewitness.

The victim testified that while trying to protect her head she was hit on both hands, and one of her thumbs was crushed. Defendant held her by the hair and struck her in the eye with the hammer. She felt her skull crack. She suffered fractures to her cheekbones, eyesocket and an eye injury. Although she could not remember how many times she was struck she had six round spots on her head where her hair had not grown back.

The trial court gave two written reasons for departure, extensive continuing emotional trauma and excessive brutality. Defendant argues there was no evidence of emotional trauma beyond that which was inherent in this type of attack, and we agree. We do not agree that there was not excessive brutality, however, and therefore affirm the departure. See State v. McCall, 524 So.2d 663 (Fla.1988); Vara v. State, 546 So.2d 1071 (Fla. 2d DCA 1989).

Defendant next argues that his conviction for attempted second degree murder was improperly scored as a first degree felony rather than a second degree felony. Second degree murder is a first degree felony 1; however, the fact that it was attempted, not completed, makes it a second degree felony. 2 The court reclassified the second degree offense as first degree because a weapon was used. 3

Defendant argues that the court went about this in the wrong order. He argues that the court should have first classified the offense as a first degree felony because of the use of the weapon, and then reduced it to a second degree felony because it was only an attempt. We do not agree. The use of the weapon is not an element of second degree murder. The fact that a weapon was used, however, was a reason to reclassify this second degree felony to a first degree felony.

Defendant's method of calculation would simply eliminate the use of the weapon as a factor; however, he has cited no authority to support his argument. His reliance on Ashwood v. State, 616 So.2d 199 (Fla.2d DCA 1993) is misplaced because in Ashwood, the crime was sexual battery with a deadly weapon. The use of the weapon was part of the crime.

We cannot tell from the opinions on which the state relies whether the specific argument which the defendant advances was made in those cases. However, the courts in Howe v. State, 596 So.2d 1227 (Fla.2d DCA 1992), and Montoya v. State, 489 So.2d 794 (Fla.3d DCA 1986), did use the method of calculation used by the trial court here. This conviction was properly scored as a first degree felony.

Defendant also argues that the trial court erroneously classified his 1966 conviction for second degree murder as a life felony on his scoresheet. At the time that offense occurred felonies had...

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5 cases
  • Semenec v. State, 95-2118
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • September 3, 1997
    ...Douglas v. State, 652 So.2d 887 (Fla. 4th DCA)(upholding a departure sentence), rev. denied, 661 So.2d 823 (Fla.1995); Harris v. State, 650 So.2d 639 (Fla. 4th DCA), rev. granted, 658 So.2d 990 (Fla.1995)(approving a departure sentence), approved, 674 So.2d 110 Appellant relies on Waychoff ......
  • Gantorius v. State, 3D99-1872.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • July 5, 2000
    ...pursuant to section 775.087(1)(b), Fla. Stat. (1991). See Baque v. State, 653 So.2d 1105, 1106 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995); Harris v. State, 650 So.2d 639, 641 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995). Consequently, the trial court resentenced the appellant on each of the four attempted second degree murder counts to 25......
  • Harris v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • June 29, 1995
  • Fields v. City of West Palm Beach
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • February 1, 1995
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