State v. Boatwright

Decision Date22 March 1990
Docket NumberNo. 71240,71240
Citation559 So.2d 210
Parties15 Fla. L. Weekly S162 STATE of Florida, Petitioner, v. George BOATWRIGHT, Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., and Gary L. Printy, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, for petitioner.

Michael E. Allen, Public Defender, and David P. Gauldin, Sp. Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, for respondent.

EHRLICH, Chief Justice.

We have for our review Boatwright v. State, 512 So.2d 955, 957 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987), wherein the district court certified the following question of great public importance:

WHETHER THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT, IN STATE V. ENMUND, [476 So.2d 165 (Fla.1985),] MEANT TO PERMIT A TRIAL JUDGE, IN HIS DISCRETION, TO STACK MINIMUM MANDATORY SENTENCES IN ALL CASES CONCERNING CAPITAL FELONIES, OR WHETHER IT MEANT TO RESTRICT THE SCOPE OF ITS HOLDING IN THAT DECISION TO CASES INVOLVING HOMICIDE.

We have jurisdiction, article V, section 3(b)(4), Florida Constitution. We hold that the trial judge has the discretion to stack minimum mandatory sentences in all cases concerning capital felonies. We therefore quash the decision below.

Boatwright was charged with one count of burglary with the intent to commit sexual battery, one count of kidnapping with the intent to commit sexual battery, and two counts of sexual battery upon a person less than twelve years of age. The charges arose from Boatwright's actions during the early morning hours of June 22, 1985, when he broke into the residence of the five-year-old victim and her parents. Boatwright first removed some money from a purse and then went into the bedroom where the five-year-old victim was sleeping. He removed the child from bed and forced her out of a window. Boatwright then took her by the hand and led her down the street into a wooded area. When they entered the woods, Boatwright attempted to have vaginal and anal intercourse with the child. After asking the child her age and name, Boatwright told her they would do it again in three years when she was eight years old, gave the child directions to the road, and then left her alone in the dark to find her way home.

Semen stains on the child's nightgown and panties were of the same blood type as Boatwright's. A crime lab technician testified that fingerprints taken from the dresser in the child's room and a latent print discovered in her bedroom were left by Boatwright and police officers testified that Boatwright admitted that he had attempted to have intercourse with the victim in the woods. The jury found Boatwright guilty of the charged offenses. The trial court sentenced Boatwright to twenty-five years for burglary and twenty-five years for kidnapping. Boatwright received consecutive sentences of life imprisonment with twenty-five-year minimum mandatories for the two sexual batteries.

Boatwright appealed to the First District Court of Appeal, alleging the trial court erred in stacking the minimum mandatory twenty-five-year sentences because his criminal acts occurred in one continuous course of conduct. The district court agreed and reversed the sentences. The state moved for rehearing, claiming the district court's opinion was at variance with Enmund and Pina v. State, 479 So.2d 107 (Fla.1985). On rehearing, the district court adhered to its previous opinion, but certified the question now before this Court. The state now seeks review of the district court's decision.

The state argues this issue is controlled by our decision in Enmund. Boatwright contends the district court decision below must be approved on the basis of Palmer v. State, 438 So.2d 1 (Fla.1983), and Murray v. State, 491 So.2d 1120 (Fla.1986). In Palmer, the defendant walked into a funeral parlor during a wake and robbed those in attendance. The trial court imposed three-year mandatory minimum sentences to run consecutively on each of thirteen consecutive sentences for robbery, for a total of thirty-nine years without eligibility for parole. We recognized that section 775.021(4), Florida Statutes (1981), requires separate sentences for separate offenses arising from a single criminal transaction or episode and allows the trial court to order the sentences served concurrently or consecutively. We rejected, however, the argument that this provided authority for ordering the three-year minimum mandatory sentences to be served consecutively and we remanded with directions to correct the sentences so that the thirteen mandatory minimum sentences would be served concurrently. We held that three-year minimum mandatory sentences for firearm possession while committing a felony, pursuant to section 775.087(2), Florida Statutes (1981), could not be made consecutive for offenses arising from a single criminal episode. Palmer, 438 So.2d at 3. We did recognize that our decision would not prohibit consecutive mandatory minimum sentences for offenses arising from separate incidents occurring at separate times and places. Id. at 4.

In Murray, the defendant and an accomplice abducted a young woman at gunpoint and forced her to drive away with them in her vehicle. After driving for some distance, Murray parked the car and the two men sexually assaulted the victim and took her necklace. The two men then drove the victim to a nearby wooded area where Murray walked with the victim away from the car and told her goodbye. As she began to walk away, Murray shot her through the back of the head, leaving the victim legally blind. Murray was convicted of kidnapping without a firearm, two counts of sexual battery with a firearm, robbery with a firearm, and attempted manslaughter with a firearm. The trial court imposed consecutive three-year mandatory minimum sentences under section 775.087(2) upon Murray for those crimes involving a firearm. The district court found that the actions which resulted in the two counts of sexual battery against Murray occurred at the same time and place, thereby requiring the two mandatory minimums imposed therefor to be served concurrently. Murray v. State, 471 So.2d 70, 72-73 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984). We approved this portion of the district court opinion. Murray, 491 So.2d at 1123. We also approved that portion of the district court decision which upheld the imposition of consecutive mandatory minimums imposed on the single sexual battery and the armed robbery charges, citing the language from Palmer that there was no prohibition against consecutive mandatory minimum sentences for offenses arising from separate incidents occurring at separate times and places. Id.

The decisions in Palmer and Murray were based on the perceived legislative intent in enacting section 775.087(2), Florida Statutes. 1 In Palmer, the Court rejected the state's argument that this section, when read in pari materia with section 775.021(4), 2 allows the "stacking" of mandatory three-year minimum sentences. We concluded that nowhere in the language of section 775.087 was there express authority by which a trial court could deny a defendant eligibility for parole for a period greater than three calendar years when the convictions were for offenses arising from incidents occurring at the same time and place during a continuous course of criminal conduct. We also concluded that the legislature did not intend such a result when it added subsection (4) to section 775.021. 3 Palmer, 438 So.2d at 3-4. In Murray, the Court merely concluded that under the legislative intent behind section 775.087(2), the sexual battery of the victim was sufficiently separate in nature, time, and place from the armed robbery charge to justify application of the consecutive three-year mandatory minimums. Murray, 491 So.2d at 1123. This Court has consistently applied section 775.087(2) as permitting the trial court to impose consecutive three-year mandatory minimum sentences if the acts leading to the convictions are sufficiently separated temporally and/or geographically. See, e.g., State v. Thomas, 487 So.2d 1043 (Fla.1986) (consecutive three-year mandatory minimum sentences appropriate where defendant shot woman four times in her home, followed her outside, paused to fire at the woman's son, and then shot the woman twice more).

In Enmund, relied upon by the state, the trial court imposed life sentences for the murder of a husband and wife with no possibility of parole for twenty-five years. The trial court directed that the two twenty-five-year minimum mandatories would run consecutively, thereby making Enmund ineligible for parole for fifty years. On appeal the district court held that the minimum mandatories could only be concurrent, not consecutive, basing its conclusion on Palmer. Enmund v. State, 459 So.2d 1160 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984). We quashed the district court's decision and held that the minimum mandatory sentences could be imposed either consecutively or concurrently, in the trial court's discretion. 476 So.2d at 168. See also Pina.

The state contends that the holdings in Enmund and Pina, that consecutive stacking of minimum mandatory sentences for capital homicides is permissible, is equally applicable to capital sexual battery. We agree. Our decision in Enmund was premised not on the fact that the convictions were for first-degree murder but rather on the interpretation and application of the relevant statutes involved. As we stated in Enmund:

Section 921.141, Florida Statutes (1983), provides that a person convicted of a capital felony shall be sentenced to death or to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for twenty-five years. Any such person not sentenced to death "shall be punished by life imprisonment and shall be required to serve no less than 25 years before becoming eligible for parole." § 775.082(1), Fla. Stat. (1983). We hold that the legislature intended that the minimum mandatory time to be served before becoming eligible for parole from a conviction of first-degree murder may be imposed either consecutively or concurrently, in the trial court's...

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