Florida Third District Court of Appeal – Criminal Headnotes – August 9, 2017
CHARLES KYLE WILLIAMS V. STATE OF FLORIDA – IMPROPER CLOSING ARGUMENT BY PROSECUTOR – VINDICTIVE SENTENCING
Direct appeal from conviction and sentence for aggravated assault.
The appeals court rejects multiple claims of improper comments by the prosecutor in closing argument, finding no abuse of discretion by the trial court in allowing those as to which timely objection was made and no fundamental error in allowing those as to which no objection was made.
Further, the appeals court finds insufficient evidence to establish a presumption the trial court was vindictive in sentencing the defendant to a much longer term than the state had proposed in a plea offer the defendant had rejected. None of the four factors enumerated in Wilson v. State, 845 So. 2d 142 (2003), were present: (1) the trial court had not initiated the plea discussions; (2) it did not urge the defendant to accept the offer, nor suggest his sentence on conviction after a full trial would be affected; (3) absent either of those factors there could be no “disparity” between the sentence proposed in the plea offer and that imposed after the jury trial; and (4) the court sufficiently explained its sentence with reference to information it did not have at the time of the plea offer, i.e., the defendant’s prior felony convictions and the complaining witness’ testimony concerning her physical and psychological injuries.