County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW --- Search and Seizure --- DUI --- Corpus delicti met where evidence showed police received information from eyewitnesses that a green Jeep had just been in an accident with an ambulance, and the police located the Jeep, determined it was registered to the defendant, parked at the defendant’s address, and had damage consistent with damage done to the ambulance. Judgment and sentence affirmed. McCullough v. State, No. CRC 06-57 APANO, (Fla. 6th Cir.App.Ct. March 11, 2008).

 

 

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING

AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

DOUGLAS MICHAEL MCCULLOUGH

 

            Appellant,

 

v.                                                                                                                                          Appeal No. CRC 06-57 APANO

                                                                       UCN522006AP000057XXXXCR

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

            Appellee.

_____________________________/

 

 

Opinion filed __________________.

 

Appeal from a decision of the

Pinellas County Court

County Judge John D. Carballo

 

Christopher J. Dale, Esquire

Attorney for appellant

 

Tracey L. Sticco

Certified Legal Intern

and Kendall Davidson, Esquire

Assistant State Attorney

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

            THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendant, Douglas McCullough’s, appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence because the trial court properly denied McCullough’s motion to suppress.

            McCullough entered a no contest plea to DUI charges. He reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. He claims his motion to suppress should have been granted because there was insufficient evidence of the corpus delicti. In support of his argument, McCullough cites State v. Wuteska, No. CRC 05-75 APANO, (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. Sept. 25, 2006). In Wuteska, the order granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss was affirmed because the State failed to demonstrate by evidence other than the defendant’s own confession that he had been driving a motor vehicle. Therefore, the State was unable to present sufficient evidence of the corpus delicti. In Wuteska, there was a one-vehicle accident, no witnesses, and the vehicle was not registered to the defendant.

            By contrast, in the case at bar, the police received information that a green Jeep, driven by a sole male, had recently been involved in an accident with an ambulance. A police officer quickly arrived on the scene and was told which direction the suspect fled. The officer quickly found a green Jeep. It was parked in a driveway, and McCullough, a male, was standing about two feet from the Jeep; there was no one else in the area. The officer noticed McCullough had bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol about him, and appeared to be jittery. The Jeep was registered to McCullough and his address was where the Jeep was parked. The officer noticed the Jeep appeared to have recently been in an accident; there was broken glass on the floor of the passenger’s side, and the passenger side mirror was damaged. While the officer was inspecting the Jeep, McCullough admitted that he had been driving and had been in an accident with an ambulance. The officer then went back to the scene of the accident and inspected the ambulance. The damage to the ambulance matched the damage to the Jeep.

            The burden to show the corpus delicti is met is on the State, but it may use circumstantial evidence. Esler v. State, 915 So.2d 637 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005). In the case at bar the State met its burden.  The evidence easily permits an inference that McCullough was driving the green Jeep that caused the accident.  The motion to suppress was properly denied.

            IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of March, 2008.

 

                                                                                    ________________________

                                                                                    Judge Michael A. Andrews

                                                                                    Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

                                                                                    ________________________

                                                                                    Judge Raymond O. Gross                                                                                                       Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

                                                                                    _________________________

                                                                                    Judge R. Timothy Peters

                                                                                    Circuit Court Judge

 

cc:        Office of the State Attorney

 

            Christopher J. Dale, Esquire

 

            Honorable John D. Carballo