NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING
AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF
DAVID ANTHONY NEUMANN
Appeal No. CRC 06-69 APANO
Opinion filed _________________.
Appeal from a judgment and sentence
entered by the Pinellas County Court
County Judge John Carballo
Walter L. Grantham, Jr., Esquire
Attorney for appellant
Nathan T. Vonderheide, Esquire
Assistant State Attorney
ORDER AND OPINION
THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendant, David Anthony Neumann’s, appeal from his conviction following a non-jury trial for reckless driving and racing. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.
At approximately noon, while parked at a traffic light in a business area, a witness observed two cars also stopped at the traffic light. The witness testified that one car had five teenagers in it, and that they were “kind of jumping around.” R. 78. That car started spinning its wheels and took off fast. The other car, however, (the defendant’s car) rapidly accelerated (“shot off like a rocket.” R. 63), and passed the other car, going a high rate of speed. The witness estimated that the defendant’s car was travelling 70-80 m.p.h. in a 45 m.p.h. zone. He said that it appeared he was racing the car next to him. The defendant’s car crashed into the rear of another vehicle that had pulled out of a parking lot but was fully within the lane. The force of the collision was such that it pushed the victim’s vehicle through an intersection. When the police arrived, the defendant admitted racing the other car and traveling at least 70 m.p.h. He tried to explain that the teenage passengers in the other car were “egging him on at the light.” The occupants of the car that was racing the defendant were not located.
Motion for judgment of acquittal properly denied on racing charge
The defendant claims that the trial
court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal on the racing
charge because the evidence was only circumstantial. This Court disagrees that
the evidence was just circumstantial.
The defendant admitted racing, and a confession is direct evidence. See Meyers v. State, 704 So.2d 1368 (
The defendant tries to negate this
by arguing that the admission should never have been admitted because of the corpus delicti rule. Briefly stated, the
corpus delicti rule requires the
State to present some proof of the elements of the crime before any statement
from the defendant can be used. This
proof can be established by circumstantial evidence, and it need not be
uncontroverted or overwhelming. See Esler
v. State, 915 So.2d 637 (
Motion for judgment of acquittal properly denied on reckless driving charge
Next, the defendant claims the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal on the reckless driving charge. The defendant argues there was insufficient evidence because speed alone is insufficient to support a reckless driving charge. There was, however, more than excessive speed present in this case. The testimony established that the defendant rapidly accelerated --- “shot off like a rocket” ---and quickly exceeded the speed limit by at least 25 m.p.h. Moreover, he struck another vehicle directly in the rear. In addition, it was noon time in a business area. Under the Esler standard, this testimony was sufficient.
Lay testimony properly admitted into evidence
In his third issue on appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court should have sustained the objection to the admission of the testimony of the witness that the defendant was travelling between 70 and 80 m.p.h. and was racing the other car. The defendant bases his argument on the fact that the witness, when asked how fast the defendant was travelling, responded: “Just guessing, 70-80.” R. 71. That statement, however, was supplemented by the witness. He explained that after the light turned green he proceeded to 45 m.p.h., and the defendant was double his distance, or more, ahead of him. As noted by the trial court, a lay person can testify about the speed of another vehicle. See e.g., Reeves v. State, 647 So.2d 994 (Fla. 2d DCA 1994).
As noted above, there was ample evidence from the circumstances to support the testimony of the witness that the defendant was racing the other car. It was, therefore, proper to allow this testimony.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this Court affirms the judgment and
DONE AND ORDERED in
Joseph A. Bulone David A. Demers
Circuit Court Judge Circuit Court Judge
Cynthia J. Newton
Circuit Court Judge
cc: Office of the State Attorney
Honorable John Carballo
Walter L. Grantham, Jr., Esquire