Witness evidence is often key in Florida sex crime cases. In a recent case out of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal, the court examined some of the common legal questions that come up related to witness credibility.
The defendant was charged with sexual battery on a victim less than 12 years old. The charge stemmed from an incident in which he allegedly molested a family friend. The court said the defendant was close with the victim’s family and often visited her home. He told a judge that on the morning in question, he arrived at the home high on drugs and lay down next to the victim in the living room. The victim’s father testified that he entered the living room and saw the victim with the defendant’s penis in her mouth.
The defendant told the judge that he fell asleep on the couch and woke up to find that the victim was performing oral sex on him. He said the victim’s father walked in just as he woke up. The victim gave a different account of the incident. She told the judge that the defendant woke her up, grabbed her by the head, and forced her to put his penis in her mouth. But the victim told her mother only that her father walked into the room and saw the victim with the defendant’s penis in her mouth. She didn’t tell her mother that the defendant forced himself on her. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The jury returned the verdict in 12 minutes.