EMANUEL JOHNSON v. STATE OF FLORIDA

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Supreme Court of Florida.

EMANUEL JOHNSON Appellant(s) v. STATE OF FLORIDA Appellee(s)

CASE NO.: SC16-959

Decided: December 09, 2016

Emanuel Johnson, a prisoner under sentence of death, appeals the circuit court's order summarily denying his successive motion for postconviction relief, which was filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851, and his motion to stay the proceedings on his successive postconviction motion in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

We previously affirmed Johnson's convictions and sentences relating to the murder of Iris White, Johnson v. State, 660 So. 2d 637 (Fla. 1995), and the denial of his initial motion for postconviction relief, Johnson v. State, 104 So. 3d 1010 (Fla. 2012). Johnson filed his successive motion for postconviction relief in December 2015, and his motion to stay the proceedings on the successive motion in February 2016, in light of the Supreme Court's January 2016 decision in Hurst v. Florida. Because the decision in Hurst v. Florida has no bearing on the claim raised in Johnson's successive postconviction motion, we affirm the denial of that motion without further discussion.

In his successive motion for postconviction relief, Johnson raised a newly discovered evidence claim based on a 2014 letter from the United States Department of Justice and the attached 2013 FBI report, which criticized the testimony of the FBI's forensic hair analyst at Johnson's trial. We affirm the circuit court's summary denial of the successive motion because Johnson has failed to demonstrate that the newly discovered evidence is of such nature that it would probably produce an acquittal or life sentence on retrial. See e.g., Davis v. State, 26 So. 3d 519, 526 (Fla. 2009); Jones v. State, 709 So. 2d 512, 521 (Fla. 1998). Even assuming that all evidence relating to the FBI's hair comparison analysis should have been excluded from Johnson's trial, there remains significant evidence in the record establishing Johnson's guilt—including a taped confession in which Johnson revealed details that only the killer would have known, fingerprint evidence, and other trace evidence—such that we cannot conclude that exclusion of the hair comparison evidence would probably produce an acquittal on retrial. Nor can we conclude that exclusion of references to the hair comparison evidence during a new penalty phase would probably result in a life sentence. We also reject Johnson's contention that his motions to suppress his confession and other forensic evidence would have been granted if he had been aware of the newly discovered evidence when those motions came to be heard before the trial court. Accordingly, we affirm the circuit court's denial of postconviction relief.

It is so ordered.

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED.

A True Copy

Test:

John A. Tomasino Clerk, Supreme Court

LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, CANADY, POLSTON, and PERRY, JJ., concur. QUINCE, J., recused.

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