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Fourth District Reverses Summary Denial Of Post-conviction Relief Motion

Jason Reaves was sentenced to 40 years in prison for charges relating to a home invasion robbery. Kirschner & Garland, P.A. was retained to investigate the circumstances of the prosecution and, as deemed appropriate, file a motion for post-conviction relief (PCR).

The trial court summarily denied the motion without hearing. Thereupon, Attorney Jeffrey H. Garland appealed the summary denial to the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

On August 9, 2006, the Fourth District issued its per curiam decision reversing the summary denial as to claim 7. The Fourth District subsequently issued its mandate on August 25, 2006, returning jurisdiction to the trial court for further proceedings.

Claim 7 was the primary claim in this motion. In it, Reaves claimed generally that his trial counsel failed to properly advise him regarding the availability of legal and factual defenses to the charges. These defenses included the following areas:

1. Defendant’s statement was obtained in violation of his rights to counsel and to remain silent, in that his indication of both was not scrupulously honored by the law enforcement officers conducting the interview.

2. The out-of-court identification procedure (a photographic “line up”) was illegally suggestive with a substantial likelihood of misidentification. The husband and wife victims of the home invasion robbery were asked to look at a array of photographs. The wife was unable to identify anyone. The husband was unable to pick between two of the six photographs – until the investigating detective identified one of the photographs as the arrestee. At that point, the husband identified the defendant as the perpetrator. The identification was contradicted by the original descriptions given of the perpetrators. The defendant had medium-length blonde hair, dark eyes and fair skin. The original description involved nearly shaved hair, blue eyes and swarthy skin.

3. Defendant’s statement did not correlate to the home invasion robbery charged. When interviewed, the defendant had been on a “bender” of drugs and alcohol. The particulars of the statement did not correspond to the crime, and the State admitted as much in its response to the original PCR motion. Defendant contends that his trial lawyer did not advise him that the statement would not have been admissible at a trial, because it did not pertain to the crime charged.

4. A dark .357 handgun was seized during the execution of the search warrant. Unfortunately, the handgun was a completely different color than the gun described by the victims when the offense was originally reported.

5. But for his trial lawyer’s ineffective assistance, the defendant asserts that he would not have entered his no contest pleas.

The case is pending for evidentiary hearing in the St. Lucie County Circuit Court.

Jason Reaves v. State, Case No. 4D05-3482
State v. Jason Reaves, Case No. 02-CF-1105D