On Wednesday, February 4 it was announced that the second-degree murder conviction of 23-year-old Frederick Lee Wade had been overturned by a Florida appeals court. Wade, of Jacksonville, was found guilty in 2011 of shooting 20-year-old Kalil McCoy as he rode in the passenger seat of Wade’s vehicle when the two became involved in an argument. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder.
The appeals court ruled that at Wade’s trial the judge gave faulty instructions to the jury. Because the court threw out both the conviction and sentence, prosecutors in the case said they will try Wade for the murder again.
According to a news report at The Florida Times Union, Wade and McCoy had been at a nightclub on June 19 before they went to a park. Upon leaving, an argument started when the victim wanted to roll her window down, but Wade objected. Wade allegedly fired the gun at McCoy after she failed to stop arguing after he told her to “shut up.” There were three other individuals in the vehicle at the time who pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to second-degree murder.
Judge Stephanie Ray, who wrote the unanimous opinion of the three-judge appeals court panel, said that a fundamental error was made by Circuit Judge Tyrie Boyer when Boyer failed to instruct jurors that they could consider manslaughter by culpable negligence, although the judge did tell the jurors they could consider manslaughter by act as a lesser-included offense. In Florida, jurors may consider lesser charges such as manslaughter when they come to the conclusion that an individual is not guilty of the highest crime he/she is charged with.
For the time being, it appears that Wade may be a free man until the time prosecutors put him on trial again for the murder.
As is indicated in this case, appeals court judges carefully examine every nuance of a case to determine if the defendant’s conviction and sentence will stand, or should be overturned. The jury was not properly instructed according to the panel, therefore Wade will get another chance to avoid a life sentence.
It is not often that appeals courts overthrow a conviction, however it does happen. Those who have been wrongly convicted or feel the sentence they were given is unfair should work with an attorney with extensive experience and who is highly skilled in the appeals process.
Anyone imprisoned in the state of Michigan who believes that errors were made in the criminal justice process should consult with a capable Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who can review your case in an effort to determine whether an appeal may be successful.