Allowing State to Present Evidence Concerning Five Collateral Murders In the Prosecution of a Sixth Murder

In Conde v. State, 860 So. 2d 930, 945 (Fla. 2003), the Court found no error where the trial court allowed the State over the course of three days to present evidence concerning five collateral murders in the prosecution of a sixth murder. This Court explained that "the length of this testimony was unavoidable given the fact that five collateral crimes were involved." 860 So. 2d at 946-47. The court further explained that the evidence did not constitute a feature of the trial because the trial court repeatedly instructed the jury on the proper purpose of Williams rule evidence and the State limited its presentation by calling witnesses who could summarize the evidence and by introducing only noncumulative photographs of each crime. Id. at 947. Similarly, in Peterson v. State, 2 So. 3d 146 (Fla.), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 208, 175 L. Ed. 2d 144 (2009), this Court found that evidence of three collateral robberies did not impermissibly become a feature of Peterson's murder trial. This Court reasoned that the trial court did not abuse its discretion because: (1) all of the collateral robberies were sufficiently similar to the charged crime to be probative of identity, which rendered the evidence relevant and admissible; (2) the State limited its presentation to witnesses that were unavoidable due to the number of collateral crimes involved; (3) the State limited the emotional impact of its presentation by having only four victims testify and by cooperating with the trial court and the defense to ensure that unduly prejudicial evidence was not admitted; (4) none of the evidence was offered merely to demonstrate Peterson's criminal propensity; (5) the trial court scrupulously instructed the jury on the proper use of Williams rule evidence before each collateral crime witness. Peterson, 2 So. 3d at 156.