Encouraging a Murder by a Gesture Made by Co-Defendant
In Kight v. State 512 So. 2d 922 (Fla. 1987), the court excluded testimony that elaborated on whether the codefendant encouraged the murder of the victim by the gesture of pressing his hand over the hand of the defendant who was pressing the knife against the victim's throat. See Kight, 512 So. 2d at 929.
In Kight the gesture obviously encouraged the killing of the victim; thus, the interpretation of the gesture improperly invaded the province of the jury. Id.
As in other jurisdictions, clearly the law of Florida should permit participants in conversations to explain their understanding of the meaning of the words used in the conversations.
United States v. Delpit, 94 F.3d 1134, 1145 (11th Cir. 1996) ("There is no more reason to expect unassisted jurors to understand drug dealer's cryptic slang than antitrust theory or asbestosis.");
United States v. Flores, 63 F.3d 1342, 1359 (5th Cir. 1995) (witness's testimony on meaning of code phrases was essential to jury's understanding);
United States v. Awan, 966 F.2d 1415 (11th Cir. 1992) (witness who was a police officer familiar with finance and money laundering could properly explain terms used in the conversation to the jury);
Parker v. State, 333 Ark. 137, 968 S.W.2d 592, 599-600 (Ark. 1998) (witness who was familiar with terminology around neighborhood could properly testify to meaning of colloquial phrase "I got him," as it aided jury, which was free to disregard the witness's opinion testimony);
State v. Johnson, 309 N.J. Super. 237, 706 A.2d 1160, 1172 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1998) (witness who was former prisoner and had knowledge of street terminology properly assisted jury in explaining slang phrase "get paid," that was unfamiliar to average juror);
Johnson v. State, 975 S.W.2d 644, 654 (Tex. App. 1998) (witness who was police officer could interpret slang for jury).