May Co-Defendant Decide Not to Testify In a Joint Trial ?
In Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S. Ct. 1620, 20 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1968), the United States Supreme Court held that at a joint trial where a codefendant does not testify, a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation is violated when a statement by the codefendant that inculpates the defendant is admitted into evidence. Id. at 136-37.
"Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.152(b)(1)(A), a severance of defendants may be ordered when it is appropriate to promote a fair determination of the guilt or innocence of the defendants." Farina v. State, 801 So. 2d 44, 52 (Fla. 2001).
However, "severance is not necessary when the evidence is 'presented in such a manner that the jury can distinguish the evidence relating to each defendant's acts, conduct and statements, and can then apply the law intelligently and without confusion to determine the individual defendant's guilt or innocence.' " Id. (quoting Coleman v. State, 610 So. 2d 1283, 1285 (Fla. 1992)).
The trial court's decision on a motion to sever is subject to review for an abuse of discretion. See Farina, 801 So. 2d at 52.
Given that the trial court ultimately ruled that Parker's statement was inadmissible, no Bruton violation can be gleaned from the trial court's denial of the motion to sever.