The Cumulative Effect of the Numerous Similarities Between Two Crimes Establishes Unusual Modus Operandi
In in Crump v. State, 622 So. 2d 963 (Fla. 1993), the police found the nude body of a prostitute (Clark) in an open area adjacent to a Tampa cemetery.
An initial examination of the body showed that Clark had been manually strangled and had ligature marks on her wrists consistent with being bound.
Ten months later, the police found the nude body of another prostitute (Smith) in an open field adjacent to a different Tampa cemetery.
Smith also had been manually strangled and had ligature marks on her wrists consistent with having been bound.
Crump was convicted of the Smith murder, and the State attempted to introduce the Smith murder as Williams rule evidence in the Clark trial.
This Court stated:
This Court has upheld the use of collateral crime evidence when the common features considered in conjunction with each other establish a sufficiently unusual pattern of criminal activity. See Chandler v. State, 442 So. 2d 171, 173 (Fla. 1983).
Although the common features between Smith's murder and Clark's murder may not be unusual when considered individually, taken together these features establish a sufficiently unusual pattern of criminal activity. the common features of the two crimes include: both victims were African-American women with a similar physical build and age (Clark was twenty-eight years old, five feet, two inches and weighed 117 pounds; Smith was thirty-four years old, five feet, five inches tall and weighed 120 pounds); Crump admitted to giving a ride to each victim in his truck in the same area, off Columbus Boulevard in Tampa; Crump admitted to the police that he argued with each victim while giving the victims a ride in his truck; both victims' bodies showed evidence of ligature marks on the wrists; both victims died from manual strangulation; both victims' bodies were found nude and uncovered in an area adjacent to cemeteries within the distance of a mile from each other; and the victims were murdered at different sites from where the bodies were discovered.
The cumulative effect of the numerous similarities between the two crimes establishes an unusual modus operandi which identifies Crump as Clark's murderer.
Thus, we find no error in the admission of the Williams rule evidence. Crump, 622 So. 2d at 968.