National Trial Lawyers member John G. DeGirolamo of Lakeland, Florida, won an acquittal for a defendant who was a repeat criminal offender facing three felony charges in Florida by emphasizing multiple, inconsistent versions of prosecution testimony.
He is a member of The National Trial Lawyers top 100 trial lawyers.
Defendant Julian William Bird was acquitted of robbery with a deadly weapon (punishable by a life sentence), attempted felony murder (also punishable by a life sentence) and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (15 year sentence).
Because the defendant demanded a speedy trial and requested that no continuances be sought, DeGirolamo had 60 days to prepare the case.
Making the case more difficult to defend, Bird was a prison releasee reoffender (PRR) and habitual felony offender. "The real issue was of course the PRR classification that turns the charges into what I like to call "maximum/mandatory" sentences, that is, the maximum penalty of life is now the mandatory sentence," DeGirloamo said.
"I chose tactically to sever the possession-of-a-firearm charge so that his six prior felony convictions could not come into the trial, especially since Mr. Bird was not going to testify," he said.
Key to winning the acquittal was the complainant, who gave four different statements to the police about who shot him, what they were wearing, how old they were, how he knew them, and which of the two assailants shot him. "I then used the over-prepared law enforcement detective to highlight all the inconsistencies testified to by the victim," DeGirloamo said.
DeGirolamo opened, cross-examined and closed without calling any witnesses.
The case is State of Florida v. Julian William Bird, No. 2013-CF-009819, Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, in and for Polk County, tried before Judge Catherine L. Combee, Felony Division 4.