SECTION 1 - COLQUITT
361 So. 2d 776 (Fla. App. 1978)
Appellant, Ronny A. Zamora, was charged, by way of a four count indictment, with first degree murder, burglary of a dwelling, possession of a firearm while committing a felony, and robbery. To those charges, Zamora entered a plea of not guilty, indicating that he would rely on the defense of insanity. At the conclusion of his trial, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on all four counts of the indictment.
Zamora was subsequently adjudicated in accordance with the verdicts and sentenced as follows: as to count I, first degree murder, Zamora was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment, with credit for time served in the Dade County Jail and parole eligibility in twenty-five years, pursuant to Section 775.082(1), Florida Statutes (1977); as to count II, burglary he was sentenced to twenty-five years in the state penitentiary; as to count III, possession of a firearm, sentence was imposed at three years imprisonment; and as to count IV, robbery, Zamora was sentenced to a term of twenty-five years. All sentences were to run concurrently.
At trial, Zamora's insanity defense was based upon "involuntary subliminal television intoxication." On appeal, Zamora contends that certain rulings of the trial judge limiting the scope of defense counsel's inquiry into the area of television's effect upon sociopathic children effectively frustrated his insanity defense. In particular, appellant argues that the trial judge committed reversible error by failing to allow psychologist Dr. Margaret Hanratty Thomas to testify at trial on the effect of television violence upon adolescent viewers. We are not of the opinion that the court erred in granting the state's motion in limine thereby limiting inquiry into television and its effects on children.
In Florida, the test for sanity is the so-called M'Naghten Rule or "right and wrong" test. That is, a person is legally insane when he is precluded by mental disease from distinguishing between right and wrong at the time of the act. Wheeler v. State, 344 So. 2d 244 (Fla. 1977); Perry v. State, 143 So. 2d 528 (Fla. App. 1962). Irresistible impulse is not recognized as a defense in Florida. Wheeler v. State, supra; Witt v. State, 342 So. 2d 497 (Fla. 1977). Likewise, diminished capacity is not recognized as a defense, unless a defendant's capacity is so diminished that he cannot distinguish right from wrong pursuant to the M'Naghten Rule. * * *
Based upon the law of insanity, as established in this state, the trial judge correctly limited the evidence of insanity to the M'Naghten standard. Sub judice, as brought out through proffer, Dr. Thomas' testimony would have been directed to the effect of television on adolescents, generally. She would have been, however, unable to testify that watching violent television programs to excess affects an individual to the extent that said individual would not be able to distinguish between right and wrong under the M'Naghten test. Her testimony, therefore, would not have been relevant to the proceedings.
A party is entitled to present evidence upon the facts that are relevant to his theory of the case, so long as that theory has support in the law. Steiger v. Massachusetts Casualty Insurance Co., 273 So. 2d 4 (Fla. App. 1973). Relevancy describes evidence that has a legitimate tendency to prove or disprove a given proposition that is material to the case. Zabner v. Howard Johnson's Inc. of Florida, 227 So. 2d 543 (Fla. App. 1969). The only theory of the case that had support in the law was insanity, based upon the M'Naghten standard. Testimony that would not have tended to prove or disprove insanity was properly excluded, as being irrelevant. Dixie-Bell Oil Company, Inc. v. Gold, 275 So. 2d 19 (Fla. App. 1973). As Dr. Thomas' testimony was not relevant as to the issue of insanity, it was properly excluded.
Appellant has additionally argued that he was unduly limited in examining those experts who were permitted to testify at trial. The record, however, does not support this allegation of undue limitation. In those instances where defense counsel was limited in his questioning, such limitation was imposed on the basis of relevancy in light of the M'Naghten standard.
Accordingly, appellant's point I is rejected.
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