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Date of Issue: March 03, 2010

Court upholds Koenigs’ conviction

A Florida appeals court has upheld the conviction of the Bradenton Beach man who shot Island businesswoman Sue Normand in December 2007.

The Second District Court of Appeals issued its opinion without comment.

In August 2008, a jury convicted Koenigs for shooting Normand in her Island Mail & More store and threatening to shoot two law enforcement officers trying to arrest him on the Gulf of Mexico shore Dec. 5, 2007.

Koenigs was convicted of one count of aggravated battery with a firearm and two counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement.

Manatee County Circuit Court Judge Diana Moreland sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

Soon after the sentencing, public defender James Marion Moorman and special assistant to the public defender Chandra Waite appealed, asserting in their brief that the trial court “abused its discretion in denying appellant’s motion for mistrial after the prosecutor flagrantly and seemingly intentionally violated an order in limine by asking a question deliberately posed to extract prejudicial testimony.” “In limine” means “at the threshold,” and refers to a motion made before the start of a trial.

Koenigs’ defense attorney had made an oral motion to prohibit Normand from giving an opinion as to whether Koenigs intended to shoot her because her answer could only be speculative.

The appeal brief stated that the judge granted the motion, stating, “As to ‘and did you finally decide whether he did it intentionally,’ that question is not going to come in.”

Normand did not testify about her opinion, but Koenigs’ defense maintains that the prosecution tried to introduce the victim’s opinion through another witness, Terri Davis, a detective with the Holmes Beach Police Department when the shooting occurred.

The prosecutor asked Davis about an interview with Normand: “At that point when Ms. Normand finished speaking to you, when she told you the story, had she told you anything, or did she gesture in any way, or indicate anything to you, that indicated to you that what she had described … to you was accidental?”

Koenigs’ defense attorney at the trial objected to the question, which led to a lengthy discussion between the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney over whether the prosecution was trying to introduce to the jury Normand’s opinion as to whether the shooting was accidental or intentional.

Koenigs’ defense sought a mistrial, but the judge declined, instead offering a “correction” on the record.

In the appeal brief, the defense attorneys wrote, “Appellant’s motion for mistrial should have been granted because the prejudicial question violated the in limine order and was posed during the state’s case-in-chief. At which time, reversible error occurred.”

Answering the appeal, the Florida Attorney General’s Office defended the conviction.

Tonja Rene Vickers, an assistant attorney general, responded, arguing that the judge issued a curative instruction — corrected the record — to the jury and “a new trial is unwarranted.”

“A mistrial,” she said, “should be granted only in circumstances where the error committed was so prejudicial as to vitiate the entire trial.”

Vickers said the state presented evidence to rebut the defense claim that the shooting was accidental, including a lab analyst’s testimony that 8 pounds of pressure was required to pull the trigger of Koenig’s gun.

The appeals court issued a single-page opinion that “affirmed” the lower court’s conviction.

Koenigs is in prison at the Florida Reception and Medical Center in Union County. His current release date is Dec. 21, 2046.