The Court, in a split decision, said prosecutors did not prove that the accused knew the little girl was asleep in the back of the extended cab pickup truck he stole in May 2006.
It was proven at trial that the accused and another man stole the truck as its owners left it idling briefly in front of a Hialeah furniture store. The truck was found, ransacked, within 30 minutes. The child, though crying, was unharmed.
A jury convicted the accused of kidnapping, burglary to an occupied conveyance, and grand theft auto.
The Third District Court of Appeal - the appellate court for Miami-Dade County - affirmed the kidnapping verdict.
The Supreme Court's ruling said that, "[the accused] maintains that he had no knowledge that there was a child asleep in the backseat when he stole the vehicle, and the lack of evidence in the record certainly supports his argument."
Having been enhanced as a "career criminal," the accused will still serve 30 years for the burglary conviction.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward. Call today to discuss your case.