CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A man found guilty of first-degree felony murder in connection with the death of a Clay County detective wants a new trial.
Ryan Wilder's attorneys argued Tuesday before the First District Court of Appeals that the court made mistakes during Wilder's trial.
White was shot and killed during a meth house raid in 2012 in Middleburg.
Wilder didn't pull the trigger. But when the jury convicted him of drug trafficking 18 months ago, it also found him guilty in White’s death and the death of the man who shot White. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In Florida, if you are involved in a felony, like trafficking meth, and someone is killed during the crime, you are legally responsible for the victim's death just by being present.
Attorney Ed Birk, who is not affiliated with the case, said Wilder's arguments for a new trial all hinge on his trafficking charge, which is a felony, making him legally responsible for White’s death, even though Wilder didn’t fire the shot that killed him.
“I would say these are not very common arguments,” Birk said.
Wilder was inside a house when Clay County deputies raided it and White was shot.
Investigators found meth, but Wilder's attorneys argue the weight of a toxic meth byproduct was included in the amount found at the scene. The weight of meth reported by deputies constituted a trafficking charge. Wilder's attorneys argue that wasn’t the intent of the law.
“The concept seems pretty straightforward but when you get down to actually measuring it and introducing evidence about it in calculating how much of the drug versus how much of the byproduct was there, that's where you get into the difficulties,” Birk said.
Wilder's attorneys also argue that a law enforcement officer testified meth was being manufactured at the time of the shooting, but a scientific expert testified the process was complete. Wilder’s attorneys argue that information is critical to determining if trafficking was taking place at the time of White’s death.
Wilder's attorneys also argue there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Wilder was actually trafficking meth at the time, something Birk said the appeals court will have to look at evidence to determine.
“Why was he there? Did he know these people? Had he been there before? Was he intending to buy more than just his own personal use -- a small amount -- or an amount larger than the law says is presumed to be for trafficking?” Birk said.
Wilder’s final argument is about a jury instruction on trafficking that he said was misleading.
“Sometimes, even if the wrong instruction is given, the appeals court will say, 'Well, it was wrong, but it was harmless,'” Birk said.
The appeals court will ultimately decide if Wilder’s arguments have merit, and if he will get a new trial.