Corey Rocker turned eighteen in prison, convicted of a murder in which he never touched the weapon used in it. He turned twenty one and twenty five there, too, and marked his twenty-sixth birthday there this spring, knowing nothing but the gray cinder block walls of Florida’s prisons.
However, thanks to the hard work of Bjorn Brunvand and his office, Rocker walked out of prison a free man who, instead of looking at a life sentence, is now looking at a new life.
Rocker found himself charged with the murder of Brennon Darvane Days, who was eighteen at the time of his demise. Rocker, then sixteen, had attempted to contact Days around the time of Days’ murder, possibly in an effort to purchase illicit drugs. But, on Thursday, January 24, 2008, Rocker was not in the vicinity of Days when he was murdered. According to a subsequent appellate opinion, Rocker was not carrying the murder weapon, nor did he make a demand for money at the time of the murder.
Simply not being the trigger man is not sufficient to avoid a murder charge in many jurisdictions though, including in Florida. Rocker was charged and eventually convicted under Florida’s felony murder rule, which is a rule inherited from English common law that specifies that a defendant who is engaged in an inherently dangerous crime that results in an unlawful killing of another may be held criminally liable for murder even if murder was not his intent.
Although several crimes will trigger the felony murder rule in Florida, Rocky Sharwell, a Board Certified Criminal Appellate Lawyer from Tampa who argued the case before Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals, pointed out that the state of Florida failed to prove that Rocker committed any of those crimes. That fact, made part of the record at trial by Brunvand, won out at the appellate stage, paving the way for Rocker’s freedom.
Brunvand successfully motioned to vacate the felony murder conviction in the relevant circuit court on the above grounds. Immediately after court adjourned, he called Rocker’s grandmother to pick him up from prison. Now a free man, Rocker enjoyed his first home-cooked meal in nine years at his grandma’s house.
Bjorn Brunvand is a Florida Board Certified Criminal Attorney and has been defending individuals in state and federal courts against murder charges for almost a quarter century. Contact our offices today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area charges.