FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION, AND IF
Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Orange County, Lisa
Taylor Munyon, Judge - Case No. 482006CF002848000AOX And an
Original Proceeding - Habeas Corpus
V. Viggiano, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, and Julissa
Fontán, Maria E. DeLiberato, and Chelsea Rae Shirley,
Assistant Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Middle Region,
Temple Terrace, Florida, for Appellant/Petitioner
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida; and Scott
A. Browne, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, Florida,
Patrick Abdool appeals the denial of his motion to vacate his
conviction of first-degree murder and sentence of death filed
under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851, and he also
petitions this Court for a writ of habeas
corpus. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the
denial of Abdool's postconviction guilt phase claims and
deny his guilt phase habeas claim, but we vacate his death
sentence and remand for a new penalty phase.
facts of this case were fully set out in this Court's
opinion on direct appeal. See Abdool v. State, 53
So.3d 208 (Fla. 2010). Briefly, between the late-evening
hours of February 24, 2006, and the early-morning hours of
February 25, 2006, after the two engaged in consensual sex,
19-year-old Abdool drove 17-year-old Amelia Sookdeo to a
remote area, bound her with duct tape, doused her with
gasoline, and set her on fire, causing her death.
Id. at 213-14.
February 19, 2008, after hearing the evidence summarized in
this Court's decision on direct appeal, including
Abdool's statement to police implicating himself in the
victim's death, testimony by others as to incriminatory
statements Abdool had made to them before and after the
victim's murder, and physical and DNA evidence tying
Abdool to the scene, Abdool's jury found him guilty of
first-degree murder. Id. at 212-14. The next day,
the penalty phase commenced, and as this Court explained in
its decision on direct appeal, "the State presented the
testimony of an expert medical witness who described for the
jury the type of intense pain and suffering Amelia
experienced before she died, " as well as victim impact
statements from three of the victim's family members.
Id. at 214.
the penalty phase, the defense presented testimony from
several of Abdool's relatives and friends, which
established that "Abdool grew up in a faith-based home
with his mother and stepfather, who loved and cared for him
and provided for his needs." Id. As this Court
stated in its opinion on direct appeal, "[i]t was clear
from their testimonies that Abdool is well-liked by friends
and acquaintances and much loved by his family."
addition, the defense presented expert testimony from Nancy
Cowardin, who "evaluated Abdool to determine his level
of education." Id. Ms. Cowardin testified that,
while "Abdool's IQ is in the normal range[, ] he has
attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, and a mild learning
disability and that he reads and does math at the level of a
ten- to eleven-year-old or someone who is in the sixth
grade." Id. at 215. Ms. Cowardin further
testified "that she could not make a connection between
her conclusions regarding Abdool's educational level and
the crime, but that kids with learning disabilities can make
social blunders and can 'misthink things through.'
addition to Ms. Cowardin, the defense presented expert
testimony from Dr. Karen Gold, a clinical and forensic
Dr. Gold testified that she met with Abdool on three
occasions and performed numerous tests and evaluations. In
relevant part, Dr. Gold testified that Abdool is immature, is
intellectually limited but not retarded, has attention
deficit disorder, is hyperactive, has impulse control issues
and obsessive compulsive disorder, is meticulous, and has
grandiose delusions, and that his emotional age is younger
than his actual age. Dr. Gold also stated that Abdool knew
right from wrong and that he was competent to stand trial.
rebuttal, the State presented the testimony of Dr. Daniel
Tressler, a forensic psychologist, "who stated that in
his opinion, Abdool did not have impulse control disorder[, ]
that there was no evidence that he was substantially impaired
at the time of his offense, " and that "Abdool knew
the difference between right and wrong." Id.
Dr. Tressler further "concluded that Abdool's
actions were not caused by any of his personality
the penalty phase presentation, the jury recommended death by
a vote of ten to two. Id. After conducting a
Spencer hearing, at which no additional evidence
was presented, the trial court followed the jury's
recommendation and sentenced Abdool to death, finding that
the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating
circumstances. Id. at 215-16.
direct appeal,  this Court affirmed Abdool's
conviction and death sentence. Id. at 212.
Thereafter, the United States Supreme Court denied
Abdool's petition for a writ of certiorari. Abdool v.
Florida, 132 S.Ct. 149 (2011).
2012, Abdool filed a motion for postconviction relief.
Following an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court denied
relief on all claims. Abdool appeals the circuit court's
denial of postconviction relief and also petitions this Court
for a writ of habeas corpus.
Ineffective Assistance During the Guilt Phase
first argues that his trial counsel was ineffective during
the guilt phase for (1) failing to file a motion to suppress
his statement to police; (2) failing to address the issues of
racism and religious prejudice during jury selection; and (3)
failing to consult and retain an independent arson
expert. For the reasons below, we affirm the
circuit court's denial of relief on these claims.
Motion to Suppress
first argues that his trial counsel was ineffective during
the guilt phase for failing to file a motion to suppress his
statement to police, in which Abdool admitted responsibility
for the victim's death, and which the State also used in
support of its argument that the CCP and HAC aggravators
applied to Abdool's case. Because Abdool has not
established that he was prejudiced by trial counsel's
alleged deficiency, we affirm the circuit court's denial
of this claim, without addressing whether trial counsel was
the United States Supreme Court's decision in
Strickland v.Washington, 466 U.S. 668
(1984), this Court has explained that, to prevail on an
ineffective assistance of ...