FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Volusia County,
Terence R. Perkins, Judge - Case No. 641991CF006795XXXAES
Jeffrey D. Deen, Regional Counsel, Junior Barrett and Michael
P. Reiter, Assistant Regional Counsel, Office of Criminal
Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, Fifth District, Ocala,
Florida, for Appellant
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Doris
Meacham, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, Florida,
Guzman appeals his convictions for armed robbery and
first-degree murder and sentence of death. For the following
reasons, we affirm the convictions but vacate his death
sentence and remand for a new penalty phase.
September 1992, James Guzman was convicted for the August 10,
1991, armed robbery and first-degree murder of David Colvin
and was subsequently sentenced to death for the murder
conviction. On direct appeal, we reversed Guzman's
convictions and remanded the case for a new trial, holding
that Guzman's right to conflict-free counsel was violated
because his public defender had a conflict of interest.
Guzman v. State, 644 So.2d 996, 999 (Fla. 1994).
retrial, Guzman was again found guilty of first-degree murder
and armed robbery and sentenced to death. Guzman v.
State, 721 So.2d 1155, 1156 (Fla. 1998). On direct
appeal, we affirmed Guzman's convictions and death
sentence. Id. at 1162. Post-conviction relief was
denied, and we affirmed. Guzman v. State, 941 So.2d
1045, 1052 (Fla. 2006).
Guzman filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, and the
court ruled in Guzman's favor based on a
Giglio and Brady violation. Guzman v.
Sec'y, Dep't of Corrs., 698 F.Supp.2d 1317,
1329-35 (M.D. Fla. 2010). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Eleventh Circuit affirmed and remanded Guzman's case for
a new trial. Guzman v. Sec'y, Dep't of
Corrs., 663 F.3d 1336, 1339 (11th Cir. 2011). Guzman now
appeals his convictions and sentence of death following his
third trial on these charges.
evidence at Guzman's third trial established that on
August 12, 1991, police were dispatched to a motel after a
motel employee discovered David Colvin's body lying face
down on a bed in his motel room, covered in blood. There was
blood spatter across the bed, pillows, and walls, and a
fragment of Colvin's skull was located by the foot of the
bed. The police also found a twisted and bent samurai sword
in the room. However, there was no blood or fingerprints
found on the sword. Colvin's blood alcohol level was .34
at the time of his death.
former testimony of Dr. Terrance Steiner, an interim medical
examiner for Volusia County, was introduced into evidence
because he was deceased at the time of the retrial. Dr.
Steiner performed an autopsy, which revealed nineteen stab
and incised wounds to Colvin's body. Colvin received
eleven stab wounds to his face and scalp, four to his back,
three to his chest, and one defensive wound to his left
forefinger. One stab wound to Colvin's left chest was
fatal because it cut his pulmonary artery and punctured his
left lung, and Colvin would have lost consciousness anywhere
from twenty seconds to two minutes after receiving this stab
wound. The other stab wounds to his head also contributed to
his death. Colvin's cause of death was blood loss and
shock due to the multiple stab and incised wounds. Dr.
Steiner determined that Colvin died on the evening of
Saturday, August 10, 1991. Additionally, Dr. Steiner stated
that the sword found at the scene was consistent with the
wounds Colvin received.
Sylvester, the lead homicide detective on the case, testified
that she responded to the crime scene on the morning of
August 12, 1991. During the initial investigation, Detective
Sylvester interviewed Martha Cronin and James Guzman, who
lived together in a room at the motel. Guzman and Cronin
denied knowing anything about Colvin's murder. However,
Officer Robert Walker testified that several months later, in
November 1991, when he arrested Cronin for violating her
probation, Cronin became upset and said she had knowledge
about a man who was killed in a motel room with a sword.
Cronin also stated that she knew the location of a ring that
had been stolen from the victim.
trial, Cronin testified that in August 1991 she met Guzman,
and he moved into her motel room. They formed a business
relationship where he protected her while she engaged in
prostitution, and in return, Cronin paid for Guzman's
room, food, and drugs. This eventually turned into a romantic
relationship. At some point after Guzman moved in, Guzman,
while fiddling with his survival knife, told her that it
would be easy to rob Colvin because he was old, drunk, and
known to carry money. At the same time, Guzman also said,
"A dead witness can't talk."
morning of Saturday, August 10, 1991, Guzman told Cronin that
he was taking Colvin to run some errands. Upon return, Guzman
showed her that he had Colvin's keys. Cronin then left
the motel room to engage in prostitution. When she returned
around 2:30 or 3 p.m., Guzman was not in the room. A short
time later, Guzman returned to the room, carrying a garbage
bag with rags or towels in it and went straight to the
bathroom. Then, Guzman left the room with the bag and
returned a minute later without it. Guzman sat down and told
Cronin, "I did it." She asked him what he did, and
he clarified, "I killed David." He said he stabbed
Colvin with a samurai sword and showed Cronin a ring and
money. Cronin examined the ring and saw that it appeared to
have blood on it. She testified that it was the same ring
that Colvin wore. Cronin told Guzman to get rid of the ring,
and he left the room, taking the ring with him. Guzman
returned later without the ring and said that he gave the
ring to a drug dealer known as "Paco" in exchange
for money and drugs.
Walker testified that he found "Paco, " whose real
name is Leroy Gadson, Jr., and recovered the gold ring. At
trial, Gadson testified that in 1991 he was a drug dealer and
occasionally sold Guzman drugs. Moreover, in August 1991,
Guzman went to him and asked to trade the gold ring for
former testimony of Paul Rodgers, Guzman's former
cellmate, was presented because he was deceased at the time
of the retrial. Rodgers testified that Guzman initially told
him that he thought a man named Curtis Wallace killed Colvin.
Then, Guzman changed his story and said that he killed
Colvin. Guzman explained that he used Colvin's key to
enter his motel room in order to rob him. At first, Colvin
was asleep and Guzman rummaged through Colvin's drawers.
But Colvin woke up, and Guzman used a samurai sword that was
hanging on the wall to kill Colvin while Colvin was sitting
on the bed. Guzman was unsure about the exact number of times
he stabbed Colvin, but estimated that it was ten or eleven
times. Afterwards, Guzman cleaned the room, took Colvin's
ring and $600, and went back to his motel room. Later, Guzman
traded the ring for drugs.
Harris, a gas station attendant, testified that on August 10,
1991, at about 10 a.m., Colvin came into the gas station with
a man who was wearing a black vest and a black leather
chauffeur's cap. Additionally, Margaret Post, a waitress,
testified that on the morning of August 10, 1991, Colvin and
Guzman came into the IHOP where she worked, and she waited on
them. Guzman was wearing a black leather hat, black leather
vest, and a pair of jeans. She noticed that Colvin was
wearing his gold ring, and she described Colvin as very
Parker, a crime-lab analyst, responded to the motel to
perform bloodstain-pattern analysis. Parker testified that
based on his observation and analysis, Colvin was on the bed
at the time of his murder. Parker explained that the
bloodstains high on the wall were created from a forceful
impact with the victim. He determined that the sword found at
the scene was consistent with the blood spatter evidence.
Also, Kelly May, a senior crime-laboratory analyst, testified
that Guzman's fingerprints were on Colvin's vehicle
and the telephone inside Colvin's room.
Guzman's case-in-chief, he presented testimony from
Carmelo Garcia, a former inmate who was incarcerated with
Guzman. At some point during their incarceration, Garcia told
Guzman that a prostitute confided in him that she lied to the
police, which led to a man named "Chico, "
Guzman's nickname, being falsely imprisoned. Later,
Garcia found out that this prostitute was Martha Cronin.
also testified in his own defense. He stated that on the
morning of August 10, 1991, he drove Colvin around town,
making stops at a gas station, a local bar, and an IHOP.
While they were at IHOP, Curtis Wallace stopped by their
table and asked Colvin about money Colvin owed him. Colvin
stated he would pay Wallace after they got back to the motel.
Colvin and Guzman returned to the motel sometime before noon,
and they each went to their own room. Guzman claims that was
the last time he saw Colvin.
Guzman went out with Cronin on the street, where she engaged
in prostitution. Cronin gave Guzman a signal to wait on the
street for her, but after she did not return within 20 to 30
minutes, he decided to go back to the motel room. Cronin
returned to the motel room around 1 or 2 p.m. with Wallace.
Cronin was wearing a ring that she got from Wallace, and she
asked Guzman to take the ring to Gadson to sell it for drugs.