FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Duval County, Angela
Cox, Judge - Case No. 161991CF002899AXXXMA
Vincent Viggiano, Jr., Capital Collateral Regional Counsel,
Mark S. Gruber, Julie A. Morley, and Margaret S. Russell,
Assistant Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Middle Region,
Temple Terrace, Florida, for Appellant
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Lisa A. Hopkins, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida for Appellee
Earl Sweet appeals the postconviction court's order
denying his sixth successive motion for postconviction relief
based on a claim of newly discovered evidence after an
evidentiary hearing. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the
postconviction court's order denying Sweet relief.
1991, a jury convicted Sweet of one count of first-degree
murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder, and
one count of burglary. Sweet v. State (Sweet
I), 624 So.2d 1138, 1139 (Fla. 1993). On direct appeal,
this Court explained the details underlying Sweet's
On June 6, 1990, Marcine Cofer was attacked in her apartment
and beaten and robbed by three men. She could identify two of
the men by their street names. On June 26, 1990, she was
taken by Detective Robinson to the police station to look at
pictures to attempt to identify the third assailant. When
Robinson dropped Cofer off at her apartment, William Sweet
was standing nearby and saw her leave the detective. Unknown
to Cofer, Sweet had previously implicated himself in the
robbery by telling a friend that he had committed the robbery
or that he had ordered it done. Cofer asked her next-door
neighbor, Mattie Bryant, to allow the neighbor's
daughters, Felicia, thirteen, and Sharon, twelve, to stay
with Cofer in her apartment that night. Mattie agreed, and
the children went over to Cofer's apartment around 8 p.m.
At approximately 1 a.m. that evening, Sharon was watching
television in the living room of Cofer's apartment when
she heard a loud kick on the apartment door. She reported
this to Cofer, who was sleeping in the bedroom, but because
the person had apparently left, Cofer told Sharon not to
worry about it and went back to sleep. Shortly thereafter,
Sharon saw someone pulling on the living room screen. She
awakened Cofer. The two then went to the door of the
apartment, looked out the peephole, and saw Sweet standing
outside. Sweet called Cofer by name and ordered her to open
At Cofer's direction, Felicia pounded on the bathroom
wall to get Mattie's attention in the apartment next
door, and a few minutes later Mattie came over. The four then
lined up at the door, with Cofer standing in the back of the
group. When they opened the door to leave, Sweet got his foot
in the door and forced his way into the apartment.
Sweet's face was partially covered by a pair of pants. He
first shot Cofer and then shot the other three people,
killing Felicia. Six shots were fired. Cofer, Mattie, and
Sharon were shot in the thigh, ankle and thigh, and buttock,
respectively, and Felicia was shot in the hand and in the
the jury's recommendation for death by a vote of ten to
two, the trial court sentenced Sweet to death. Id.
In imposing the death sentence, the trial court found the
following aggravating factors:
(1) Sweet had previously been convicted of several violent
felonies, including armed robbery, possession of a firearm by
a convicted felon, riot, resisting arrest with violence, and
the contemporaneous attempted murders and burglary; (2) the
murder was committed to avoid arrest; (3) the murder was
committed during a burglary; and (4) the murder was cold,
calculated, and premeditated.
Id. at 1142. "The court found no statutory
mitigating circumstances, but found as nonstatutory
mitigation that Sweet lacked true parental guidance as a
teenager. This mitigation was given slight weight."
direct appeal, this Court affirmed Sweet's convictions
and sentence of death. Id. at 1143. Sweet's
sentence of death became final in 1994. Sweet v.
Florida, 510 U.S. 1170 (1994).
Initial Postconviction Motion
1995, Sweet filed his initial motion for postconviction
relief, raising twenty-eight claims. Sweet v. State
(Sweet II), 810 So.2d 854, 857 n.4 (Fla.
2002). The postconviction court granted an
evidentiary hearing on four of Sweet's claims.
Id. at 858.
evidentiary hearing, Sweet presented the testimony of Anthony
McNish, a witness who was subpoenaed to testify at
Sweet's trial, but did not appear. Id. at 861.
McNish's testimony at the evidentiary hearing was
summarized by this Court as follows:
McNish stated that the three men at Cofer's door walked
differently than Sweet, and that the three men each had a
different skin complexion and physical build than Sweet. . .
The State established on cross-examination that McNish had
been convicted of seven felonies, including crimes involving
dishonesty. Further, although he stated at a pretrial
deposition that he could not see any of the three mens'
faces at Cofer's door, that it was dark, and that he had
bad eyesight, he explained at the evidentiary hearing that,
after thinking about it, he had a good idea of what the three
men looked like. However, he repeated at the evidentiary
hearing that he had bad eyesight and never got a good look at
the three men. Moreover, McNish never saw any of the men
wearing a mask, and he did not actually see the men knock on
the door. Finally, McNish stated at the evidentiary hearing
that he could identify one of the men that was at Cofer's
door now, but he refused to reveal the name of the person. He
did state that the man is not Sweet.
Id. at 861-62. Also at the evidentiary hearing on
his initial postconviction motion, Sweet presented the
testimony of Solomon Hansbury, a witness at Sweet's trial
who testified "that Sweet confessed to the murder while
they were in jail together." Id. at 867. At the