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Cormier v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

August 3, 2018

William J. Cormier III, Appellant,
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Escambia County. W. Joel Boles, Judge.

          William J. Cormier III, pro se, Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          ROBERTS, J.

         The Appellant, William J. Cormier III, appeals from an order denying his postconviction motion brought pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

         The Appellant was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder. The evidence presented at trial reflected that the victim was last heard from on August 27, 2012, when he called a family friend, Patricia Burke, from an unfamiliar number and made plans to meet her at 1:45 p.m. When she arrived at his home at 1:15 p.m., the Appellant was leaving the house. The Appellant told her that the victim was not home, his plans had changed, and he had been delayed. Ms. Burke expressed concern for the victim because he had been in poor health when she spoke to him. After the Appellant left, Ms. Burke waited at the home, hoping to see the victim. The Appellant called her less than ten minutes later from the same number the victim had called from that morning. He told her that he had spoken to the victim, who would not be home for hours, and Ms. Burke should go home.

         The evidence reflected that the victim had a collection of Magic: the Gathering cards worth between $50, 000 and $100, 000. Some of these cards were signed by the creator of the game. In particular, he had a Black Lotus card, which was described as "the number one card you can purchase," as it was an out-of-print card with a low print run. He also had rare cards such as a Time Walk and a Mox Ruby.

         The weekend after the victim's disappearance, the Appellant attended a sci-fi convention in Atlanta, where he approached a pair of vendors with a valuable Magic: the Gathering card collection. The Appellant sold them some of the cards for $5, 844. His twin brother, Christopher Cormier, was present during the negotiations, but did not participate or receive any money. After the convention, the Appellant, who did not own a car and had been driving a rental car provided by his father, paid cash for a Chrysler Sebring.

         On September 3, 2012, the Appellant rented a U-Haul and storage unit in Florida and started emptying the victim's home. He hired a yard service to work on the yard and haul some items from inside the house to a landfill. He told the owner of the yard service that he owned the house and his renters had moved out. When a curious neighbor stopped by, he told the neighbor that the victim was moving in with him. While the Appellant was at the house, his brother, Christopher, injured his arm trying to push open a window, and the Appellant took him to the hospital. The Appellant returned without his brother and continued moving the victim's belongings. The Appellant paid the yard crew and arranged for people to clean the house. He also paid the cleaning crew.

         On September 6, 2012, the Appellant emptied the storage unit. The Appellant's brother was present at the time, but unable to help due to his injured arm. The Appellant did not tell the business that he was emptying the unit. It was discovered empty and unlocked during a walkthrough of the premises.

         On September 7, 2012, Ms. Burke returned to the victim's house. There were no cars in his driveway, and the house was empty except for an old TV. The victim's father reported his son missing to law enforcement.

         Subsequently, the Appellant arrived at his father's house in Georgia, driving a U-Haul. When he opened the back of the truck, his father noticed a horrible smell, like there was a dead animal inside. The Appellant told his father that a dog had died in Pensacola. Subsequently, the Appellant's father saw a number of Magic: the Gathering cards in the house. He also noticed his nephew digging in the backyard.

         On September 8th or 9th, the Appellant helped make a barbecue pit in his father's backyard. He bought two-by-fours, stakes, cement buckets, and a mixer for the project. He built the frame and helped pour the concrete. He testified at trial that he had to do most of the work because his brother had hurt his hand.

         On September 10, 2012, the Appellant met the two vendors from the sci-fi convention at a restaurant in Tennessee. They were meant to meet in Kentucky, but the Appellant's car broke down, so the location was changed. The Appellant and the vendors spent two to three hours haggling over Magic: the Gathering cards while Christopher watched and left periodically to smoke. The vendors paid $12, 021 in cash for the cards, ...

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