FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Marion County, Willard
Rudenstine, of Law Office of Sonya Rudenstine, Gainesville,
Stephen G. Foresta, Paul F. Rugani, Leena Charlton and
Katherine Kinsey, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP,
New York, NY, and Michael Ufferman, of Michael Ufferman Law
Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Kellie A. Nielan,
Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.
ROBERSON, E.C., ASSOCIATE JUDGE.
Love Ray was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated
child abuse, and child neglect related to the death of her
two-year-old daughter. Her conviction was affirmed on direct
appeal. Ray v. State, 149 So.3d 36 (Fla. 5th DCA
2014). We now affirm the denial of her Florida Rule of
Criminal Procedure 3.850 motion for postconviction relief
entered after an evidentiary hearing.
night in question, Ray was home alone with her six children.
Around 9:00 p.m., she called her father. Sensing something
was amiss, he and Ray's mother went to the Ray household.
He found Ray holding her two-year-old daughter in the
kitchen. Ray's five-year-old son secretly called 9-1-1
and left the line open, prompting an officer to respond to
the Ray household. The family declined the offer to call an
ambulance. Tragically, several hours later, Ray's
daughter stopped breathing and was rushed by ambulance to the
hospital. By that time, she was brain dead and had noticeable
bruises on her back, buttocks, and thighs.
State's theory was that Ray's daughter died from
intentionally inflicted head injuries. Ray was represented by
three attorneys with over 40 years of experience. Ray's
defense was that her daughter fell in the kitchen after her
bath, while Ray was giving her other children a bath.
rule 3.850 motion, Ray argues that she received ineffective
assistance of counsel because the defense did not engage in a
highly scientific, medicolegal, battle of the experts. Ray
contends, in hindsight, that there were several experts that
potentially could have offered opinions contrary to the
State's medical examiner, Dr. Lavezzi. We deny the
majority of Appellant's arguments without discussion but
write, however, to address the concerns raised in the
Dr. Lavezzi's trial testimony, the jury was presented
with evidence that there were thirteen subgaleal hemorrhages
present on the two-year-old's head and that each
hemorrhage came from a separate impact. The defense
challenged Dr. Lavezzi on the aging process of those bruises,
eliciting that the bruises could have been from three or four
days prior. Ray's expert, Dr. Willey, testified that
bruises do not always involve trauma and could develop from
other medical conditions. Dr. Willey conceded that Dr.
Lavezzi's opinion regarding 13 separate impacts was not
consistent with a single fall. Instead, Dr. Willey suggested
that the bruises were consistent with other medical
conditions or an impact, that the bruises could have happened
at different times, and that it was difficult to determine
the age of the bruises.
postconviction hearing, Dr. Willey disagreed with Dr.
Lavezzi's trial testimony because he did not
"believe that there are thirteen discrete things that
indicate thirteen distinct contact injuries." When asked
how he would have responded to Dr. Lavezzi's testimony
about the victim's head trauma, Dr. Willey stated:
Well, the premise of the question is faulty because the
hemorrhages that are described are not necessarily all due to
trauma, in fact, it's reasonable to assume most of them
are not, they're very small or trivial. The number is
overwhelming, there are 20 with various subsets, three to
four each. I'm sure that's a substantial number,
which is misleading because they're not that many
injuries, in fact, most of them are probably not due to
injury, they're hemorrhages, which are described. And
there are other explanations for hemorrhages than traumatic
fact, Dr. Willey was asked to respond to Dr. Lavezzi's
opinions during the trial itself. Specifically, he was asked:
Q. And were you aware of Dr. Lavezzi's opinionꟷand
by that, I mean her conclusions ...