final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Marianne L.
P. Hill and Jacqueline Rae Luker of Tassone, Dreicer, &
Hill, Jacksonville, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Amanda D. Stokes, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
was tried and convicted of second-degree murder for killing
his ex-wife. Appellant raises three issues on appeal,
which we discuss below as two related issues.
co-worker and friend of the victim testified that the victim
had confided in her that she did not want a sexual
relationship with Appellant. She testified that Appellant
would visit the victim's work, where the victim would
introduce him as her "roommate" or
"friend." The victim told Appellant she wanted to
move out of the Jacksonville home he provided to her, but the
victim was concerned about how Appellant would receive this
news. Appellant returned from Missouri to discuss the matter
with the victim. That evening, the witness received a text
from the victim indicating that everything was fine and that
Appellant had even agreed to keep paying rent on the home so
the victim could live there while he stayed in Missouri.
matter seemed resolved, but the victim did not show up for
work and the witness grew concerned. She went to the
victim's home to check on her welfare and saw the
victim's car but no sign that anyone was home. The
witness filed a missing person report.
law enforcement did a wellness check at the home, they found
no body or any sign of foul play. A detective found the
victim's cell phone and car keys in the home. Detectives
learned Appellant was the victim's ex-husband, and that
he had traveled to Missouri to visit his son and other
ex-wife. Detectives traveled to meet Appellant, arriving in
Missouri at around 3 a.m. They asked for Appellant's
consent to search the Jacksonville home, which he freely
was initially very cooperative with police; he drove his own
car to a local sheriff's office and gave a statement to
detectives. The detectives did not have probable cause to
arrest Appellant or to search his ex-wife's property in
Missouri. In his first interview, Appellant pretended he had
no idea where the victim might be. When asked if Appellant
thought law enforcement might find a body, he said "I
hope not." Appellant also told the detectives that he
urged one of his sons born during his marriage with the
victim to try to reach the victim by text. Appellant himself
texted the victim while driving back to Missouri on the night
of her disappearance.
the interview with police, Appellant claimed to suffer from
short-term memory loss due to early-onset Alzheimer's
disease. The testifying detective saw no sign of this
condition and Appellant had no difficulty with dates and
described his post-divorce relationship with the victim as
amicable, telling detectives how happy the victim was with
him and their housing arrangement. He claimed the victim
would introduce him to her coworkers as her
"sweetie." Appellant told the detectives that the
victim's promiscuity was a reason for their divorce, and
that the victim had been using an online dating service and
seeing other men before her disappearance. Appellant said he
had called one man who lived in Michigan and told him to stop
communicating with the victim. He told detectives that
shortly before the victim's disappearance, she went on a
date and engaged in sexual activities with a man named
Hunter. Detectives later confirmed that the victim had in
fact spent time with a man by that name.
Appellant also made false statements about men in the
victim's life. He told detectives that the last time he
saw the victim, she was leaving with a "biker," a
scenario he later admitted was false.
police returned to search the victim's home, a cadaver
dog alerted at the deceased's bed, although the bed
appeared undisturbed. A detective testified that police found
no evidence of blood or foul play on the bed or in the home.
Police investigated the trailer park's trash-disposal
arrangement, learning that tenants had to pay a fee and get
help from a park employee to access locked garbage dumpsters.
Appellant had not paid any fee and had not used the dumpsters
during the relevant time-frame.
ex-wife from Missouri testified that Appellant had reunited
with the victim about a year before the victim's death.
She stated that Appellant often complained that the victim
treated him poorly that year and never appreciated all he did
for her. The witness testified that she urged Appellant to
discontinue the relationship.
ex-wife testified that Appellant promised to help their son
attend a graduation event in Missouri shortly before the date
of the victim's disappearance. The night before the
graduation event, however, Appellant received a text from the
victim saying she was moving out of the Jacksonville home.
Appellant stated he had to return to Jacksonville, departing
the very next morning. Although his ex-wife assumed Appellant
would stay in Jacksonville for several weeks, he surprised
her by returning quickly to Missouri. She testified that he
appeared calm and collected when he returned, ...