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Mackey v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

August 14, 2019

Jeffrey Alan Mackey, 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 Duval County. Marianne L. Aho, Judge.

          James P. Hill and Jacqueline Rae Luker of Tassone, Dreicer, & Hill, Jacksonville, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Amanda D. Stokes, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          B.L. Thomas, J.

         Appellant was tried and convicted of second-degree murder for killing his ex-wife.[1] Appellant raises three issues on appeal, which we discuss below as two related issues.


         A 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.

         The 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.

         When 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 gave.

         Appellant 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.

         During 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 timelines.

         Appellant 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.

         But 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.

         When 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.

         Appellant's 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.

         The 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, ...

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