FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Volusia County, R.
Michael Hutcheson, Judge - Case No. 642008CF030969XXXAES
Pinkard, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, and Julissa R.
Fontán, Chelsea R. Shirley, and Kara Ottervanger,
Assistant Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Middle Region,
Temple Terrace, Florida, for Appellant
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Donna M.
Perry and Lisa-Marie Lerner, Assistant Attorneys General,
West Palm Beach, Florida, for Appellee
Blaine Matthews appeals the denial of the guilt phase claims
in his initial postconviction motion filed under Florida Rule
of Criminal Procedure 3.851. For the reasons explained below,
we affirm the postconviction court's denial of
Matthews' guilt phase claims.
was convicted of the first-degree premeditated and felony
murder of Kirk Zoeller, manslaughter of Donna Trujillo, and
burglary while armed. Matthews v. State, 124 So.3d
811, 814 (Fla. 2013). We set forth the following facts on
On the evening of February 20, 2008, Daytona Beach Police
Department officers responded to a call that a man was
outside an apartment building asking for help. When they
arrived on the scene, officers discovered Kirk Zoeller
sitting in front of an open apartment door, nonresponsive,
covered in blood, and gasping for air with blood pulsing from
his neck. The officers entered the apartment and found blood
covering the floor and walls. While clearing the apartment,
officers discovered Donna Trujillo's body on the bed in
the bedroom. The officer who found Trujillo testified that
she could not see her body from the main room of the
apartment, which consisted of an open kitchen and living
room, and that she stood in the bedroom doorway for 10 to 15
seconds before noticing the body because most of it was
covered with a pillow. Zoeller and Trujillo were pronounced
dead at the scene. According to the medical examiner, both
victims had been stabbed to death.
Later that evening, acting on a tip, officers went to the
home of Theresa Teague. Teague allowed the officers into her
home and consented to a search. Inside, officers saw bloody
sneakers and jeans in plain view on the floor and found
Matthews, dressed only in boxers and socks, hiding under a
pile of clothes in the bedroom. Officers obtained and
executed a search warrant for Teague's home and found a
bloody shirt in a clear plastic bag and Kirk Zoeller's
wallet together inside a different bag.
Matthews made a statement to police detectives outside of
Teague's house, which Matthews' trial counsel
admitted into evidence at trial. Matthews told detectives
that Kirk Zoeller killed Donna Trujillo and attacked him over
drugs. Once detectives informed Matthews that Zoeller was
dead, Matthews stated that he killed Zoeller in self-defense.
Matthews was indicted for the first-degree premeditated and
felony murders of Kirk Zoeller and Donna Trujillo and for
burglary while armed.
During the guilt phase, Justin Wagner, who sold drugs from
and was present in Trujillo's apartment when she and Kirk
Zoeller were killed, testified. Wagner explained that
Matthews, Zoeller, and Trujillo went into the bedroom of
Trujillo's apartment together. A few minutes later,
Wagner said that he heard everyone "freaking out"
and screaming and saw Matthews chase Zoeller out of the
bedroom with a knife. Wagner testified that Matthews was
clearly the aggressor. Before Wagner fled the apartment in
fear for his life, he testified that he saw Matthews on top
of Zoeller, repeatedly stabbing Zoeller and pulling him back
as Zoeller, who was begging for help, tried to flee the
apartment. Wagner also testified that he saw Matthews with a
big buck knife on the day Zoeller and Trujillo were killed
and that they had used Matthews' knife to cut crack
cocaine together earlier that day. Wagner further testified
that, after witnessing Matthews attack Zoeller, he fled to
Theresa Teague's home but hid outside when he heard
Matthews arrive. While hiding, Wagner said he saw Matthews
remove his shirt and put it in a clear plastic bag outside of
Theresa Teague also testified to incriminating statements
that Matthews made to her on the night Kirk Zoeller and Donna
Trujillo were killed. Teague said that, before the police
arrived at her home looking for Matthews, she and Matthews
went outside after they saw police and helicopter search
lights and Matthews said, "That's for me." When
Teague pressed him for details, she said that Matthews told
her that he "ran into a couple of people that probably
wish they had not run into him that evening" and that he
"just eliminated a couple of problems." In
addition, Teague testified that she had given Matthews a
knife about nine to twelve inches long days before Zoeller
and Trujillo were killed.
The crime scene investigator testified that he collected the
bloody sneakers, bloody jeans, bloody shirt, and Kirk
Zoeller's wallet from Theresa Teague's home and that
he found a traffic citation with Matthews' name on it
inside the pocket of the jeans. He also testified that he
took pictures of Matthews the day of his arrest and that
Matthews did not have any knife cuts or fresh injuries on his
Testimony linked the bloody clothes and shoes to Matthews.
The DNA analyst testified that "wearer" DNA on the
bloody shirt and sneakers matched Matthews' DNA and that
the blood on the shirt, jeans, and sneakers matched Kirk
Zoeller's. She also testified that swabs from four of
Matthews' fingers revealed blood that matched
Zoeller's and that one of the swabs also contained blood
that was a possible match to Donna Trujillo's. The police
officer who issued the traffic citation found in the pocket
of the bloody jeans identified Matthews as the person to whom
he had issued the citation.
The medical examiner testified that Kirk Zoeller had been
stabbed to death and that he had 24 stab wounds to the
head, neck, chest, and back and two defensive wounds on his
forearms. She testified that Zoeller's stab wounds
were up to six inches deep and that one wound was inflicted
with such force that the tip of the knife broke off in his
skull. The medical examiner also testified that Donna
Trujillo had been similarly stabbed to death and that she had
11 stab wounds to the head, neck, and chest. The medical
examiner testified that, in her experience, it was unusual
for stabbing victims to have stab wounds to their heads. She
also testified that both victims would have felt pain as they
were being stabbed and would have remained conscious for a
period of minutes before passing out due to blood loss and
then would have remained alive for an additional period of
minutes before their deaths.
Matthews testified that he acted in self-defense. He admitted
to doing drugs on the day Donna Trujillo and Kirk Zoeller
were killed and stated that he went to Trujillo's
apartment with Justin Wagner to trade cocaine for morphine
pills. However, Matthews testified that Zoeller and Trujillo
were arguing and went into the bedroom together while he
stayed in the living area of the apartment's main room
with Wagner. Matthews said it then got quiet and Zoeller came
out of the bedroom into the main room of the apartment and
started a fight with him over drugs. Matthews denied having a
knife and denied that Theresa Teague ever gave him a knife.
Matthews testified that Zoeller had the knife and that he
took it away from Zoeller while they were fighting. At some
point during their fight, Matthews said that he pinned
Zoeller against the wall and saw Donna Trujillo's body on
the bed. At that point, Matthews testified that he became
afraid for his life because he saw what Kirk Zoeller did to
Donna Trujillo. Then, Matthews testified that Zoeller kicked
him and he "blacked out," "snapped," and
started swinging at, but not stabbing, Zoeller. Matthews also
claimed that several of the photographs in evidence taken by
the crime scene investigator showed injuries he suffered
during his fight with Zoeller, including a cut on his
In addition, Matthews testified that he dropped the knife
inside the front door of Donna Trujillo's apartment and
fled to Theresa Teague's home, where he washed the blood
off of his body in her bathroom. On cross-examination,
Matthews acknowledged that he failed to include in his
statement to detectives that he was injured during his fight
with Kirk Zoeller and that he had "blacked out."
But he denied taking Kirk Zoeller's wallet and testified
that he did not know how his bloody shirt ended up in a bag
with Zoeller's wallet inside Teague's home. Matthews
also admitted to removing his clothes, hiding from police,
and telling Teague that the police and helicopter lights were
for him. However, he denied that he made the statements to
Teague about "run[ning] into a couple of people"
and "eliminat[ing] a couple of problems."
Id. at 812-14 (alterations in original) (emphasis
jury recommended the death penalty by a vote of 10-2, and a
Spencerhearing was held." Id. at
815. The trial court followed the jury's recommendation.
Id. On direct appeal, we affirmed Matthews'
conviction for first-degree murder and death sentence.
Id. at 812. Matthews' death sentence became final
in 2013. Matthews v. Florida, 134 S.Ct. 683 (2013).
filed an initial motion for postconviction relief pursuant to
Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851. Matthews amended
his postconviction motion several times, including once to
add a claim pursuant to Hurst. After holding two
evidentiary hearings on certain claims and summarily denying
other claims, the postconviction court granted Matthews a new
penalty phase pursuant to Hurst, but denied relief
as to his guilt phase claims.
now appeals the denial of relief as to his guilt phase
claims, arguing that the postconviction court erred in
denying nine claims in his initial postconviction motion,
including (A) a claim alleging newly discovered evidence, (B)
six claims alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, (C) a
claim alleging cumulative error, and (D) a claim alleging
that he may be incompetent at the time of execution. We
address each claim in turn.