211 So.3d 930 (Fla. 2017), SC14-1514, Truehill v. State

Docket NºSC14-1514
Citation211 So.3d 930, 42 Fla.L.Weekly S 223
Opinion JudgePER CURIAM.
Party NameQUENTIN MARCUS TRUEHILL, Appellant, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee
AttorneyJames S. Purdy, Public Defender, and George Donald Edward Burden and John M. Selden, Assistant Public Defenders, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Appellant. Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida; and Stacey E. Kircher, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Bea...
Judge PanelLABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, and LEWIS, JJ., concur. PARIENTE, J., concurs with an opinion. CANADY, J., concurs in the conviction and concurs in result as to the sentence. POLSTON, J., concurs in result. QUINCE, J., concurs as to the conviction and dissents as to the sentence, with an opinion. LA...
Case DateFebruary 23, 2017
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida

Page 930

211 So.3d 930 (Fla. 2017)

42 Fla.L.Weekly S 223

QUENTIN MARCUS TRUEHILL, Appellant,

v.

STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee

No. SC14-1514

Supreme Court of Florida

February 23, 2017

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An Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for St. Johns County, Raul Antonio Zambrano, Judge -- Case No. 552010CF000763XXAXM.

James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and George Donald Edward Burden and John M. Selden, Assistant Public Defenders, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Appellant.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida; and Stacey E. Kircher, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, Florida, for Appellee.

LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, and LEWIS, JJ., concur. PARIENTE, J., concurs with an opinion. CANADY, J., concurs in the conviction and concurs in result as to the sentence. POLSTON, J., concurs in result. QUINCE, J., concurs as to the conviction and dissents as to the sentence, with an opinion. LAWSON, J., did not participate.

OPINION

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PER CURIAM.

Truehill appeals his convictions for the murder and kidnapping of Vincent Binder and his death sentence. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons that follow, we affirm Truehill's convictions and the death sentence.

FACTS

Quentin Truehill, who was twenty-two years old at the time, was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Vincent Binder, who was twenty-nine years old. Truehill's crime spree began on the evening of March 30, 2010, at the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office in Mansura, Louisiana, when Truehill and two other cellmates, Kentrell F. Johnson1 and Peter Hughes,2 held the holding-cell officer hostage. Truehill then attacked the booking officer with a shank, after which the three cellmates fled the jail. Later that day, the men stole a black Chevy extended-cab truck, which contained tools, including saws and knives. The truck was eventually found in Miami, and a search of the truck led to the murder weapon and other relevant physical evidence.

Truehill, Johnson, and Hughes committed a series of crimes between Louisiana and Florida as they made their way to Miami, which were all linked to the actual murder. In Broussard, Louisiana, in the parking lot of a shopping center, the men stole a purse from LeAnn Williams as she exited her car. They then used Williams' credit cards from her purse to fund their journey until her credit card company listed the card as stolen. A video from the shopping center showed images of the black Chevy truck backing into a parking spot near the incident. Williams' identification card was later found in the stolen truck.

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On the afternoon of April 1, 2010, in Pensacola, Florida, the three men attacked Brenda Brown at an apartment complex. One of the men had initially approached her, asking for some water, and the three men followed her into an apartment that she was cleaning. After Brown filled a blue plastic cup with water, two of the men brandished large knives and demanded her money. One man displayed a large filleting knife, while the other man's knife was twelve inches in length with a brown wooden handle and did not have a point at the end. Brown gave them her money, at which point they taped her mouth with electrical tape, taped her hands behind her back, and took her to a back bedroom, where they hit her on her head with the knives. Brown put her hands up to protect herself and then pretended to be dead. Based on the injuries she sustained in the attack, she had five of her fingers amputated; she also had a skull fracture and two lacerations on her head. Brown identified Truehill as the person who approached her with the knife. After Truehill was apprehended, police found a pair of jeans in the codefendants' motel room with both Binder's and Brown's DNA on it, establishing that the person who battered Brown was also involved in Binder's death.

The codefendants continued east, arriving in Tallahassee that same day. At 10:30 p.m. on April 1, Johnson approached Mario Rios, who was visiting a friend at an apartment complex in Tallahassee, to ask Rios if the mall was still open. The question seemed odd since it was so late, and Rios began backing away from Johnson. Truehill, at that point, jumped out and grabbed Rios by his shirt with a twisting motion, demanding all of Rios's possessions as Truehill displayed a large knife. Rios identified the knife in evidence as being consistent with the knife that he saw. Rios pushed Truehill back and ran to his friend's apartment. He called the police immediately and gave law enforcement the shirt that Truehill grabbed. DNA testing on the portion of the shirt that Truehill grabbed was consistent with Truehill's DNA.

Later that same evening, around 11 p.m., Cris Pavlish and her friend were walking in a parking lot toward her car when a black four-door truck quickly approached and stopped in a manner that blocked them. The men in the truck asked them for directions, and Pavlish and her friend attempted to answer their questions. At that point, Truehill demanded her purse, swinging a machete with a wooden handle and a thin, gold band across it. Truehill initially attempted to grab Pavlish, but she was able to break free from his grip. During the scuffle, Pavlish's purse fell, so Truehill put the knife down to grab her purse. Pavlish used the opportunity to run away, and her friend followed shortly. Some of the personal items that Pavlish had in her purse were found in the stolen black truck.

That same evening, on April 1, Beth Frady, her husband David, and Rebecca Edwards met Vincent Binder for dinner in Tallahassee and then ended their evening at the Fradys' home, where Edwards and Beth Frady worked on a paper for school. Binder had his bankcard with him earlier that evening when he made a purchase at a gas station. Around midnight on April 2, Binder left the study group to walk home since he lived only about a mile away. The next day, Beth Frady texted Binder numerous times, attempted to call him, and stopped by his house, but he never responded to any of the attempts. On April 8, she reported Binder as missing to the police, and during their investigation, the police learned that Binder's bankcard was used for two transactions that occurred at 12:15 and 12:21 a.m. at the Halftime Keg store in Tallahassee on April 2--fifteen minutes after Binder had left his friends'

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home. A video was obtained from the store, which showed Truehill using the victim's bankcard without the victim's presence. Additional transactions occurred with his bankcard in Madison County, Jacksonville, Fort Pierce, Daytona Beach, Opa Locka, and Miami, at which point the bankcard was blocked based on suspicious activity.

Shirley Marcus met Truehill, Johnson, and Hughes in Miami that month when the three men and her friend, Tony, picked her up in the four-door black truck. Marcus, who partied with the group at a hotel, recalled that the three men " had money." The next day, Marcus joined the codefendants to eat at Burger King and visit the beach. While at the beach, however, one of the men lost the keys to the truck. Marcus and Johnson left to retrieve Marcus's vehicle--a red Ford Sport Trac. When they returned to pick up Truehill and Hughes, Truehill and Hughes had Marcus's tennis shoes, even though she had left them in the locked, black truck. In addition, the men carried a large, black bag. Police eventually recovered the black truck at the beach in Miami with a shattered left rear window.

Shortly after this, the men had run out of money, so Marcus took the three men to her house. Marcus drove Truehill, Johnson, and Hughes to a local Wachovia bank, where they attempted to withdraw $1,300 from Binder's bank account, using Binder's bankcard and driver's license that Truehill had with him. The bank teller became suspicious because, while the driver's license submitted belonged to a white male, the driver was a black female, and all of the passengers were black males. After the teller took a long time in processing the request, Johnson told Marcus to drive away. A bank security guard was able to write down Marcus's tag number before the vehicle disappeared, and a surveillance camera captured images of the vehicle.

Meanwhile, Peter Milian of the Miami-Dade Police Department noticed a black truck in a parking lot with a shattered left rear window and a missing license tag. After learning the vehicle was reported as stolen from Louisiana and searching the vehicle, he found a bloody knife underneath the front passenger seat. Subsequent testing of the knife revealed that eight of the bloodstains contained a complete DNA profile that matched Binder, and Johnson was found to be a minor contributor. Additional items were later found in the truck, including Williams' Louisiana identification card, ATM receipts, Pavlish's documents, and a green washcloth with blood on it. DNA testing of the washcloth revealed a blood stain that contained a complete DNA profile that matched Binder, and a mixed DNA profile that was consistent with Binder and Johnson.

On April 12, 2010, Marcus, Truehill, and Hughes were arrested at a Budget Inn Motel, and Johnson was arrested a block away shortly after. In the motel room shared by Marcus, Truehill, Hughes, and Johnson, police found significant incriminating evidence, including Binder's wallet, a black, heavy-duty garbage bag containing clothing, a metal handsaw, a machete, and a pair of black Levi's jeans. DNA testing on the machete resulted in a partial DNA profile that matched Truehill. DNA testing on the black Levi's...

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