Reynolds v. State, SC10-1602

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
PartiesMICHAEL GORDON REYNOLDS, Appellant, v. STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee. MICHAEL GORDON REYNOLDS, Petitioner, v. KENNETH S. TUCKER, etc., Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. SC11-693,No. SC10-1602,SC10-1602,SC11-693
Decision Date27 September 2012


KENNETH S. TUCKER, etc., Respondent.

No. SC10-1602
No. SC11-693

Supreme Court of Florida

September 27, 2012


Michael Gordon Reynolds appeals an order of the circuit court denying his motion to vacate his convictions of first-degree murder and sentences of death under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851 and petitions this Court for a writ

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of habeas corpus. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), (9), Fla. Const. For the reasons provided below, we affirm the denial of the rule 3.851 motion and deny his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.


Trial Court Proceedings

A jury convicted Michael Gordon Reynolds of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Robin Razor and her eleven-year-old daughter, Christina Razor; second-degree murder in the death of Danny Ray Privett, Christina's father; and burglary of a dwelling during which a battery upon Robin or Christina or both was committed while Reynolds was armed with a weapon. See Reynolds v. State, 934 So. 2d 1128, 1137 (Fla. 2006). The jury recommended death by a unanimous vote for the murders of Robin and Christina Razor. See id. at 1138. The trial court sentenced Reynolds to life in prison for the murder of Privett and the burglary conviction, and sentences of death for the murders of the Razors, all to run concurrently. See id. In our opinion that affirmed the imposition of the death penalty, this Court detailed the following facts with regard to the underlying crimes:

The circumstances surrounding the crimes involved in this matter and the nature of the physical evidence cause the facts established at trial to be crucial in our analysis of this case. Specifically, we note that physical evidence produced at trial placing Reynolds at the scene of the crimes, inconsistencies in Reynolds' statements to the authorities regarding injuries he sustained on the

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evening the murders were committed, and evidence tending to establish his involvement in the murders are all important to our decision to affirm Reynolds' convictions and sentence. . . . On July 22, 1998, the bodies of the victims were found on the property located at 1628 Clekk Circle in Geneva, Florida. Danny's body was found outside near a large pine tree, and the bodies of Robin and Christina were found inside a trailer in which the victims were living.
. . .
The evidence established that on July 22, 1998, Shirley Razor, the mother of victim Robin Razor, traveled to the crime scene to deliver items Danny used in the work he was doing on trailers at that location. Upon arriving at the property, Shirley noticed Danny lying on the ground outside. Shirley, being accustomed to seeing Danny drunk and passed out, proceeded to her separate trailer on the property and ate her lunch. After finishing her lunch, Shirley walked over to the trailer in which Danny and Robin were living when she noticed that Danny had a "hole in his head." After discovering that Danny was dead, Shirley ran to a neighbor's residence and called the authorities. Subsequent to the arrival of the fire department personnel, Shirley went to her daughter's trailer and upon looking inside found that her daughter, Robin, and her granddaughter, Christina, were inside and apparently dead.
At trial, a medical examiner, Dr. Sara Hyatt Irrgang, testified that the deaths had occurred at least eight hours, but probably more than twelve hours prior to her arrival at the crime scene, placing the time of death between nine p.m. on July 21 and seven a.m. on the morning of July 22. The evidence demonstrated that Danny Ray Privett was found lying outside beneath a large pine tree on his side with his face down, surrounded by bloody pieces of concrete block and broken pieces of glass. Danny's jeans were partially unzipped suggesting that he had been in the process of urinating when the attack occurred. The autopsy of Danny Ray Privett revealed that he suffered a large depressed skull fracture with additional injuries to the head area. The wounds appeared to have been caused by three or more separate blows, with the injuries indicating that the assailant had been behind the victim. There was no indication of any defensive wounds on Danny, and examination of his major skull injury revealed that the

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injury was likely caused by a partially broken cinder block, based on fragments found within the wound. The medical examiner was unable to determine the order in which the injuries had been inflicted upon him. The cause of death for Danny was determined to be primarily due to blunt force trauma to the head with the large depressed skull fracture probably being the fatal blow. If this blow had been inflicted first, the medical examiner opined that the victim would have lost consciousness within a second to a minute or two.
Robin and Christina Razor were found dead inside the living room portion of the camper trailer being used as living quarters. Robin was found lying on the floor, face up. Christina was found nearby sitting on the couch and leaning to her left. The living room area was in disarray and a large amount of blood was scattered throughout this area of the trailer. Robin Razor's autopsy revealed that she suffered multiple stab wounds along with multiple blows to the side of her face and a broken neck resulting in injuries to her spinal cord. Closer examination revealed that Robin suffered ten stab wounds to the head and neck area and one to the torso area. The wounds appeared to have been inflicted with a sharp object such as a knife or scissors. Based on examination of [] Robin's body and the defensive wounds present, the medical examiner opined that she had been involved in a violent struggle. In addition to the above wounds, Robin suffered multiple superficial wounds to her torso area which the medical examiner stated to be consistent with torment wounds— wounds produced not to cause serious injury but to cause aggravation and produce fear in the victim. The medical examiner was of the opinion that because blows to the victim's head were inflicted at different angles and the presence of significant defensive wounds, it was likely that she was conscious and struggling when these wounds were inflicted. The primary cause of death for Robin was determined to be the broken neck and spinal cord injury, although bleeding from the stab wounds would have also resulted in death.
The autopsy of Christina Razor revealed that she suffered blunt force trauma to her head, a stab wound to the base of her neck that pierced her heart, and another stab wound to her right shoulder that pierced her lung and lacerated her pulmonary artery. These latter two wounds would have resulted in significant internal and external hemorrhaging and would have been fatal. The medical examiner

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indicated that the only sign of defense wounds to Christina was the presence of a small contusion to her left hand, which could have occurred as she attempted to block a blow from her assailant. The medical examiner opined that Christina would have lost consciousness within a minute or two of receiving the stab wounds. The primary cause of death for Christina was determined to be internal and external hemorrhaging.
During his investigation of the crimes, Investigator John Parker of the Seminole County Sheriff's Department made contact with Reynolds and requested that he submit to an interview, to which Reynolds voluntarily agreed. During this interview, Investigator Parker also inquired about injuries that he observed on Reynolds' hand and ankle. In response to inquiries made about these injuries, Reynolds advised the investigator that at approximately five a.m. on the morning that the victims' bodies were discovered, he was taking his dog outside and slipped on the exterior step of his camper, twisting his ankle. Reynolds stated that the cut on his hand occurred when he caught his hand on a burr on the aluminum door frame of his trailer as he attempted to break his fall by grabbing the door frame. Reynolds advised the investigator that approximately thirty or forty minutes after sustaining the injuries he cleaned the cut to his hand and proceeded to an emergency room for treatment. Reynolds stated that while on his way to the emergency room he suffered a flat tire and borrowed a jack from a convenience store to change his tire and after doing so he proceeded to the emergency room. After receiving treatment for his injuries, Reynolds informed the investigator that he returned to his residence and removed the burr from the trailer door frame with a pair of channel-lock pliers.
In addition to the discussion concerning the injury, Reynolds also discussed an altercation in which he was involved with Danny Ray Privett regarding a trailer that was allegedly given to Reynolds by his landlord. According to Reynolds, the argument with Danny was centered upon Danny removing the trailer from Reynolds' property without permission. Upon discovering that Danny had removed the trailer, Reynolds indicated that he confronted Danny and a heated argument ensued. Reynolds stated that after exchanging words with Danny, he left Danny's property but returned a short while later to apologize and advise Danny that he could keep the trailer.

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Significantly, during this interview Reynolds advised the investigator that he had never been inside the trailer in which the victims were

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