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Tanzi v. State

Supreme Court of Florida

April 5, 2018

MICHAEL ANTHONY TANZI, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED.

          An Appeal from the Circuit Court in and for Monroe County, Luis M. Garcia, Judge - Case No. 442000CF000573000AKW

          Neal Dupree, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Scott Gavin, Staff Attorney, and Paul Kalil, Assistant Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, Southern Region, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for Appellant

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, and Scott A. Browne, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, Florida, for Appellee

          PER CURIAM.

         Michael A. Tanzi appeals an order denying a motion to vacate judgments of conviction, including one of first-degree murder, and a sentence of death under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851.[1]

         The underlying facts of this case were described in this Court's opinion on direct appeal. Tanzi v. State, 964 So.2d 106, 110-12 (Fla. 2007). Tanzi pled guilty to the first-degree murder of Janet Acosta. Id. at 111. He carjacked, kidnapped, beat, sexually battered, robbed, and strangled Ms. Acosta. Id. at 110-11. Following a unanimous jury recommendation for death, the trial court sentenced Tanzi to death for Ms. Acosta's murder. Id. at 111. The trial court found seven aggravating factors[2] and ten mitigating circumstances.[3] We affirmed Tanzi's convictions and sentence of death. Id. at 121. We also affirmed the denial of Tanzi's initial postconviction motion and denied relief on his habeas petition. Tanzi v. State, 94 So.3d 482, 497 (Fla. 2012).

         In this successive postconviction motion, Tanzi argues that he is entitled to relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S.Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So.3d 40 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 2161 (2017). We agree with Tanzi that Hurst is applicable in his case. See Mosley v. State, 209 So.3d 1248 (Fla. 2016). However, because we find that the Hurst error in this case is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we affirm the denial of postconviction relief. As we stated in Davis v. State, 207 So.3d 142, 175 (Fla. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 2218 (2017):

[T]he jury unanimously found all of the necessary facts for the imposition of death sentences by virtue of its unanimous recommendations. . . . . The unanimous recommendations here are precisely what we determined in Hurst to be constitutionally necessary to impose a sentence of death.

         We reject Tanzi's assertion that the Hurst error was not harmless because the jury was not given a mercy instruction. See Knight v. State, 225 So.3d 661, 683 (Fla. 2017), cert. denied, No. 17-7099 (U.S. Mar. 19, 2018).

         Additionally, we reject Tanzi's Hurst-induced Caldwell[4] claim. See Reynolds v. State, No. SC17-793, slip op. at 26-36 (Fla. Apr. 5, 2018).

         Accordingly, the Hurst violation in this case is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt and, as in Davis, does not entitle Tanzi to relief. Thus, we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.[5]

         It is so ordered.

          LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, ...


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