The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information, however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied on for statistical or legal purposes.
BRUNO, Michael George (W/M)
DC # 658761
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Case #86-11892
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Thomas M. Coker, Jr.
Trial Attorney: C. Craig Stella – Private
Attorneys, Direct Appeal: Steven Malone & Richard Greene - Assistant Public Defenders
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals: William Hennis & Todd Scher – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 08/08/86
Date of Sentence: 09/25/87
Circumstances of Offense:
Michael George Bruno was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Lionel Merlano on 08/08/86.
According to testimony given by Michael George Bruno, Jr., the defendant’s son, he and his father, Michael George Bruno, Sr., visited the home of Lionel Merlano on the evening of 08/08/86. After listening to music and drinking beer for a while, Bruno excused himself and went to the bathroom. Upon returning, Bruno removed a crowbar from his pants and began striking Merlano. Merlano was injured, but still alive. Bruno ordered his son to retrieve a gun that was under the bathroom sink. When his son returned with the gun, Bruno placed a pillow over Merlano’s head, firing two shots into his head.
Bruno returned numerous times to Merlano’s apartment in order steal all of the stereo equipment and other electronic devices. Merlano’s body was not discovered until 08/11/86, three days later.
Bruno argued that Merlano’s murder resulted from a fight between the two. Bruno contended that Merlano was antagonizing his son, and that Merlano retrieved the gun from the bathroom. Bruno reported that he obtained the gun from Merlano and only shot him as he was reaching for the gun.
Bruno was on probation for constructive possession when he murdered Lionel Merlano.
Michael George Bruno, Jr., the defendant’s 15-year-old son, who was present during the murder, was never brought up on any charges as a result of an exculpatory statement given by his father on his behalf.
08/13/86 Defendant arrested.
09/11/86 Defendant indicted on:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: Armed Robbery
08/11/87 The jury found the defendant guilty on both counts.
08/12/87 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 8 to 4 majority, voted for the death penalty.
09/25/87 The defendant was sentenced as followed:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Count II: Armed Robbery – Life in Prison
Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal
574 So. 2d 76
11/09/87 Appeal filed.
01/03/91 FSC affirmed Bruno’s murder conviction and sentence of death, but vacated his sentence on the robbery
conviction and remanded for resentencing according to sentencing guidelines.
02/27/91 Rehearing denied.
04/01/91 Mandate issued.
United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari
502 U.S. 834
05/24/91 Petition filed.
10/07/91 Petition denied.
State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion
07/26/93 Motion filed.
12/09/97 Motion denied.
Florida Supreme Court - 3.850 Appeal
807 So.2d 55
01/20/98 Appeal filed.
12/06/01 Denial affirmed.
02/05/02 Rehearing denied.
03/08/02 Mandate issued.
Florida Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
838 So.2d 485
02/26/02 Petition filed.
12/05/02 Petition denied.
02/11/03 Rehearing denied.
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
540 U.S. 840
05/09/03 Petition filed.
10/06/03 Petition denied.
State Circuit Court – 3.853 Motion (DNA)
09/30/03 Motion filed.
03/16/04 Motion denied.
State Circuit Court – Successive 3.850 Motion
02/06/04 Motion filed.
03/16/04 Motion denied.
Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 & 3.853 Appeal (DNA)
926 So.2d 1269
04/19/04 Appeal filed.
12/29/05 Appeal denied.
03/17/06 Rehearing denied.
U.S. District Court, Southern District – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
03/24/06 Petition filed.
03/30/10 Petition denied.
04/27/10 Motion to Alter Judgment filed.
12/21/10 Motion denied.
U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit – Habeas Appeal
01/18/11 Appeal filed.
02/24/11 Certificate of Appealabilty granted.
Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition of the Sentence:
Bruno’s Direct Appeal was pending for over three years in the Florida Supreme Court. Several motions to extend time were granted in order for the lower court to adequately prepare the record and transcripts. In addition, both the appellant and appellee were granted extensions in filing their initial briefs.
Bruno’s 3.850 Motion was pending in the State Circuit Court for over four years.
On 11/09/87, Bruno filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. In that appeal, Bruno claimed that his confession should have been suppressed because it was coerced through promises regarding the treatment of his son. In addition, Bruno argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of robbery, and that the trial judge erred in instructing the jury on excusable homicide. Bruno raised numerous other claims in his appeal, which were all summarily denied without discussion. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Bruno’s murder conviction and sentence of death on 01/03/91; however, they remanded his case for resentencing regarding his robbery conviction. The Florida Supreme Court ordered Bruno to be resentenced on that conviction according to sentencing guidelines. The mandate was issued on 04/01/91.
On 05/24/91, Bruno filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 10/07/91.
On 07/26/93, Bruno filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence (3.850) in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on 12/09/97. He appealed this decision to the Florida Supreme Court on 1/20/98, which was denied on 12/06/01.
On 02/26/02, Bruno filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court, which was denied on 12/05/02.
On 05/09/03, Bruno filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, which was denied on 10/06/03.
On 09/30/03, Bruno filed a 3.853 Motion for DNA testing in the State Circuit Court, which was subsequently denied on 03/16/04. Bruno also filed a Successive 3.850 Motion that was denied 03/16/04.
On 04/19/04, Bruno filed a 3.851 Motion and 3.853 Appeal (DNA) in the Florida Supreme Court, which was denied on 12/29/05.
On 03/24/06, Bruno filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the U.S. District Court, Southern District, which was denied on 03/30/10.
On 4/27/10, Bruno filed a Motion to Alter Judgment. That motion was denied on 12/21/10.
On 1/18/11, Bruno filed a habeas appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. On 02/24/11, Bruno’s Certificate of Appealability was granted.
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION
-------- ---- ---------------------------- -------------------
07/08/90 15 POSS OF NARCOTICS FSP
07/08/90 15 MISUSE OF STATE PROP FSP
12/28/93 0 DISORDERLY CONDUCT UNION C. I.
04/05/01 0 MISUSE OF STATE PROP UNION C. I.
11/28/01 – ew
12/06/01 – approved – ws
03/16/11 – updated – jjk