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 upon for statistical or legal purposes.
VINING, John (W/M)
DC # 929133
Ninth Judicial Circuit, Orange County, Case #89-2395
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Joseph P. Baker
Attorney, Trial: Patricia Cashman – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Larry B. Henderson – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Terri Backhus – Private
Date of Offense: 11/17/87
Date of Sentence: 04/09/90
Circumstances of Offense:
John Vining was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Georgia Caruso.
In November of 1987, Caruso advertised diamonds for sell. A man, identifying himself as “George Williams,” but who was actually John Vining, came to Caruso’s fingernail care business on several days in November of 1987 to discuss buying the diamonds. Joann Ward, Caruso’s employee, was introduced to “George Williams,” and her description of “Williams” matched John Vining.
On 11/17/87, Ward accompanied Caruso to meet Vining at the gem lab to have the jewelry appraised. Ward said that “Williams” was driving a black Cadillac Fleetwood, which was the same car that Vining’s mother drove. Ward ran errands while Caruso and Vining were at the gem lab.
Caruso, when they went to have the jewelry appraised, introduced Ellen Zaffis and Kevin Donner, employees of Winter Park Gem Lab to Williams aka Vining. Zaffis and Donner also gave descriptions of “Williams” that matched Ward’s description of “Williams.” The diamond jewelry was appraised at $60,000.
Caruso told Ward that she and “Williams” were going to the bank because he had decided to buy the jewelry. Ward went back to work alone. Ward and Zaffis remembered that Caruso was wearing a gold Rolex watch and several rings, including an anniversary ring, a solitaire engagement ring, and 6-carat diamond ring. None of the jewelry was found with Caruso’s body.
On 12/08/87, land surveyors discovered Caruso’s body in Apopka, FL. The body was identified as Caruso’s through dental records. Caruso died from two gunshot wounds: one to the side of the face and the other to the temple. The black Cadillac belonging to Vining’s mother was found burning shortly after the media announced the discovery of Caruso’s body.
On 05/05/89, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department issued a detainer against John Vining, who was currently in prison in the state of Georgia. At that time, Vining was serving a sentence for Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault. On 06/05/89, Vining was indicted for First-Degree Murder and Armed Robbery in the state of Florida.
Georgia Conviction (Chatham County)
Vining (ID# 240545) was convicted of Aggravated Assault and Kidnapping. He was sentenced to a 15-year sentence for each offense.
09/01/89 Vining was arrested.
06/05/89 Vining was indicted on the following counts:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Georgia Caruso)
Count II: Armed Robbery
02/01/90 Vining was found guilty for each count of the indictment.
03/08/90 Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 11 to 1 majority, voted for the
04/09/90 Vining was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Georgia Caruso) – Death
Count II: Armed Robbery – Life
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
637 So. 2d 921 (Fla. 1994)
04/27/90 Appeal filed.
04/28/94 FSC affirmed the conviction and sentence.
06/23/94 Rehearing denied.
07/25/94 Mandate issued.
United State Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
513 U.S. 1022; 115 S. Ct. 589; 130 L. Ed. 2d 502 (U.S. 1994)
09/21/94 Petition filed.
11/28/94 USSC denied the petition.
Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion
03/26/96 Motion filed.
11/02/99 Motion denied.
Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal
827 So. 2d 201 (Fla. 2002)
12/08/99 Appeal filed.
07/03/02 Appeal denied.
09/19/02 Rehearing denied.
10/21/02 Mandate issued.
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
873 So.2d 1226
06/20/03 Petition filed.
01/26/04 Petition denied.
04/19/04 Rehearing denied.
United State District Court, Middle District – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
07/19/04 Petition filed.
11/07/04 Amended petition filed.
01/17/05 Amended petition filed.
10/15/07 Petition denied.
United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit – Habeas Petition Appeal
610 F.3d 568
12/03/07 Appeal filed.
06/28/10 USCA affirmed the denial of the petition.
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
01/29/11 Petition filed.
Factors Contributing to the Delay in Execution of Sentence:
The Direct Appeal was pending for more than four years prior to being denied. The 3.850 Motion was pending for more than three years prior to being denied. The 3.850 Appeal has been pending for more than three years.
Vining filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 04/27/90. The issues addressed included that the trial court erred in not granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss, allowing hypnotically-refreshed testimony, and restricting questioning by the defense. Other issues include that the trial court erred by allowing improper prosecutorial argument during the closing and mishandled aggravating and mitigating factors, and also claimed that the death penalty was not constitutional. The Florida Supreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the conviction or sentence and affirmed the conviction and sentence on 04/28/94. Rehearing was denied on 06/23/94. A Mandate was issued on 07/25/94.
Vining filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari on 09/21/94 with the United States Supreme Court. The petition was denied on 11/28/94.
Vining filed a 3.850 Motion on 03/26/96 with the circuit court. The motion was denied on 11/02/99.
Vining filed a 3.850 Appeal on 12/08/99 with the Florida Supreme Court. Addressed issues included that a Brady violation had occurred, Vining was denied effective assistance of counsel, and that the death penalty was unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the 3.850 Denial and affirmed the 3.850 Denial on 07/03/02. Rehearing denied on 09/19/02. Mandate issued 10/21/02.
Vining filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 06/23/03. The petition was denied on 01/26/04. Rehearing denied on 04/19/04.
On 07/19/04, Vining filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, Middle District. The petition was denied on 10/15/07.
On 12/03/07, Vining filed a Habeas Petition Appeal in the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. The USCA affirmed the denial of the petition on 06/28/10.
Vining filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 01/28/11. This petition is currently pending.
DATE DAYS VIOLATION LOCATION
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12/03/99 0 POSS OF CONTRABAND UNION C. I.
05/20/01 60 DISOBEYING ORDER UNION C. I.
Report Date: 03/11/02 S.Q.
Approved: 10/25/02 W.S.
Updated: 03/15/11 EMJ