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.
TANZI, Michael (W/M)
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Monroe County Case # 00-00573
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Mark Jones
Attorney, Trial: William Kuypers – Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Andrew Stanton – Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: TBA – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 04/25/00
Date of Sentence: 02/19/03
Circumstances of Offense:
Michael Tanzi was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Janet Acosta.
During her lunch hour on April 25, 2000, Janet Acosta was seated inside her van with the window rolled down, reading a book at the Japanese Gardens in Miami, Florida. At the same time, Tanzi was stranded in Miami with no means of returning to his home in Key West. Tanzi approached Acosta’s van, asking her for a cigarette and the time. When Acosta was distracted, Tanzi punched her repeatedly in the face and gained entry into the van. Holding her wrist and threatening her with a razor blade, he drove the van to Homestead, Florida.
When they reached Homestead, Tanzi stopped at a gas station where he bound and gagged Acosta with materials found in her van. He took 53 dollars in cash, purchased cigarettes and a soda, and took Acosta’s bank card. He also forced Acosta to perform oral sex but stopped her from continuing because her teeth were loose from the earlier beating. Tanzi continued driving on to Tavernier in the Florida Keys.
In Tavernier, Tanzi stopped at approximately 5:15 p.m. to withdraw money from Acosta’s account using her personal identification number. Soon thereafter, he stopped again at a hardware store to purchase duct tape and razor blades. At approximately 6:30 p.m., they arrived at Sugarloaf Key. It was there that Tanzi decided he would have to eliminate Acosta as she was impeding his progress and leaving her alive would result in his swift capture. He drove to an isolated area in Cudjoe Key, told her he was going to kill her, and began to strangle her. He stopped to place duct tape over her mouth, nose, and eyes in an attempt to quiet her and then strangled her until she expired. Tanzi then left Acosta’s body in a wooded area.
Tanzi then drove to Key West, where he used Acosta’s ATM card, smoked marijuana, and visited friends. He had planned to purchase more drugs with her money and to alter the appearance of the van, but the police found Acosta’s van after her friends had reported her missing. When the police approached Tanzi about the van, he had receipts in his pocket documenting his use of Acosta’s ATM card and told the police that he “knew what this was about.” He waived his rights and began confessing to the assault, abduction, robbery, sexual battery, and murder of Janet Acosta.
He repeated his confession in great detail on audio and videotape. He also showed the police where he had left Acosta’s body and where he had disposed of the duct tape and rope.
05/16/00 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Janet Acosta)
Count II: Carjacking with a Deadly Weapon
Count III: Kidnapping
Count IV: Armed Robbery
02/19/03 Jury recommended death by a vote of 12-0
04/11/03 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
04/21/03 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Janet Acosta) – Death
Count II: Carjacking with a Deadly Weapon – Life
Count III: Kidnapping – Life
Count IV: Armed Robbery – Life
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
964 So.2d 106 (2007)
03/16/05 Appeal filed
05/10/07 Appeal denied
05/25/07 Motion for Rehearing filed
08/27/07 Rehearing denied
09/12/07 Mandate issued
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
128 S.Ct. 1243 (2008)
11/26/07 Petition filed
02/19/08 Petition denied
Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion
02/18/09 Motion filed
03/24/10 Motion denied
Florida Supreme Court – 3.851 Motion Appeal
04/30/10 Appeal filed
Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
01/13/11 Petition filed
Tanzi filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 03/16/05. There were six issues raised. First, Tanzi claimed that the trial court erred in denying Tanzi’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Second, he argued that the trial court erred in permitting questions regarding lack of remorse. Third, Tanzi claimed that the trial court erred in permitting impeachment of Tanzi’s expert witness by a specific and unrelated act of misconduct. Fourth, he argued that the trial court erred in admitting Tanzi’s confession to sexual battery. Fifth, Tanzi claimed the trial court erred in assessing the murder in the course of a felony aggravator twice. Sixth, he argued that the trial court did not properly consider and weigh mitigation evidence. The Court affirmed Tanzi’s conviction and death sentence on 05/10/07. On 05/25/07, Tanzi filed a Motion for Rehearing, which was denied on 08/27/07. The Florida Supreme Court issued a mandate on 09/12/07.
On 11/26/07, Tanzi filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. This petition was denied on 02/19/08.
On 02/18/09, Tanzi filed a 3.851 Motion in the Circuit Court. This motion was denied on 03/24/10.
Tanzi filed an appeal of the 3.851 Motion in the Florida Supreme Court on 04/30/10. This appeal is currently pending.
Tanzie filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 01/13/11. This petition is currently pending.
Report Date: 10/01/07 AEH
Approved: 11/05/07 RM
Updated: 02/08/11 EMJ
 The jury recommended death on 02/19/03 two months before the guilty verdicts were returned as Tanzi had originally entered a guilty plea, but then argued for a guilt phase if he was forced to have a penalty jury. This information is available in the 05/10/07 Florida Supreme Court Opinion.