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Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
ViningJohn 929133PrivateCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
7/19/2004USDC04-01092Habeas filed
4/3/2006USDC04-01092Response to Amended Habeas Petition filed
1/29/2007USDC04-01092Reply to Response filed
10/15/2007USDC04-01092Habeas Petition denied
12/3/2007USCA07-15681Habeas Petition Appeal filed
6/28/2010USCA07-15681USCA affirmed the denial of the Habeas Petition
1/29/2011USSC10-9241Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed

Current Attorney


Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
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The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly

The Commission on Capital Cases updates thisinformation regularly.  This information, however, is subject to changeand may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not berelied upon for statistical or legal purposes.


VINING, John (W/M)

DC #   929133

DOB:   03/13/31


­­­Ninth Judicial Circuit, Orange County, Case #89-2395

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Joseph P. Baker

Attorney, Trial: Patricia Cashman – Assistant PublicDefender

Attorney, Direct Appeal: Larry B. Henderson – AssistantPublic 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 themurder of Georgia Caruso.


In November of 1987, Caruso advertised diamonds forsell.  A man, identifying himself as “George Williams,” but who wasactually John Vining, came to Caruso’s fingernail care business on several daysin November of 1987 to discuss buying the diamonds.  Joann Ward, Caruso’semployee, was introduced to “George Williams,” and her description of“Williams” matched John Vining.


On 11/17/87, Ward accompanied Caruso to meet Vining at thegem lab to have the jewelry appraised.  Ward said that “Williams” wasdriving a black Cadillac Fleetwood, which was the same car that Vining’s motherdrove.  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 toWilliams aka Vining.  Zaffis and Donner also gave descriptions of“Williams” that matched Ward’s description of “Williams.”  The diamondjewelry was appraised at $60,000. 


Caruso told Ward that she and “Williams” were going to thebank because he had decided to buy the jewelry.  Ward went back to workalone.  Ward and Zaffis remembered that Caruso was wearing a gold Rolexwatch and several rings, including an anniversary ring, a solitaire engagementring, and 6-carat diamond ring.  None of the jewelry was found withCaruso’s body.


On 12/08/87, land surveyors discovered Caruso’s body inApopka, FL.  The body was identified as Caruso’s through dentalrecords.  Caruso died from two gunshot wounds: one to the side of the faceand the other to the temple.  The black Cadillac belonging to Vining’smother was found burning shortly after the media announced the discovery ofCaruso’s body.


On 05/05/89, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department issued adetainer against John Vining, who was currently in prison in the state ofGeorgia.  At that time, Vining was serving a sentence for Kidnapping andAggravated Assault.  On 06/05/89, Vining was indicted for First-DegreeMurder and Armed Robbery in the state of Florida.


Additional Information:


Georgia Conviction (Chatham County)


Vining (ID# 240545) was convicted of Aggravated Assault andKidnapping.  He was sentenced to a 15-year sentence for each offense.


Trial Summary:


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

death penalty.

04/09/90         Vining was sentenced as follows:

                                   Count I:          First-Degree Murder (Georgia Caruso) – Death

                                   Count II:         Armed Robbery – Life


Appeals Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC #75,915

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 ofCertiorari

USSC #94-6184

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

CC #89-2395


03/26/96         Motion filed.

11/02/99         Motion denied.


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC #99-67

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 HabeasCorpus

FSC# 03-1107

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

USDC #04-cv-01092


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 – HabeasPetition Appeal

USCA# 07-15681

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 ofCertiorari

USSC# 10-9241



01/29/11            Petition filed.



Factors Contributing to the Delay in Execution ofSentence:


The Direct Appeal was pending for more than four years priorto being denied.  The 3.850 Motion was pending for more than three yearsprior to being denied.  The 3.850 Appeal has been pending for more thanthree years.


Case Information:


Vining filed his Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Courton 04/27/90.  The issues addressed included that the trial court erred innot granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss, allowing hypnotically-refreshedtestimony, and restricting questioning by the defense.  Other issuesinclude that the trial court erred by allowing improper prosecutorial argumentduring the closing and mishandled aggravating and mitigating factors, and alsoclaimed that the death penalty was not constitutional.  The FloridaSupreme Court did not find errors that warranted reversing the conviction orsentence and affirmed the conviction and sentence on 04/28/94.  Rehearingwas denied on 06/23/94.  A Mandate was issued on 07/25/94.


Vining filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari on 09/21/94with the United States Supreme Court.  The petition was denied on11/28/94.


Vining filed a 3.850 Motion on 03/26/96 with the circuitcourt.  The motion was denied on 11/02/99.


Vining filed a 3.850 Appeal on 12/08/99 with the FloridaSupreme Court.  Addressed issues included that a Brady violation hadoccurred, Vining was denied effective assistance of counsel, and that the deathpenalty was unconstitutional.  The Florida Supreme Court did not finderrors that warranted reversing the 3.850 Denial and affirmed the 3.850 Denialon 07/03/02.  Rehearing denied on 09/19/02.  Mandate issued 10/21/02.


Vining filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with theFlorida Supreme Court on 06/23/03.  The petition was denied on01/26/04.  Rehearing denied on 04/19/04.


On 07/19/04, Vining filed a Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus in the United States District Court, Middle District.  The petitionwas denied on 10/15/07.


On 12/03/07, Vining filed a Habeas Petition Appeal in theUnited States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit.  The USCA affirmed thedenial of the petition on 06/28/10.


Vining filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the UnitedStates Supreme Court on 01/28/11. This petition is currently pending.


Institutional Adjustment:


 DATE         DAYS                    VIOLATION                             LOCATION     

--------           ----                ----------------------------                -------------------

12/03/99         0                    POSS OF CONTRABAND               UNION C. I.       

05/20/01         60                  DISOBEYINGORDER                     UNION C.I.       




Report Date:   03/11/02         S.Q.

Approved:       10/25/02         W.S.

Updated:         03/15/11         EMJ