The Commission on Capital Cases was not funded in the FY 2011-2012 General Appropriations Act, and the Commission ceased operations on June 30, 2011. This site and the Commission website are being retained to provide access to historical materials.

The Registry Attorneys will be continued by the Justice Administration Commission.

These actions are effective July 1, 2011.

Disclaimer: The Commission on Capital Cases receives this information from a variety of sources. The site will be updated consistently as information is received and will be audited bi-annually. We make every attempt to ensure the accuracy of the information provided; however, the information should be verified by the applicable court prior to using it for legal or statistical purposes.


Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
BrunoMichael 658761CCRC-SCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
3/24/2006USDC06-60370Habeas Corpus
12/21/2010USDC06-60370Motion to Alter Judgement denied
1/18/2011USCA11-10255Habeas appeal filed
2/24/2011USCA11-10255COA granted

Current Attorney

Last NameFirst NameCityAddressZipPhoneEMail
ScherTodd G.Miami Beach, FL5600 Collins Ave., Apt. 15-B33140-2413305/861-9252Email


Last NameCase NumberJudgeCountyCCRCOrder DateContract Date

Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
Direct Links

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 on for statistical or legal purposes.


BRUNO, Michael George (W/M)

DC #   658761

DOB: 04/14/51


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 deathfor 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 thehome of Lionel Merlano on the evening of08/08/86.  After listening to music and drinking beer for a while, Brunoexcused himself and went to the bathroom.  Upon returning, Bruno removed acrowbar from his pants and began striking MerlanoMerlano was injured, but still alive.  Brunoordered his son to retrieve a gun that was under the bathroom sink.  Whenhis son returned with the gun, Bruno placed a pillow over Merlano’shead, firing two shots into his head.


Bruno returned numerous times to Merlano’sapartment in order steal all of the stereo equipment and other electronicdevices.  Merlano’s body was not discovereduntil 08/11/86, three days later.


Bruno argued that Merlano’s murderresulted from a fight between the two.  Bruno contended that Merlano was antagonizing his son, and that Merlano retrieved the gun from the bathroom.  Brunoreported that he obtained the gun from Merlano andonly shot him as he was reaching for the gun.


Additional Information:


Bruno was on probation for constructive possession when hemurdered 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 aresult of an exculpatory statement given by his father on his behalf.


Trial Summary:


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 deathpenalty.

09/25/87         The defendant was sentenced as followed:

                                   Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

                                   Count II:           Armed Robbery– Life in Prison


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal

FSC #71,419

574 So. 2d 76


11/09/87         Appeal filed.

01/03/91         FSC affirmed Bruno’s murder conviction and sentence of death, but vacated hissentence on the robbery

convictionand remanded for resentencing according to sentencing guidelines.

02/27/91         Rehearing denied.

04/01/91         Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC #90-8124

502 U.S. 834


05/24/91         Petition filed.

10/07/91         Petition denied.


State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion

CC #86-11892


07/26/93         Motion filed.

12/09/97         Motion denied.


Florida Supreme Court - 3.850 Appeal

FSC #92,223

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 HabeasCorpus

FSC #SC02-467

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 ofCertiorari

USSC #02-10848

540 U.S. 840


05/09/03         Petition filed.

10/06/03         Petition denied.


State Circuit Court – 3.853 Motion(DNA)

CC #86-11892


09/30/03         Motion filed.

03/16/04         Motion denied.


State Circuit Court – Successive 3.850 Motion

CC #86-11892


02/06/04         Motion filed.

03/16/04         Motion denied.


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 & 3.853 Appeal (DNA)

FSC #SC04-674

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 forWrit of Habeas Corpus

USDC# 06-60370


03/24/06          Petitionfiled.

03/30/10          Petitiondenied.

04/27/10          Motionto Alter Judgment filed.

12/21/10          Motiondenied.


U.S. Court ofAppeals, 11th Circuit – Habeas Appeal

USCA# 11-10255


01/18/11          Appealfiled.

02/24/11          Certificateof Appealabilty granted.

Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition ofthe Sentence:


Bruno’s Direct Appeal was pending for over three years inthe Florida Supreme Court.  Several motions to extend time were granted inorder for the lower court to adequately prepare the record andtranscripts.  In addition, both the appellant and appelleewere granted extensions in filing their initial briefs.


Bruno’s 3.850 Motion was pending in the State Circuit Courtfor over four years.


Case Information:


On 11/09/87, Bruno filed a Direct Appeal in the FloridaSupreme Court.  In that appeal, Bruno claimed that his confession shouldhave been suppressed because it was coerced through promises regarding thetreatment of his son.  In addition, Bruno argued that there wasinsufficient evidence to convict him of robbery, and that the trial judge erredin instructing the jury on excusable homicide.  Bruno raised numerousother claims in his appeal, which were all summarily denied withoutdiscussion.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Bruno’s murder convictionand sentence of death on 01/03/91; however, they remanded his case for resentencingregarding his robbery conviction.  The Florida Supreme Court ordered Brunoto 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 Certiorariin the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 10/07/91.


On 07/26/93, Bruno filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment andSentence (3.850) in the State Circuit Court, which was denied on12/09/97.  He appealed this decision to the Florida Supreme Court on1/20/98, which was denied on 12/06/01.


On 02/26/02, Bruno filed a Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus 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 inthe State Circuit Court, which was subsequently denied on 03/16/04.  Brunoalso 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 HabeasCorpus with the U.S. District Court, Southern District, which was denied on03/30/10.


On 4/27/10, Bruno filed a Motion to Alter Judgment. Thatmotion was denied on 12/21/10.


On 1/18/11, Bruno filed a habeas appeal in the U.S. Court ofAppeals for the 11th Circuit. On 02/24/11, Bruno’s Certificate of Appealability was granted.


Institutional Adjustment: 


 DATE           DAYS             VIOLATION                          LOCATION      

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

 07/08/90        15             POSS OFNARCOTICS                        FSP

 07/08/90        15             MISUSE OFSTATE PROP                  FSP

 12/28/93        0               DISORDERLYCONDUCT             UNION C. I.        

 04/05/01        0               MISUSEOF STATE PROP             UNION C. I.        




11/28/01 – ew

12/06/01 – approved – ws

03/16/11 – updated – jjk