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
ZackMichael 124439PrivateCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
9/28/2005USDC05-00369Habeas Corpus
11/14/2005USDC05-00369Proceedings stayed
3/20/2008USDC05-00369Amended Habeas filed
12/5/2008USDC05-00369Response brief filed
3/26/2009USDC-N05-00369Habeas Petition denied with prejudice
4/9/2009USDC-N05-00369Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment filed
4/20/2009USDC-N05-00369Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Denied
3/18/2005FSC05-9633.203 Appeal
9/20/2007FSC05-963Disposition affirmed
3/5/2008FSC05-963Motion for Rehearing filed
5/1/2008FSC05-963Rehearing denied
5/19/2009USCA09-12717Habeas Appeal filed

Current Attorney

Last NameFirst NameCityAddressZipPhoneEMail
McDermottLinda M.Wilton Manors, FL1141 N.E. 30th St.33334-850/322-2172Email


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 upon for statistical or legal purposes. 


ZACK, Michael Duane (W/M)

DC #   124439

DOB: 12/14/68


First Judicial Circuit, Escambia County, Case #96-2517

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Joseph Q. Tarbuck

Attorney, Trial: Elton William Killam - Assistant PublicDefender

Attorney, Direct Appeal: David A. Davis - Assistant PublicDefender

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Linda McDermott – Private


Date of Offense:  06/13/96

Date of Sentence:  11/24/97


Circumstances of Offense:


Michael Zack was convicted and sentenced to death for the06/13/96 murder of Ravonne Smith.


Prior to the murder of Ravonne Smith, Michael Zack residedin Tallahassee, Florida.  Zack became a regular at local bar andbefriended the bartender, Edith Pope.  Through various conversations, Zackrevealed that he witnessed his sister murder his mother with an axe. Feeling sorry for Zack, Pope gave him odd jobs to do around the bar.  On06/04/96, Zack’s girlfriend called him at the bar and informed him that he wasbeing evicted from her apartment.  Pope let Zack borrow her car to retrievehis personal belongings and he never returned.


Zack drove west to Panama City where he met and befriendedBobby Chandler at a local bar.  Chandler owned a local constructionbusiness and hired Zack to work for him.  Once Chandler discovered thatZack was living out of his car (Pope’s stolen Honda), he offered to let Zackstay with him temporarily.  On 06/11/96, Zack left Chandler’s home in themiddle of the night, stealing a couple of guns and $42 from Chandler’swallet.  Zack pawned the guns in Niceville the following day.


Zack then drove to Okaloosa County, stopping at anotherbar.  There he met Laura Rosillo.  Zack and Rosillo left the bartogether and headed to the beach to reportedly do drugs.  Once at thebeach, Zack attacked Rosillo.  He hit her head against one of the tiresand tore her clothing.  Zack strangled her and hid her body behind a sanddune, kicking dirt over her face before he left.  The physical evidencesuggested that Rosillo was sexually assaulted; however, the semen found in herbody could not be linked to Zack.


Zack proceeded to Joe’s Dirty Bar near Pensacola.  Itwas there that Zack met Ravonne Smith, one of the bar’s employees.  Thebar was not too busy that afternoon, giving Smith the opportunity to spend hertime visiting with Zack.  Smith called her friend Russell Williams andasked him to come to the bar because she was bored.  Around 7 p.m.,Smith, Williams and Zack left the bar together.  Prior to leaving, Smithcalled her live-in boyfriend and told him that she would be working late. The three drove to the beach where they smoked marijuana and then later, theyreturned to the bar.  After Williams departed, Zack and Smith proceeded toher house. 


Immediately after entering the house, Zack reportedly hitSmith over the head with a beer bottle.  Glass shards and blood splattersprayed onto the interior of the door frame and the adjacent loveseat. Smith ran down the hall to the master bedroom, leaving a trail of blood behindher.  Zack followed her into the bedroom and sexually assaulted herthere.  Smith then staggered into the guest bedroom and, upon seeing this,Zack smashed her head down onto the wooden floor.  At this point, Zackretrieved an oyster knife from the kitchen, returned to the guest bedroom whereSmith lay and stabbed her four times in the chest.  Zack took the knifeback to the kitchen to wash the blood off of it and stuffed Smith’s bloodyclothes into a dresser drawer.  He stole Smith’s car, along with hertelevision, VCR and purse.


That night, Zack removed the license plate and some personalbelongings from Pope’s stolen Honda and abandoned it in a lot nearby.  Hethen drove back to Panama City in Smith’s car and attempted to pawn several ofthe stolen items.  The shop clerk suspected that the goods were stolen andasked Zack for identification.  Zack fled the shop and abandoned Smith’scar.  He was apprehended a few days later when he was found hiding out inan empty house.  


After his arrest, Zack confessed to the murder of RavonneSmith and to the Pope and Chandler thefts. 


Additional Information:


At trial, Zack’s defense counsel argued that Zack suffersfrom fetal alcohol syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder which areclassified as a brain dysfunction and a mental impairment respectively. These conditions have been claimed to make Zack impulsive and cause him to beunder constant emotional and mental distress. 


Prior Incarceration History in the State of Florida:


Zack was convicted in Okaloosa County for the murder ofLaura Rosillo.  He was sentenced to life.



Offense Date


Sentence Date


Case No.

Community Supervision Length






2Y 0M 0D






1Y 0M 0D



Trial Summary:


06/25/96          The defendant was indicted on thefollowing charges:

                                    Count I:           First-DegreeMurder (Ravonne Smith)

                                    Count II:         Robberywith a Firearm

                                    Count III:        SexualBattery

09/15/97          Thejury found the defendant guilty of all counts charged in the indictment.

10/17/97          Uponadvisory sentencing, the jury, by an 11 to 1 majority, voted for the impositionof the death penalty.

11/24/97          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

Count I:           First-DegreeMurder (Ravonne Smith) - Death

                                    Count II:         Robberywith a Firearm - Life

Count III:        SexualBattery - Life


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal

FSC #92,089

753 So.2d 9 (Fla. 2000)


12/29/97          Appeal filed.

01/06/00          Florida Supreme Court affirmed convictionsand sentence of death.

03/20/00          Rehearing denied.

04/19/00          Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC #99-10062

531 U.S. 858 (U.S. 2000)


06/19/00          Petition filed.

10/02/00          Petition denied.


State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion

CC #96-2517


05/10/02          Motion filed.

07/15/03          Motion denied


Florida Supreme Court - 3.850 Appeal

FSC #03-1374

911 So.2d 1190


08/08/03          Appeal filed.

07/07/05          The FSC affirmed the denial of Zack’s3.850 Motion. 

09/16/05          Rehearing denied.

10/03/05          Mandate issued. 


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus

FSC #04-201

911 So.2d 1190


02/12/04          Petition filed.

07/07/05          Petition denied. 

09/16/05          Rehearing denied.

10/03/05          Mandate issued.


State Circuit Court – 3.851 (Mental Retardation)

CC #96-2517


12/01/04          Motion filed.

01/18/05          Motion dismissed with prejudice.


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus

FSC #05-378

918 So.2d 240


03/04/05          Petition filed.

10/06/05          Petition denied.

12/22/05          Rehearing denied. 


Florida Supreme Court – 3.203 Appeal

FSC# 05-963

982 So.2d 1179


03/18/05          Appeal filed.

09/20/07          Disposition affirmed.

10/03/07          Motion for Rehearing filed.

02/21/08          Rehearing denied.

03/05/08          Motion for Rehearing filed.

05/01/08          Rehearing denied.


United States District Court, North District –Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

USDC# 05-cv-00369

607 F.Supp.2d 1291


09/28/06          Petition filed.

11/14/05          Proceedings stayed.

03/20/08          Amended petition filed.

03/26/09          Petition denied with prejudice.

04/09/09          Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment filed.

04/20/09          Motion denied.


United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit – HabeasAppeal

USSC# 09-12717-P



05/19/09          Appeal filed.


Case Information:


On 12/29/97, Zack filed a Direct Appeal in the FloridaSupreme Court.  In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred inadmitting evidence of the crimes he committed during the weeks prior to Smith’smurder in violation of the Williams v. State[1]. Zack contended that “these crimes were not sufficiently similar to the crimescharged, did not prove intent or disprove involuntary intoxication, were notinextricably intertwined, and became a feature of the trial.”  The FloridaSupreme Court found no error in the admission of the evidence inquestion.  Zack also contended that the trial court erred in denying hismotion for acquittal on the sexual battery and robbery charges.  Zack nextargued that the State failed to prove the “avoid arrest” aggravatingfactor.  The Florida Supreme Court agreed, but found the error to beharmless in lieu of the weight of other valid, proven aggravators.  Zackalso argued that the “felony probation” aggravating factor could not be retroactivelyapplied to him, noting that it was in October of 1996 that the FloridaLegislature amended the statute, making the commission of a murder by adefendant on felony probation an aggravating factor[2]. The Florida Supreme Court agreed, but found the error to be harmless beyond areasonable doubt.  As such, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Zack’sconvictions and sentence of death on 01/06/00.


Next, Zack filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in theUnited States Supreme Court on 06/19/00.  The petition was denied on10/02/00.


Zack then filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court on05/10/02.  The motion was amended on 10/21/02 and denied on07/15/03. 


Zack filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on08/08/03.  Zack raised six issues for review in the appeal.  Heargued that the trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the DNAtestimony presented by the State; that counsel was ineffective since he failedto prepare him to testify at trial; that counsel was ineffective because hemade prejudicial comments to the jury; that the trial court erred in denyingclaims raised in his motion for postconviction relief; that Florida’ssentencing scheme is unconstitutional under Ring; and that collateral counselwas ineffective.  The court denied all six claims. On 07/07/05, theFlorida Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Zack’s 3.850 Motion. 


Zack filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in theFlorida Supreme Court on 02/12/04.  In his petition, Zack argued thatappellate counsel was ineffective for neglecting to raise a claim about theState’s racially motivated peremptory challenge during jury selection andshould have also argued that the prosecutor made impermissible arguments to thejury.  He also argued that the State introduced nonstautory aggravatingfactors in court and that appellate counsel was ineffective for neglecting toraise a claim on appeal about admitting certain crime scene photos as evidenceand for neglecting to raise a claim that the trial court erroneously admittedirrelevant and prejudicial evidence to the court such as evidence on othercrimes Zack committed.  The court denied all six of Zack’s claims, denyinghis petition on 07/07/05. 


On 12/01/04, Zack filed a 3.851 Motion for mentalretardation to the state circuit court.  On 01/18/05, the motion wasdismissed with prejudice. 


On 03/04/05, Zack filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpusto the Florida Supreme Court.  The FSC denied Zack’s petition on 10/06/05based on Chandler v. Crosby.


Zack filed a 3.203 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on03/18/05.  The Circuit Court’s decision was affirmed by the FloridaSupreme Court on 09/20/07.  Zack filed a Motion for Rehearing on 10/03/07which was denied on 02/21/08.  Zack filed a successive Motion forRehearing on 03/05/08 which was denied on 05/01/08.


On 09/28/05, Zack filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpusin the United States District Court, North District.  On 03/20/08, Zackfiled an amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.  This petition wasdenied with prejudice on 03/25/09. Zack filed a Motion to Alter or AmendJudgment on 04/09/09, and it was denied on 04/20/09.


On 05/19/09, Zack filed a Habeas Petition Appeal to theUnited States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit. This case is currently pending.


Institutional Adjustment: 






















Reported         04/10/03          EW

Approved        04/23/03          WS

Updated          09/16/09          EMJ


[1] Williams v. State – the standard rule for theadmission of evidence.  “Any evidence relevant to prove a material fact atissue is admissible unless precluded by a specific rule of exclusion.”

[2] Michael Zack was an absconder on felony probation inOklahoma.