Farina v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr.

Decision Date26 March 2012
Docket NumberCASE NO. 6:06-cv-1768-Orl-36GJK
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida

This case is before the Court on the Amended Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief (Doc. No. 49) filed by Anthony Joseph Farina. Pursuant to the instructions of the Court, Respondents filed a Response to the Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. No. 61). Thereafter, Petitioner filed a Reply to the Response (Doc. No. 690). For the following reasons, the Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to relief on his claims.

I. Statement of the Facts

The facts adduced at trial, as set forth by the Supreme Court of Florida,1 are as follows:

[Jeffrey A. ] Farina and his brother, Anthony J. Farina, were tried together and convicted of fatally shooting seventeen-year-old Michelle Van Ness during the May 1992 robbery of a Taco Bell restaurant in Daytona Beach. Jeffery Farina fired the shot to the head that killed Van Ness.
. . .
Van Ness and the other three victims all worked at Taco Bell. After the restaurant closed early on May 9, 1992, Jeffery and Anthony Farina confronted Van Ness and Derek Mason, 16, while the two employees were emptying trash. Jeffery was armed with a .32-caliber pistol, Anthony carried a knife and rope, and both wore gloves.
The Farinas ordered Van Ness and Mason into the restaurant, where they rounded up two other employees. Jeffery held three employees at gunpoint, while Anthony forced employee Kimberly Gordon, 18, to open the safe and hand over the day's receipts. Although there were assurances that no one would be hurt, the Farinas tied the employees' hands behind their backs and Anthony forced them into a walk-in freezer.
Survivors testified that Van Ness was shaking and crying as she entered the freezer and she was afraid she would be hurt. Shortly after the employees were led to the freezer, Jeffery shot Mason in the mouth. He then shot employee Gary Robinson, 19, in the chest, and finally shot Van Ness in the head. Gordon was stabbed in the back.
The Farinas fled the restaurant, but were arrested later that day after another Taco Bell employee saw Anthony buying gasoline at a service station and called the police. When arrested, Jeffery had a receipt from a local store indicating that he had purchased .32-caliber bullets, gloves, and clothesline on May 8. The Farinas had $1,885 of the $2,158 that was taken from Taco
Van Ness died on May 10. The Farinas were charged with first-degree murder and six other offenses.

J. Farina I, 680 So. 2d at 394.2 On direct appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida vacatedPetitioner's death sentence and remanded the case for a new penalty phase. Farina I, 679 So. 2d at 1153. Following the second penalty phase, the Supreme Court noted the following:

On remand, a joint penalty proceeding was held before a new jury. By a vote of twelve to zero the jury recommended the death penalty for each defendant. The trial court followed the jury recommendation and sentenced both defendants to death.
In imposing the death penalty on Anthony, the trial judge found five aggravating factors: (1) defendant was previously convicted of another capital felony or felony involving the use or threat of violence based upon the attempted murders of the other restaurant employees; (2) the murder was committed to avoid arrest; (3) the murder was committed for pecuniary gain; (4) the murder was heinous, atrocious, or cruel (HAC); and (5) the murder was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification (CCP). The judge found three statutory mitigating factors (Anthony had no significant history of prior criminal activity; he was an accomplice in the capital felony committed by Jeffery and his participation was relatively minor; he was eighteen years old at the time of the crime) and fifteen nonstatutory mitigating factors (abused and battered childhood, history of emotional problems, cooperation with the police, involvement in Christianity and Bible study courses while in prison, good conduct in prison, remorse for what happened, assertion of a positive influence on others, no history of violence, abandonment by his father, poor upbringing by his mother, lack of education, good employment history, and amenability to rehabilitation). The trial judge concluded that the aggravating factors far outweighed the mitigating factors, and imposed the death penalty.

Farina II, 801 So. 2d at 48-49.

II. Procedural History

Petitioner was charged by indictment with first degree murder (count one), threecounts of attempted first degree murder (counts two, three, and four), armed robbery with a firearm or deadly weapon (count five), burglary of an occupied structure with a battery (count six), four counts of kidnapping (counts seven, eight, nine, and ten), and conspiracy to commit murder and/or armed robbery (count eleven) (Ex. A-16 at 2162-67).3 Prior to trial, Petitioner moved to sever his trial from his co-defendant's trial. Id. at 2245-46. The trial court granted the motion because the State wished to introduce the defendants' separate statements made to police (Ex. A-17 at 2430-31). The trial court found that the State could try the co-defendants together and use only the portions of taped statements made when both defendants were present.4 Id. at 2431. The State elected to try Petitioner and his brother together, and after the jury trial (Ex. A-21 -24), Petitioner was convicted on all counts as charged (Ex. A-18 at 2609-19). The trial judge entered a judgment of acquittal with respect to the kidnapping counts (counts seven, eight, nine, and ten). Id. at 2683.

A penalty proceeding was conducted (Ex. A-25 -27), and the jury recommended by a vote of seven to five that the trial court impose the death penalty upon Petitioner (Ex. A-18 at 2639). Thereafter, the trial judge conducted a hearing pursuant to Spencer v. State, 615 So. 2d 688 (Fla. 1993), after which it found five aggravating factors, no statutory mitigating factors, and several non-statutory mitigating factors. Id. at 2650-55. The trial courtconcluded that the aggravating circumstances outweighed any mitigating circumstances and as such, followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Petitioner to death for the first degree murder conviction. Id. The trial court also sentenced Petitioner to six consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the remaining counts.5 Id. at 2674-80.

On direct appeal, Petitioner raised ten claims (Ex. B). The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed Petitioner's convictions and the sentences with respect to the noncapital offenses but vacated Petitioner's death sentence because the trial court erroneously excused for cause a prospective juror who was qualified to serve.6 Farina I, 679 So. 2d at 1153. The Court remanded the case for a new penalty proceeding. Id. at 1158. On remand, a joint penalty phase was held before a jury for both Petitioner and Jeffrey (Ex. F-21 - F-28). The jury recommended by a vote of twelve to zero that the trial court impose the death penalty upon Petitioner (Ex. F-3 at 336). The trial judge conducted a Spencer hearing (Ex. F-29) and found five aggravating factors, three statutory mitigating factors, and fifteen nonstatutory mitigating factors (Ex. F-3 at 354-61). The trial court concluded that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances and accordingly sentenced Petitioner to death.7 Id. at 360. Petitioner appealed and raised twelve claims for relief(App. G), and the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed Petitioner's death sentence. Farina

II, 801 So. 2d at 48.

On April 4, 2003, Petitioner filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 3.851 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure alleging thirteen grounds for relief (Ex. L-2 at 252-326). The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on claims three and twelve (Ex. L-1 at 22-179). After the evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the Rule 3.851 motion (Ex. L-3 at 478-95). Petitioner appealed, and while his appeal was pending, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Ex. P). The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the trial court's denial of Petitioner's Rule 3.851 motion and denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus. Farina (Anthony) v. State, 937 So. 2d 612, 616 (Fla. 2006) ("Farina III").

Petitioner then filed a second Rule 3.851 motion for post-conviction relief, alleging two grounds for relief (Ex. U at 33-52). The trial court summarily denied relief. Id. at 175-78. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the lower court's order denying relief. Farina (Anthony) v. State, 992 So. 2d 819 (Fla. 2008) (unpublished) ("Farina IV"). The instant amended federal habeas petition follows.

III. Governing Legal Principles

Because Petitioner filed his petition after April 24, 1996, this case is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996("AEDPA"). Abdul-Kabir v. Quarterman, 550 U.S. 233, 246 (2007); Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792 (2001). The AEDPA "establishes a more deferential standard of review of state habeas judgments," Fugate v. Head, 261 F.3d 1206, 1215 (11th Cir. 2001), in order to "prevent federal habeas 'retrials' and to ensure that state-court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under law." Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693 (2002); see also Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (recognizing that the federal habeas court's evaluation of state-court rulings is highly deferential and that state-court decisions must be given the benefit of the doubt).

A. Standard of Review Under the AEDPA

Pursuant to the AEDPA, habeas relief may not be granted with respect to a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudication of the claim:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT