Fifth Judicial Circuit, Marion
County Case# 87-2719-CF-AW
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
Raymond T. McNeal
Trial Attorney: James Reich Ė
Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal:
Michael S. Becker Ė Assistant Public Defender
Attorneys, Collateral Appeals:
Harry P. Brody & Linda McDermott Ė Registry
Date of Offense: 11/27/87
Date of Sentence: 09/06/88
Circumstances of the Offense:
On 11/27/87, Anthony Ponticelli
arrived at Keith Dotsonís house around 6:30 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. Ponticelli
stayed for approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
Around 7:30 p.m., Ponticelli
was seen at Ralph and Nick Grandinettiís house. Timothy Keese, the
Grandinettiís roommate, heard the three discussing money that Ponticelli
owed the two brothers for cocaine. Ponticelli told the two that he would
sell the cocaine that they currently had and then settle up with them in
regard to the money that he owed them. The two brothers agreed to take
Ponticelli to sell the cocaine. The three left the house. Keese left the
house and when he returned neither of the Grandetti brothers was there.
Ed Brown, Dotsonís cousin who
was at Dotsonís house, stated that Ponticelli returned to Dotsonís house
with two people in the car. Ponticelli told Brown that he intended to
kill the two brothers for money and cocaine. Ponticelli showed the gun
to Brown and told him that he would need a ride back to Ponticelliís
house later. Brown begrudgingly agreed to give Ponticelli a ride later
and gave him Dotsonís phone number.
Dennis Freeman, Ponticelliís
cellmate after arrest, testified that Ponticelli stated the following
events. Ponticelli shot the two Grandetti brothers in the head. He shot
the driver first with two shots and then the passenger once. The
passenger was still alive.
Joseph Leonard, Ponticelliís
best friend, testified that Ponticelli arrived at his house around 9:30
p.m., after the shooting. Ponticelli returned a gun that Leonard had
allowed him to borrow. At this time, Ponticelli stated that he ďdid
NickĒ and asked Leonard what he should do with the bodies. Ponticelli
told Leonard that the Grandettiís had been harassing him about money
that he owed them and would not let him leave their house until they got
their money. Ponticelli then left Leonardís house. Upon leaving
Leonardís house, Ponticelli got a flat tire and abandoned the car with
the bodies still in it.
Around 11:30 p.m. Ponticelli
took a cab back to Dotsonís house. He told Dotson that he had shot the
Grandetti brothers in the car for cocaine and $2000. Brown testified
that Ponticelli asked him if he thought a person could live through
being shot in the head. Ponticelli told Brown that he had heard one of
the men moaning. Brown stated that he told Ponticelli not to worry.
Ponticelli washed his clothes while at Dotsonís house and Brown then
drove him home.
The Grandetti brothers were
found on 11/28/87. Nick Grandetti was found on the floorboard of the
car. His head was badly injured, and he was gasping for air and kicking
his foot. His head was covered with blood, and there was blood spattered
all over the car. Nick survived until 12/12/87. He died of cardiac
arrest, which was secondary to the gunshot wounds. An autopsy showed
that Nick had suffered two gunshot wounds to the back of the head, and
he had a number of bruises on the back and side of his head, which was
consistent with blunt force trauma. The skin on his right ear was red
and peeling, which was consistent with hot pressure being placed upon
the ear for an extended period of time. Ralph Grandetti was dead in the
back seat of the car when the two were found. The medical examiner
stated that Ralph died within two minutes of being shot. He was shot
once in the head at close range.
On 11/29/87, Ponticelli burned
some clothing in Ronald Halseyís backyard. Halsey testified that he
asked Ponticelli why he was burning his clothes and Ponticelli told him
that he had shot two men who he owed money for cocaine. Ponticelli
stated that he shot both of the men in the head and threw one in the
back seat. The other man was still moving so Ponticelli related that he
hit him in the head with the butt of the gun a number of times.
Ponticelli then stated that he had a flat tire, so he took several grams
of cocaine and $90 in cash.
Leonard gave the police the
murder weapon and provided them with a statement. This evidence and
statement resulted in Ponticelliís arrest.
11/27/87 Indicted as
Count I: First-Degree Murder
Count II: First-Degree Murder
Count III: Armed Robbery Using a Weapon
entered a written plea of not guilty
Defendant filed a motion to change plea. The hearing
was scheduled for 02/29/88
02/18/88 Order for
Substitution of Counsel was granted based on a conflict the Public
Defenderís Office had due to their previous representation of one of the
07/25/88 Motion to rely
on insanity defense was entered
08/12/88 Defendant was
found guilty of both counts of First-Degree Murder
recommended death by a vote of 9-3
09/06/88 Sentenced as
Count I: First-Degree Murder Ė Death
Count II: First-Degree Murder Ė Death
Count III: Armed Robbery Using a Weapon Ė Dismissed
Ponticelli filed a Direct Appeal
in the Florida Supreme Court on 09/08/88. The main issues raised in
regard to the guilt phase were the court incorrectly found Ponticelli
competent to stand trial and that three statements made to the police
investigator should have been suppressed.
The Court stated that there
was sufficient evidence to support the trial courtís ruling on
Ponticelliís competency to stand trial. In addition, the court agreed
with Ponticelli that the second statement was inadmissible, but that the
error was harmless. All of the issues raised in regard to the penalty
phase were rejected.
The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Ponticelliís
conviction and sentence on 10/10/91. The rehearing was denied on
03/09/92, and the mandate was issued on 04/08/92.
Ponticelli filed a Petition for
Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 06/08/92. The
USSC granted certiorari and remanded the case to the Florida Supreme
Court for further consideration in light of Espinosa v. Florida
on 10/05/92 due to the rejection of the claim regarding the
constitutionality of the aggravating factors of heinous, atrocious, or
cruel and cold, calculated, and premeditated.
The Florida Supreme Court
issued a revised opinion on 03/04/93. The opinion stated that the
challenge to the instruction given for the aggravating factors was
procedurally barred because there was no request for specific
instructions or objections raised at the time of the trial. Therefore,
the court affirmed Ponticelliís conviction and sentence. The rehearing
was denied on 05/27/93, and the mandate was issued on 06/28/93.
Ponticelli filed a Petition for
Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 08/25/93. The
petition was denied on 10/18/93.
Ponticelli filed a 3.850 Motion
to the Circuit Court on 05/17/95, which was denied on 11/01/02.
Ponticelli filed a 3.850 Appeal
to the Florida Supreme Court on 01/06/03. On 03/18/05, the Court
ordered to consolidate this case with Ponticelliís Petition for Writ of
On appeal, Ponticelli raises the following five issues:
(1) the State violated Brady and Giglio in a number of
ways throughout trial, (2) the State suppressed several pieces of
evidence regarding the cocaine party that began the night before the
homicides, (3) ineffective assistance of counsel during the penalty
phase and guilt phase, (4) denial of competent mental health assistance,
and (5) inappropriate summary denial of claims raised in his fifth
amended 3.850 Motion.
The Court determined that none of these
allegations have merit and Ponticelli failed to establish support for
these claims. On 08/31/06, the Court affirmed the trial courtís denial
of Ponticelliís 3.850 Motion.
Ponticelli filed a second 3.850
Motion to the Circuit Court, which was denied on 08/26/03.
Ponticelli filed a 3.850 Appeal
to the Florida Supreme Court on 09/12/03, which was denied on 06/09/04.
Ponticelli filed a Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 10/20/03. On
03/18/05, the Court ordered to consolidate this case with Ponticelliís
3.850 Appeal. In his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Ponticelli
made the following claims: (1) Floridaís capital sentencing scheme is
unconstitutional under Ring, (2) Ponticelliís death sentence was
unconstitutional, and (3) the appellate counsel rendered ineffective
The Court found that each of the above claims is without
merit. On 08/31/06, the Court denied Ponticelliís Petition for Writ of
inmate's trial denied - High court rules out appeal in 1987 slaying
September 1, 2006
The Florida Supreme Court denied an
Ocala man on death row another trial in a ruling Thursday.
Anthony John Ponticelli, 39, and
his lawyers tried appealing his 1988 conviction and death sentence for
the November 1987 murders of Nicholas and Ralph Grandinetti.
In the ruling, the state Supreme
Court said Ponticelli got a fair shake at trial.
Ponticelli was sentenced to death
in 1988, after being convicted of shooting Nicholas and Ralph
Grandinetti in November 1987. Assistant State Attorney Sarah Ritterhoff
Williams handled the case.
The Grandinetti brothers were found
shot in a car behind a Silver Springs Shores home. Ralph Grandinetti
died at the scene. Nicholas Grandinetti, who never regained
consciousness, died at Shands Hospital in Gainesville 2 weeks later.
The mother of the victims' said
Thursday that when anything comes up in the case, she remembers the
"Nicki didn't die right away. He
was in a coma at Shands. He was shot up in the temple," said his mother,
Rayona Russo, on Thursday. "When he died, he was curled up like a baby."
Ponticelli killed the brothers,
stealing about $2,000 and cocaine.
"I don't believe in the death
penalty but I'm starting to change my mind. He didn't even say he was
sorry," Russo said.
In Ponticelli's appeal he claimed
the prosecutors withheld information about cocaine use the night of the
murders, didn't inform him of what he viewed as deals with witnesses who
testified against him at trial and that the state allowed witnesses to
give false testimony regarding the drug use. He also said he had
ineffective appellate counsel.
The Supreme Court denied motion for
post-conviction relief unanimously.
One justice, Harry Lee Anstead,
agreed with the conviction but said in the opinion, he felt Ponticelli
should have another penalty phase.
"The State permitted false
testimony to be presented on this issue (cocaine) that the State's
investigator knew to be false. . . . Nevertheless, the State allowed
Keesee (a witness) to testify falsely . . . I agree with the majority
that Ponticelli is not entitled to relief from his convictions. I cannot
agree, however, that he is not entitled to a new penalty phase when it
is so apparent that a completely false picture was presented to the jury
of Ponticelli's drug use at the time of the crime," Anstead wrote.
Anthony John Ponticelli