Judicial Circuit, Seminole County Case # 00-923
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Kenneth Lester
Attorney, Trial: Timothy Caudill & James Figgatt – Assistant Public
Attorney, Direct Appeal: George D.E. Burden – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Maria DeLiberato – CCRC-M
Date of Offense:
Circumstances of Offense:
performed odd jobs around the residence and rental properties of Charles
and Thea Kersch.
On the morning
of 03/14/00, Buzia did not arrive at the Kersch residence to work as
scheduled. In a later police interview, Buzia stated that he intended
to resolve a “money issue” with the Kersches by stealing money from
When Mrs. Kersch arrived at her residence around 4:00 on
the 14th, Buzia was waiting for her. He told her that he
needed to talk to her husband. After a brief conversation and without
warning, Buzia struck Mrs. Kersch several times with his fist, causing
blood to spray from her nose.
After he knocked her down, he kicked her, and she lost consciousness.
He took her keys and removed $80 from her purse, then dragged her into
the back bedroom and covered her with a blanket. Buzia then searched
the house and removed a Mastercard from her purse.
Buzia heard the garage door open and assumed that Mr. Kersch had
arrived. As Mr. Kersch entered the house through the garage entrance,
Buzia struck him with his fist, causing Mr. Kersch to fall to the floor
and hit his head on the tile. Mr. Kersch attempted to rise, Buzia
struck him again with his fist, and Mr. Kersch again fell to the floor.
Buzia removed $100 from Mr. Kersch’s wallet.
Buzia removed an axe
(either single or double-edged) from the garage and struck Mr. Kersch
once in the head with the flat side of the axe. After hearing Mrs.
Kersch groaning from the back bedroom, Buzia went to the back bedroom
and also struck her once in the head with the flat side of the axe.
During police questioning
after his arrest, Buzia claimed that he struck the Kersches with the axe
to allow himself more time to escape.
After attempting to clean
up the house, Buzia took Mr. Kersch’s car keys and one of his t-shirts.
Buzia then changed shirts and drove away in Mr. Kersch’s car. Mrs.
Kersch had called 911 after Buzia’s initial attack, and a sheriff’s
deputy responded after Buzia fled.
Mrs. Kersch identified
Buzia as the attacker. Paramedics later arrived and treated Mrs. Kersch
for her injuries, but Mr. Kersch died from blunt force trauma to his
following morning, Buzia was arrested as he attempted to cash an $830
check from Mr. Kersch’s account. Bank employees recognized the car’s
description and license plate from television and newspaper reports
regarding the Kersch’s missing car and called police, who arrested Buzia
at the bank.
Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree
Count II: Attempted First-Degree Murder
Count III: Armed Burglary with Assault
Count IV: Armed Robbery
returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
recommended death by a vote of 8-4
Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree
Murder – Death
Count II: Attempted First-Degree Murder – Life Imprisonment
Count III: Armed Burglary with Assault – Life Imprisonment
Count IV: Armed Robbery – Life Imprisonment
filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 04/01/04, citing
the following errors: finding the aggravating circumstances of avoiding
arrest, HAC (heinous, atrocious, cruel), and CCP (cold, calculated,
premeditated); finding that the death penalty is warranted; and using a
sentencing procedure that violates Ring. On 03/23/06, the FSC
affirmed the convictions and sentences.
Buzia filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the U.S.
Supreme Court on 06/21/06 that was denied on 10/02/06.
On 08/30/07, Buzia filed a Motion for Post-Conviction
Relief in the State Circuit Court, which is still pending.