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Thread: Marvin Charles Gabrion II - Federal Death Row

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    Marvin Charles Gabrion II - Federal Death Row


    Rachel Timmerman and her daughter, Shannon, in a family photo.




    Summary of Offense:

    On March 16, 2002, Marvin Gabrion was sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of Rachel Timmerman in Michigan's Manistee National Forest. Although Michigan does not have the death penalty, Gabrion was sentenced under the federal system because the victim was killed on federal property. Gabrion's case marks the first federal death sentence imposed on a defendant in a state that does not have the death penalty since the federal death penalty was reinstated.

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    Condemned inmate to have death sentence appeal heard

    CINCINNATI, Ohio (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A man convicted of killing a West Michigan woman who was sentenced to death is appealing that sentence.

    Back in 2002 a federal jury convicted Marvin Gabrion for the 1997 murder of Rachel Timmerman.

    Since her body was found in a lake in a national forest in Newaygo County the case was tried in federal court, meaning the death penalty was an option.

    Now Gabrion's attorney is raising several issues, including his mental health.

    Wednesday a federal appeals court in Cincinnati will hear those arguments.

    Source

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    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    USA v. Gabrion

    DETROIT — A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a death sentence for a western Michigan man who was convicted of drowning a young woman in a remote lake to prevent her from pursuing a rape case against him.

    The court upheld Marvin Gabrion's conviction, but said the sentencing phase of his extraordinary 2002 trial in Grand Rapids federal court must start from scratch.

    Gabrion's lawyers should have been allowed to tell jurors that he would not have faced a possible death sentence if prosecuted in state court because Michigan doesn't allow capital punishment, the appeals court said.

    U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell barred Gabrion's defense team from making that pitch during the sentencing phase. It may not have made a difference in the ultimate result, but the appeals court said it's a legitimate argument to make to jurors, who unanimously chose the death penalty.

    Rachel Timmerman's body was found in a lake in the Manistee National Forest in Newaygo County in 1997. The U.S. attorney's office had jurisdiction because the victim was found in a portion of the lake that is federal property.

    During the sentencing phase, prosecutors blamed Gabrion for the disappearance of four other people, including Timmerman's daughter. The body of one, Wayne Davis, was found floating in another lake a few months after the trial. No charges have been filed.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c...,2769967.story

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    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Gabrion juror: 'I did the right thing'

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - At first, Betty Douglas didn't want to talk on-camera about her role as a juror in the Marvin Gabrion trial in 2002 because, she said, she didn't want to give Gabrion any more power over the people he affected many years ago.

    Those people are the Timmerman family, the Verhage family, his own family and the jurors themselves.

    On Wednesday, a federal appeals court tossed out Gabrion's death sentence because Judge Robert Holmes Bell didn't instruct the jury there was no death penalty in Michigan, that the only reason Gabrion could be sentenced to death is because it was a federal case.

    When asked how she felt about that ruling, Douglas said, "Numb...frustrated a word I was thinking I felt (Wednesday.)"

    She still believes he killed Rachel Timmerman -- tied her up in chains and threw her in a lake on federal land while she was still alive. And she stands by her decision that Gabrion deserved the death penalty.

    "I knew when I left that courtroom it was the hardest thing I had ever done, to sign my name to that line to have somebody put to death," she told 24 Hour News 8. "However, I knew and I walked away and I still believe to this day that I did the right thing."

    She's angry that Gabrion gets another shot at a new sentence.

    "It's way too long and it's unfortunate that the taxpayers have to continue to pay for all this and that he continues to just keep mixing it up," she said. "He continues to be in the limelight and he doesn't deserve to be there. He deserves to be where he's at, and like I said in 2002, he deserves to die for what he did. And that's probably not going to happen."

    http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local...he-right-thing

    Opinion

    Calabrese: Court out of order


    By Dan Calabrese
    The Michigan View.com

    It's always dangerous territory when a non-lawyer tries to critique a judge's legal ruling. But I love to live dangerously, so let's consider the odd decision that came down on Wednesday concerning the murder conviction of Marvin Gabrion.

    Gabrion received the death penalty for the 1997 murder of 19-year-old Rachel Timmerman, along with Timmerman's infant daughter. Timmerman's body was found in Michigan's Manistee National Forest, making it a federal murder case, and thereby making Gabrion eligible for the death penalty because he was convicted of a federal crime and sentenced by a federal judge.

    By the way, Gabrion killed Timmerman while awaiting trial for raping her. Just thought you might be interested to know that. He also handcuffed her, chained her, weighed her down with cinder blocks and threw her in a lake.

    But enough about the crime. Let's get back to the sentencing.

    This week an appeals court ruled that during the sentencing phase, the trial judge, Robert Holmes Bell, should have allowed defense attorneys to plead for mercy by arguing that if Timmerman's body had been found 227 feet away, it would not have been on federal land and it would have been a state case. The idea here is that, since Michigan doesn't have the death penalty in state cases, Gabrion shouldn't have been subjected to it just because the poor guy made a bad guess and dumped his victim on federal land.

    Because Judge Bell did not allow that line of argument, the appeals court threw out the sentence.

    Now you have to understand, I am not pro-death penalty. It's fine with me if Gabrion spends many decades in prison instead of just one. But I am pro-sensible applications of the law, and that doesn't seem like what we're getting here.

    Presumably Judge Bell disallowed the "227 feet" plea because it would have represented the sort of argument that is built on irrelevancies. Inside Manistee National Forest, the federal government has jurisdiction. Outside the forest, it doesn't. Was Timmerman found inside or outside? Inside. End of story. Maybe Gabrion's lawyer would like to tell juries not to convict certain clients of certain crimes, because if they had done the same thing in the next county over, the matter would have been treated differently.

    Bell clearly did not want the jury to be influenced by a hypothetical that had no basis in the law. That's consistent with what juries are supposed to do all the time in criminal cases. They receive very explicit instructions from judges on what to consider and what to disregard based on what the law says.

    The law says it doesn't matter if the perimeter of Manistee National Forest was only 227 feet from where Rachel Timmerman's body was found. It only matters that her body was found inside that perimeter. If-then statements that have no basis in the law, let alone in reality, should not be part of the decision-making process.

    This doesn't mean I disagree with Michigan's decision not to impose the death penalty in criminal cases. It just means I recognize that Michigan's law can no more supersede federal law than can that of any other state. And that's what Gabrion's lawyers were really trying to assert - that because Michigan has no death penalty, the federal government should not have been allowed to impose it in a federal case within Michigan's boundaries.

    That's not how the law works. Too bad no one told the appeals court.

    http://detnews.com/article/20110805/...#ixzz1U8pBQSaK

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    Feds in Grand Rapids have until Sept. 16 to decide whether to appeal death penalty decision

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids have until Sept. 16 to decide whether to appeal a decision that overturned a rare death sentence.

    An appeals court set the deadline Tuesday, about a week after one of its three-judge panels threw out the death penalty for Marvin Gabrion.

    In 2002, Gabrion was convicted of drowning a woman in a national forest. The jury sentenced him to death, an option in federal court.

    But the appeals court says the sentencing phase needs to start over. In a 2-1 decision, the court said defense lawyers should have been able to argue that Gabrion would not have faced a death sentence if the case had been prosecuted in state court.

    The government's options include asking the full appeals court to look at the case.

    http://www.therepublic.com/view/stor...eath-Sentence/

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    US still wants death penalty for western Mich. man

    Prosecutors want a federal appeals court to reinstate a death sentence for a western Michigan man convicted of drowning a woman in a national forest.

    The U.S. attorney's office asked the full appeals court on Friday to set aside a decision that overturned the federal death penalty for Marvin Gabrion (GAY'-bree-un).

    It's rare for the appeals court to upset the work of one of its three-judge panels.

    In 2002, Gabrion was convicted of killing a Newaygo County woman who had accused him of rape. In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court recently threw out his death sentence. It said there were too many restrictions on the defense during the penalty phase of the trial in Grand Rapids federal court.

    http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/index...3677b3116806e5
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    Appeals court to revisit Mich. death penalty case

    DETROIT (AP) A federal appeals court has thrown out a decision that overturned a rare death sentence for a western Michigan man convicted of killing a woman in a national forest.

    The new ruling Thursday means the full appeals court in Cincinnati will start over and take another look at Marvin Gabrion's case.

    In 2002, a jury in Grand Rapids sentenced Gabrion to death for killing a woman who'd accused him of rape. Her body was found in a lake in the Manistee National Forest, which qualified the case for federal court and a possible death sentence.

    In September, a panel at the appeals court said the sentencing phase should start from scratch because Gabrion's lawyers weren't allowed to talk about the state ban on capital punishment.

    http://www.9and10news.com/Category/S...d=310601&cID=2

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    Murderer Marvin Gabrion's latest day in court

    Does Marvin Gabrion deserve to be executed for murder? The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is now weighing that question. They heard arguments this week. A decision is a month or two away.

    The Jury in his case felt he should be executed. Prosecutors say he tied up Rachael Timmerman and then dropped her into a remote lake in the Manistee National Forest bound in chains so she would drown. They claimed he had raped her and she planned to testify against him so he killed her.

    Officials believe he may be responsible for the disappearance of 4 others, including Timmermans infant daughter.

    Michigan doesnt execute killers, but because he chose a national forest, it became a federal offense, and they do have the death penalty. His attorneys argued that he should have been tried in a Michigan Court or at least the Jury should have been informed of the differences.

    A 3-Judge appellate panel agreed, but the full Appellate Court set that decision aside and scheduled Wednesdays hearing. The case may eventually wind up at the Supreme Court.

    http://whtc.com/news/articles/2012/j...-day-in-court/
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    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v MARVIN CHARLES GABRION II

    Appeals court affirms rare Michigan death sentence

    An appeals court on Tuesday upheld the rare federal death sentence of a western Michigan man who was convicted of killing a woman in a national forest in 1997 before she could testify against him in a rape case.

    Michigan outlawed the death penalty in 1846. But the victim was killed on federal property, which put the case in federal court and allowed the government to seek a death sentence for Marvin Gabrion.

    Gabrion was accused of killing Rachel Timmerman, whose body was found bound with chains and cinder blocks in a lake in the Manistee National Forest in Newaygo County. His conviction and sentence were affirmed, 12-4, by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    A key part of Gabrions appeal was that his attorneys were barred from making certain argument to jurors during the sentencing phase in 2002. They couldnt try to sway the jury against death by saying he would only face a life sentence if the trial had been in state court.

    But the appeals court said Michigans lack of a certain punishment is not a mitigating factor to argue in a death penalty case.

    After 11 days of testimony and two days of careful deliberation, the 12 jurors who sat on this case decided unanimously that Marvin Gabrion deserved a sentence of death for what he did to Rachel Timmerman. We have no basis to set aside that moral judgment, the court said.

    In dissent, Judge Karen Nelson Moore said Gabrions attorneys should have been allowed to argue that the location of the murder was significant. She noted that the body was very close to being outside the national forest and outside of federal jurisdiction by just a distance roughly the length of a hockey rink.

    Not every juror would be softened by that fact, but some may have chosen life in prison instead of the death penalty after convicting Gabrion, Moore said.

    Prosecutors have blamed Gabrion for the disappearance of four other people, including Timmermans daughter, Shannon, who was about a year old in 1997. The body of one of the missing, Wayne Davis, was found floating in another lake a few months after the trial. No charges have been filed.

    Gabrion, 59, is in federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

    http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/v...death-sentence
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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    In today's United States Supreme Court orders, Gabrion's petition for writ of certiorari was DENIED.

    Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    Case Nos.: (02-1386, 02-1461, 02-1570)
    Decision Date: May 28, 2013

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.a...es/13-7132.htm

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