Sunday, July 1, 2007

Attorney: Keep killer alive for study

Expert calls Schwab's bid for clemency 'lame'


Convicted murderer, pedophile and rapist Mark Dean Schwab should not be executed so he can remain a living case study, his attorney argued in a motion for clemency.

"As long as he's alive he is available for psychological research, examinations and evaluations, which could in the future prevent a person from becoming so fully mis-oriented as to commit a crime that Mr. Schwab stands guilty of today," wrote Titusville attorney Kenneth Studstill. "For that reason and only that reason clemency should be granted."

Studstill called Schwab a "scientific mystery in need of much more in-depth study." He wants to see his client's death sentence commuted to life in prison.

Dr. James Herndon, retired staff psychologist for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, called the attempt "lame."

"It's also pretty vain. It's your typical sociopathic ego," he said. "You can learn more about him by studying his past. The only person who benefits by this would be him."

Schwab was convicted in 1991 for kidnapping, raping, torturing and then killing 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez, who he tried to befriend after seeing the boy's photo in the newspaper. Schwab called the child's school pretending to be his father. He had the school relay a message to the boy to meet him at a nearby field after classes.

He was never seen alive again.

Schwab was sentenced to death for the murder.

"It never ends," said Junny's father, Junny Rios-Martinez Sr., about the wait to see his son's killer executed. "There's always something else."

The entire clemency process takes between seven and eight months. Studstill filed this motion a few months ago. It will be reviewed by the Parole Commission, which will make a recommendation to Gov. Charlie Crist.

The victim's mother, Vicki Rios-Martinez, said she has a scheduled meeting with the governor in September. She and her husband both want to see Schwab's sentence carried out.

"I think Schwab played out a life for a life. Junny was his sacrifice," she said. "He knew what he was doing."

But Studstill, citing testimony from the trial and subsequent penalty phase, argued that Schwab had little control over his actions.

"It stood unrebutted that Schwab's mental illness controlled him," he wrote. "Once the defendant acts out his fantasy the theme becomes an irresistible impulse. This is where he has the incapacity to stop. This where there are no more negative consequences."

Studstill, who did not return a phone call seeking comment, detailed what Schwab claimed was an abusive childhood where he, too, was the victim of rape. The motion describes how, as a child, Schwab would also parade around his home wearing his mother's outfits, complete with high heels and makeup.

State Attorney Norman Wolfinger said it would be fine for scientists to study Schwab -- after he is executed.

"We have sharks and whales wash up on the beach all the time and scientists can study them," he said. "I have no objection if they want to study him after he receives his injection."

Crist has yet to sign any death warrants since a moratorium on executions was lifted in May. An execution date is not set until after the death warrant is signed.

Vicki Rios-Martinez called the Studstill memorandum "frivolous" but conceded that it meant the end was now one step closer.

"What else can they ask for?" she said. "Where else can they go?"

Contact Torres at 242-3649 or

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