Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Judge Sets Deadlines In Death Sentence Case

POSTED: 11:52 am EDT July 25, 2007
UPDATED: 12:36 pm EDT July 25, 2007

TITUSVILLE, Fla. -- With a death sentence and execution date looming in the case of Mark Dean Schwab, a judge Wednesday in Titusville gave attorneys a set of deadlines to try to keep the case on track.

Schwab, 38, is scheduled to be executed November 15. Schwab was sentenced to death in 1992 for the kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez of Cocoa. He targeted the boy after seeing his picture in a newspaper.

At this point, nothing is expected to delay the execution. However another death penalty case in Ocala could complicate matters a bit. But, with the death warrant signed for Schwab, his case takes priority.

Judge Charles Holcomb held a hearing Wednesday morning in his chambers with attorneys from the state and Schwab's defense attorneys in Tallahassee on the phone. Neither Schwab nor the parents of Rios-Martinez were in the room.

The judge said he called the hearing to try and set timetables for any issues that could come up.

Schwab was convicted nearly 15 years ago for the murder of Rios-Martinez. Just last week, the Governor ended a statewide moratorium on the death penalty and signed Schwab's death warrant.

The defense attorney raised two potential issues, a mental health issue that he did not elaborate on and another death penalty case in Ocala where lethal injection is being challenged.

Prosecutors can't say whether either will ultimately lead to delaying the execution.

"Until we see what is filed here at 4pm on the 13th, it's going to be difficult to say, 'Ok, what is going to be involved here before this court?'" explained assistant state attorney Wayne Holmes.

The judge also said he doesn't believe any rulings in the Ocala death penalty case will directly affect what they do in the Schwab case, especially since a death warrant has not been issued in that case.

Nevertheless, that case is being watched closely since lethal injections in Florida are under the microscope.

Schwab's lawyer recently argued his client's life should be spared so psychologists can study him to better understand pedophiles and prevent them from raping and killing children.

Schwab saw the boy's picture in a newspaper after being released from prison in March 1991 for serving three years on sexual assault charges. Schwab called the family on the phone, claiming he was writing an article on the boy.

Schwab became friendly with the family, even promising to help the boy get a contract to represent a surfing company. The boy's body was found three days after the murder.

Schwab was convicted of first-degree murder, sexual battery upon a child and kidnapping of a child under 13.

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