Monday, June 30, 2008

Update: Child killer visits relatives on eve of death


Condemned child rapist and murderer Mark Dean Schwab is visiting this afternoon with his mother and an aunt at Florida State Prison near Starke where he is set to be executed Tuesday evening.

"He's calm and he's following all instructions," said Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections.

Schwab, 39, was sentenced to death for the 1991 abduction, sexual assault and murder of Junny Rios-Martinez, 11, of Cocoa. Schwab murdered the boy about a month after getting out of prison for rape of another boy in 1987.

Schwab has a three-hour, non-contact visit from Mary Killam, his mother, and Shirley Muhs, his aunt. Both women live in Ohio, according to Department of Corrections records.

This evening Schwab will have phone contact with his attorneys, Plessinger said.

On Tuesday, Schwab will have another visit with family members. For the last hour of that three-hour visit Schwab and family will be allowed to touch each other. Schwab has put in his request for his last meal, which will be served before noon Tuesday. He has requested a religious adviser, and a Baptist minister, a state prison chaplain, is meeting with Schwab.

Schwab would be the 65th person executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. There have been no executions, however, since December 2006 when a botched lethal injection led to a state-imposed moratorium, since lifted. Schwab's scheduled November execution was delayed by a U.S. Supreme Court review of lethal injection in a Kentucky case.

Earlier story: Schwab lawyer eyes US Supreme Court


Denied by Florida courts, Mark Dean Schwab has one last appeal for his life with the US Supreme Court before Tuesday's scheduled execution.

The nation's top court issued a stay of execution in November for the child rapist and murderer, only hours before he was scheduled to die. But the court has since ruled on the constitutionality of lethal injection in a Kentucky case that opened the door for several states -- including Florida -- to resume executions.

"I have not heard that he has filed anything" with the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Sandi Copes said Sunday evening.

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court upheld a ruling by Titusville Judge Charles Holcomb denying Schwab's claims for a new hearing based on the argument that the state's lethal injection protocol may cause him pain. Separately, the U.S. District Court denied Schwab's request to file another appeal. At that point, Schwab's attorney, Peter Cannon, promised to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We never know, never know," Cannon said. "We have to file an appeal, but this is not a useless appeal."

Schwab's lawyers say Florida's methods do not meet the standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Kentucky case. They point to Department of Corrections training records that they say reveal several errors during mock executions in the past year.

They say little has changed since the botched execution of Angel Diaz in December 2006 that took twice as long as normal and caused the inmate pain.

They argue Florida's lethal injection protocol violates the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

In their rulings, both Holcomb and the Florida Supreme Court reiterated that any form of capital punishment -- no matter how humane -- may cause pain.

Schwab was sentenced to death on July 1, 1992, for the kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez of Cocoa.

The crime occurred about a month after Schwab was released from prison for raping then 13-year-old Than Meyer of Cocoa Beach in 1987.

"We will never know why he would want to hurt someone so pure and beautiful as Junny," Meyer, now 34, wrote in an e-mail to FLORIDA TODAY on Saturday. "It is too bad our families have had to suffer for so long waiting for Schwab to pay his dues. But we can all look forward after Tuesday, and try to make a new beginning, without ever forgetting Junny and what beauty and joy he brings to so many people."

Contact Torres at 242-3649 or


No comments: