DeFede: Marek Granted Stay of Execution
The Florida Supreme Court has stayed the execution of convicted killer John Marek, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday.
Marek, 47, was convicted of the 1983 rape and murder of Adella Simmons, whose body was found in a lifeguard shack on Dania Beach.
Police and prosecutors contended that Marek, along with another man, Ray Wigley, abducted the 47-year-old Simmons from the Florida Turnpike after her car broke down by the side of the road.
The two men beat and raped her during the 60 mile journey to Dania Beach. When they were caught by police,
Wigley confessed, but said it was Marek who strangled Simmons. Wigley was sentenced to life in prison and Marek received the death penalty. Marek has been on death row for 25 years.
Last week, Marek's attorneys went to court to stop the execution claiming they had discovered new evidence that it was actually Wigley, who strangled Simmons.
Wigley died in prison in 2000. Ironically, he was strangled by a fellow inmate.
Last week Marek's attorney, Martin McClain, presented three former cellmates of Wigley who claimed Wigley confessed to killing Simmons. Marek's attorney argued the new evidence should result in a stay of execution and a new trial for Marek. At the very least, McClain maintained, Marek should be re-sentenced to life in prison since he wasn't the one to strangle Simmons.
The judge hearing the testimony, Broward Circuit Court Judge Peter Weinstein, issued an order early Friday evening denying Marek's request for a stay of execution.
Over the weekend, attorneys for Marek filed an emergency appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. At 8:30 a.m. Monday, the state Supreme Court issued a stay and said they wanted to hear arguments on May 20 regarding the new evidence.
"I'm very encouraged they ordered an indefinite stay and that they are taking the issues I raised seriously," McClain said.