Saturday, July 4, 2009

Florida Supreme Court hears case of condemned South Florida killer

From Broward Circuit Court

Florida Supreme Court hears case of condemned South Florida killer

By Tonya Alanez South Florida Sun Sentinel
10:44 AM EDT, July 1, 2009,0,2641225.story

John Richard Marek, 47, during a recent court appearance before Broward Circuit Judge Peter Weinstein. (Lou Toman, File / May 7, 2009)

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court again this morning heard an attorney for a Death Row inmate make a plea for his client's life.

John Richard Marek, 47, is under an active death warrant for the 1983 murder of a woman whose strangled and raped body was found in a Dania Beach lifeguard shack.

Attorney Martin McClain argued that because Marek's co-defendant, Raymond Wigley, received a life sentence for his part in the crime, Marek should as well.

The state's high court in May indefinitely postponed Marek's execution for the slaying of Adela Marie Simmons, 45, a Barry University administrator.

Marek and Wigley had picked her up on Florida's Turnpike where her car broke down.

Since the postponement, two Broward Circuit Court judges have held separate hearings and listened to testimony from prison inmates who said Wigley, told them he, not Marek, was the actual strangler.

Wigley was murdered in prison in 2000 while serving his life sentence.

The Broward Circuit judges, Peter Weinstein and Jeffrey Levenson, both rejected the inmates' testimony as hearsay and declined to recommend a new trial or sentencing for Marek.

McClain argued that the testimony from the six inmates should be taken into account."It becomes muddled as to who did what," McClain said.

"If it's fifty-fifty, they [Marek and Wigley] should get the same sentence."

Arguing on behalf of the state, Carolyn Snurkowsi, of the Attorney General's Office, urged the justices to affirm the Broward judges' findings that the new witnesses were not credible.

The record shows, she said, that Marek was the one who approached the victim, did all the talking and offered a ride for help."

Mr. Marek was the more dominant one and nothing, nothing about these six witnesses changes that," Snurkowski said. "Mr. Marek was the one who set the process in motion."

The final say is now up to the Florida Supreme Court.

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