convicted killer of Cleveland woman
STARKE, Fla. — A former escort service owner convicted in the slayings of two women was granted a temporary stay of execution Monday, hours before he was to have received a lethal injection for one of those deaths.
Marshall Lee Gore had been scheduled to die at the Florida State Prison at 6 p.m. for the 1988 slaying of Robyn Novick, a 30-year-old exotic dancer. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals approved a motion filed by Gore’s attorney less than two hours before that.
A hearing in the case will be held Thursday.
Gore was also convicted and received a death sentence in the murder of Susan Roark of Cleveland. Tenn.
Roark was last seen alive on Jan. 30, 1988, in Cleveland. According to the case summary from the Florida Commission on Capital Casses, Gore struck up a conversation with Roark and the two left in her black Ford Mustang.
Her remains were found in Columbia County, Fla., on April 2, 1988. Forensic evidence determined the body had been placed there within hours of her death.
He was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed robbery in Roark’s death. He also received a death sentenced in Roark’s murder and a life sentence in her kidnapping.
In his emergency motion, attorney Todd Scher argued Gore’s execution would violate the Eighth Amendment, which forbids the state from carrying out a death sentence against a prisoner who is insane.
“Barring relief from this court, Marshall Gore will suffer irreparable harm — he will die,” Scher wrote. “And because he is insane, that execution will be the same sort of ‘miserable spectacle’ that prompted the Supreme Court to categorically prohibit executions of the insane.”
Gore’s attorneys have argued before that he is mentally ill. One previous lawyer claimed Gore was “mentally deranged” and not responsible for his actions. But several judges concluded he was using a claim of mental illness to manipulate the judicial process.
When asked by a judge in the Novick case if he felt competent to proceed he replied, “I’m absolutely competent. I’m absolutely lucid.” He had frequent verbal outbursts during the trial, laughed out loud and even howled.
A panel of doctors appointed by Gov. Rick Scott concluded in May that Gore was mentally competent to be executed.
The motion requesting a stay of execution, Scher cites standards from two Supreme Court decisions, one of which states the prisoner must have a “rational understanding” of the state’s justification for the execution.
Scher points out that Gore has previously indicated he believes he is being executed for “death and organ/harvesting/to be a human sacrifice of both.” He has also contended that the date of his scheduled execution, June 24, 2013, adds up to 666 and that he is a target of “Satan Worshippers who have threatened that date by mail for years.”
Scott’s panel of mental health experts interviewed Gore and reviewed 23 years of medical, mental health and corrections records. They concluded his delusions were a “fabrication designed to mislead the panel to avoid responsibility for his past actions.”
Gore’s attorney contends their review wasn’t thorough enough and didn’t disclose all relevant information to the governor.
The federal appeals court ruling that granted the stay of execution said both sides would be giving 30 minutes to make their arguments by conference call with speakers set up in a courtroom in Atlanta on Thursday. The decision also states the judges will work to ensure the matter is resolved before the warrant for Gore’s execution expires.
Novick’s body was found in a rural part of Miami-Dade County.
Gore was arrested after attacking a third woman who survived and later testified at his trial in connection with Novick’s death. The survivor said Gore beat her with a rock, choked, raped and stabbed her, leaving her near where Novick’s body was found.
The FBI tracked the woman’s stolen car to Paducah, Ky., and arrested Gore. When he was found, he had the woman’s bank and credit cards in his jacket pocket, according to court documents.
Upon questioning about all three crimes and shown pictures of Novick’s body, police said his eyes filled with tears and he said, “If I did this, I deserve the death penalty.”
Gore initially denied knowing any of the women, according to police. But he later testified that all three women worked for him at an escort service.
Florida had two executions earlier this month: William Van Poyck was put to death on June 12 for the 1987 murder of a prison guard during a botched attempt to free another inmate. On May 29, the state executed Elmer Carroll for the 1990 rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.