Temporary Stay of Execution Issued for Former Escort Service Owner Convicted in Killings of 2 Florida Women | NBC4 Washington
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Temporary Stay of Execution Issued for Former Escort Service Owner Convicted in Killings of 2 Florida Women

Marshall Lee Gore had been scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m.



    (Published Monday, June 24, 2013)

    A temporary stay of execution was granted for a man who had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison on Monday.

    Marshall Lee Gore, 49, who was convicted of killing two women 25 years ago, had been scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. for the 1988 slaying of one of his victims, 30-year-old exotic dancer Robyn Novick.

    But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals approved a motion filed by Gore's attorney less than two hours before the procedure was expected to begin.

    A hearing will be held on Thursday.

    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, the former owner of a South Florida escort service, was convicted for the killing of Novick – whose naked body was found in a rural part of Miami-Dade County – and he was also sentenced to die for the 1988 slaying of Susan Roark, whose body was found a few months later in Columbia County in northern Florida.

    Another exotic dancer testified that she was beaten with a rock, choked, raped and stabbed and left for dead. She was attacked two days after Novick disappeared.

    The Catholic Church opposes Gore's execution. About 40 people attended a prayer vigil that the Archdiocese of Miami held for Gore, his victims Novick and Roark and their families on Monday. The vigil was held after a regularly scheduled midday Mass at St. Martha Church on Biscayne Boulevard.

    “How do you teach someone that killing is wrong by doing the very act that we are condemning?” said Joan Crown, director of the Catholic organization Respect Life.

    Florida's bishops petitioned Gov. Rick Scott to commute the death penalty for Gore and two others on death row.

    “The greatest sadness is for we as a people. We are trying to teach others that you do not kill, yet we are killing,” Crown said.

    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.

    In 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 given 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.

    Two executions have been held in Florida in the past month.

    On June 12, the state executed William Van Poyck for the 1987 murder of a prison guard during a botched attempt to free another inmate.

    On May 29, Elmer Carroll was executed for the 1990 rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.