Seventh Judicial Circuit, St.
Johns County, Case# 91-2418-CFA
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable
Trial Attorney: Garry Wood &
Howard Pearl – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: George
D. E. Burden – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:
Richard E. Kiley & James V. Viggiano – CCRC-M
Date of Offense: 06/20/91
Date of Sentence: 02/05/93
Circumstances of the Offense:
In June 1991, the victim, Stacy
Willets, and two males, John Marquard and Mike Abshire, drove from North
Carolina to Florida. They all were planning to move to Florida and were
going to share the expense by driving together.
The three were going to
use Ms. Willet’s car. Marquard and Abshire talked about killing Ms.
Willet for her car and money before the three left North Carolina.
06/20/91, Marquard told Abshire that he was going to kill Ms. Willet
that night. The motive that he gave for wanting to kill her was that he
was tired of arguing with her. The conversation took place when the
three had made a stop in South Carolina.
When the three reached St.
Augustine, Marquard and Abshire decided to lure Ms. Willet into the
woods and kill her. They got her to go with them by telling her she was
invited to a party.
They drove her to a deserted area and the three
walked into the woods. Marquard came at Ms. Willet from behind and
stabbed her. Ms. Willet ended up on her stomach on the ground. Marquard
then sat on her back; he noticed that she was still breathing, so he
pushed her face into a puddle until she quit breathing.
body then began to convulse, so Marquard again forced her face into the
puddle. Abshire began to take part in the crime by stabbing Ms. Willet’s
body. The two then attempted to severe Ms. Willet’s head from her body.
Marquard was arrested for the
murder and he confessed. He told law enforcement that he remembered only
walking into the woods and then standing over Ms. Willet’s body with a
knife, but he did not recall the crime. Abshire provided a detailed
account of the murder.
Marquard was on probation in the
state of North Carolina for larceny when the murder took place.
Michael Gene Abshire (DC#
Abshire was convicted of
First-Degree murder and Robbery with a Deadly Weapon (CC# 91-2418).
He was sentenced to life for both offenses
and is currently incarcerated by the Florida Department of Corrections.
The defendant was indicted on the following charges:
Count I: First-Degree
Count II: Armed Robbery with
a Deadly Weapon
The defendant was found guilty of all the charges in
01/15/93 The jury
recommended the sentence of death by a vote of 12-0
The defendant was sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree
Murder – Death
Count II: Armed Robbery with
a Deadly Weapon – Life
Marquard filed a Direct Appeal
to the Florida Supreme Court on 02/26/93. Marquard raised the following
claims in the appeal: the trial court erred by dismissing a
death-qualified venire person, an illegal search and seizure claim, and
an admission of irrelevant evidence. The Court found no errors and
affirmed Marquard’s conviction and sentence on 06/09/94. The rehearing
was denied on 08/23/94, and the mandate was issued on 09/22/94.
Marquard filed a Petition for
Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 11/21/94. The
petition was denied on 01/23/95.
Marquard filed a 3.850 Motion to
the Circuit Court on 03/26/97. The petition was denied on 12/22/99.
Marquard filed a 3.850 Appeal to
the Florida Supreme Court on 02/07/00. Marquard contended that his
death sentence should have been vacated because his codefendant,
Abshire, received a life sentence. He also argued that his death
sentence should be vacated because Abshire recanted his trial testimony
and claimed that he cut the victim’s throat while she was still alive.
Although the Court found that those reasons could be reason to vacate a
death sentence, they found that Marquard was the more culpable of the
two making his death sentence proportional. He also claimed that he was
denied a fair evidentiary hearing because the trial court did not allow
hearsay evidence to be heard.
The Court found there to be harmless
error in this argument. Marquard also contended that his counsel was
ineffective, which the Court also denied. The Court found Marquards’
arguments to be harmless and affirmed the denial of his 3.850 Motion on
He also filed a Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court on 07/28/00, which
was later denied on 11/21/02. The rehearing was denied on 07/15/03.
The mandate was issued on 08/14/03.
On 09/05/03, Marquard filed a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the United States District Court,
Middle District. An amended petition was filed on 10/21/03. The
petition was denied and dismissed with prejudice on 01/18/05.
On 02/11/05, Marquard filed a
Habeas Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals. On 11/10/05, the
USCA affirmed the USDC’s denial of Marquard’s Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus. The rehearing was denied on 12/27/05.
On 03/20/06, Marquard
filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme
Court, which was denied on 06/05/06.