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Mark Newton SPOTZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Parricide - Family argument - Carjackings
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: January 31-February 2, 1995
Date of arrest: February 3, 1995
Date of birth: February 14, 1971
Victims profile: His brother Dustin Spotz / June Rose Ohlinger, 52 / Penny L. Gunnet, 41 / Betty Amstutz, 71
Method of murder: Shooting (9 mm pistol)
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on April 24, 1996
 
 

 

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

 

opinion J-107-2002

 
 

 
 

A cross-state spree murderer Mark Newton Spotz, executed three women in three counties in three days while on the run in 1995 after killing his brother.

All three women were killed during carjackings --Penny Gunnet of New Salem, June Rose Ohlinger of Schuylkill County and Betty Amstutz of Cumberland County -- and Spotz was sentenced to death for their killings.


Mark Newton Spotz, 38, was sentenced April 24, 1996, for the Feb. 2, 1995, shooting death of Penny Gunnet, 41, of New Salem, his third victim in a four-day crime spree through central and eastern Pennsylvania.

Spotz also received death sentences for the murders of June Rose Ohlinger, 52, of Schuylkill County, and Betty Amstutz, 71, of Cumberland County. An execution warrant for the York County conviction was signed by Ridge in 2001. He received a stay in the Gunnet murder in 2001 and that case is on appeal in York County court.


Mark Spotz, 35, had exhausted all his state appeals in the killings of his brother and three women during a two-day spree that spanned three counties.

Spotz shot his brother Dustin to death during a fight at their mother's Clearfield County home on Jan. 31, 1995, then fled, killing three women within 48 hours in Schuylkill, York and Cumberland counties before surrendering to police in a Middlesex Twp. motel room.

He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in his brother's slaying and sentenced to death for murdering the three women. The last of his victims was retired Lutheran deaconess Betty Amstutz of Harrisburg, whom he killed in Cumberland County. He also killed Penny Gunnet of North Codorus Twp., York County and June Ohlinger of Schuylkill County.


Mark Spotz seeking new hearing

Convicted killer's lawyer claims district attorney used fear to sway the jury during 1996 sentencing hearing.

York Daily Record

July 24, 2007

An attorney for convicted spree killer and death row inmate Mark Newton Spotz argued Monday that District Attorney Stan Rebert used religion and fear to sway Spotz's jury to issue the death penalty in 1996.

In an attempt to preclude the need for a hearing in September, Spotz's attorneys asked a York County judge - without the benefit of evidence or testimony - to order a new penalty hearing.

Spotz was convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal 1995 carjacking of Penny L. Gunnet, 41, of York New Salem. He also was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for killing June Rose Ohlinger, 52, of Schuylkill County, and Betty Amstutz, 71, of Cumberland County during the same 48-hour period in February 1995. Those killings were preceded by Spotz shooting and killing his brother, Dustin Spotz, during a family argument.

Spotz, now 36, was not present at Monday's hearing in York County Common Pleas Court before Judge John S. Kennedy, and no evidence was presented to support assistant federal defender Robert Dunham's claims about Rebert.

Dunham offered examples Monday of "religious" references Rebert allegedly used during Spotz's penalty phase.

He noted Rebert said in his closing argument: "Did Mark Spotz have a troubled childhood? I don't know that the commonwealth would dispute that. But the commonwealth believes that when Dustin Spotz was killed inClearfield County and when June Ohlinger and Penny Gunnet were murdered,  Mark Spotz became a man and put away childish things."

Dunham also noted that, when Spotz's grandmother sought leniency from the jury, Rebert commented: "Are you at all familiar with the Ten Commandments?"

Dunham said Rebert also told the jury that Spotz had committed three burglaries and advised them, "One of the most frightening things that can happen - a man intruding into your home." Dunham said Rebert failed to inform the jury that the three homes were empty at the time they were burglarized.

Dunham also said Rebert made a "blind inflammatory assertion" that Gunnet's family demanded the death penalty, and that Spotz would be a danger to society in the future if he received anything less than the death penalty.

"Attorney Rebert was looking for a retaliatory death," Dunham said. "He repeatedly asked the jury to return a vindictive verdict. He said, 'What we are asking you to do is to show him the same respect he showed to ... Penny Gunnet.'"

Rebert was not at Monday's hearing.

Deputy Attorney General Jennifer A. Buck argued the defense presented no case law or statute that supported the request for a new penalty hearing. She advised the court that it could grant an evidentiary hearing on the argument. (One is scheduled for September.) But, she said, there was "no basis (Monday) for the relief the defense is requesting."

Kennedy deferred ruling on the argument.


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA
EASTERN DISTRICT

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee,

v.

MARK NEWTON SPOTZ, Appellant.

ARGUED: November 15, 1999
DECIDED: October 20, 2000

OPINION
MR. JUSTICE CASTILLE

This is a direct appeal from a sentence of death imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County. Following a capital jury trial, which commenced on May 9, 1996, appellant was convicted of first-degree murder. At the penalty phase, the jury found three aggravating circumstances and two mitigating circumstances, and also found that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances; accordingly, it returned a sentence of death.

Post-verdict motions were denied and the trial court imposed the death penalty. For the reasons set forth below, we now affirm the conviction and judgment of sentence.

Although appellant has not challenged the sufficiency of the evidence, this Court performs a self-imposed duty to review the sufficiency of the evidence underlying the first-degree murder conviction in capital cases. See Commonwealth v. Zettlemoyer, 500 Pa.16, 26-27 n. 3, 454 A.2d 937, 942 n.3 (1982), cert. denied, 461 U.S. 970, reh. denied, 463 U.S. 1236 (1983).

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we must determine whether the evidence admitted at trial, and all reasonable inferences derived therefrom, when viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth as the verdict winner, supports the jury's finding of all of the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. See
Commonwealth v. Rhodes, 510 Pa. 537, 539-40, 510 A.2d 1217, 1218 (1986).

Evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction of first-degree murder where the Commonwealth establishes that the defendant acted with the specific intent to kill, that a human being was unlawfully killed, that the person accused did the killing, and that the killing was done with premeditation or deliberation. See 18 Pa.C.S. 2502(d); Commonwealth v. Mitchel , 528 Pa. 546, 550, 599 A.2d 624, 626 (1991). A specific intent to kill may be proven by circumstantial evidence; it may be inferred by the use of a deadly weapon upon a vital part of the victim's body. Commonwealth v. Bond, 539 Pa. 299, 305, 652 A.2d 308, 311 (1995).

The evidence adduced at trial showed that on February 2, 1995, appellant, who was on the run after committing multiple homicides in other Pennsylvania counties, arrived in Harrisburg and unsuccessfully attempted to sell rings stolen from one of his previous victims to his friend, Juan Maldonado.

Appellant told Maldonado that he was wanted on a homicide charge in Schuylkill County and that his gun was "dropping them like flies."

After leaving Maldonado, and sometime before 4:00 p.m., appellant abducted the elderly Betty Amstutz at or near her home in Harrisburg. Over the next few hours, appellant drove to various places with Ms. Amstutz being held hostage, obtaining money, clothing, and lodging by use of her credit card and checking account.

Thus, at 3:59 p.m. a bank employee in Harrisburg, cashed a $500 check for Ms. Amstutz, who was accompanied by appellant. A bank security camera filmed the transaction. At approximately 5 p.m. an employee of a sporting goods store in Cumberland County, sold appellant and Ms. Amstutz $262.05 worth of Orlando Magic products, which were purchased with a credit card belonging to Ms. Amstutz.

At 5:26 p.m. an employee of a Camp Hill bank, cashed another check in the amount of $1,139.95 for appellant and Ms. Amstutz. A bank security camera filmed that transaction as well. Finally, at 6:04 p.m., Ms. Amstutz and appellant checked into the Knight's Inn in Carlisle, Pennsylvania using Ms. Amstutz's credit card.

Shortly thereafter, at approximately 6:30 p.m. a woman and her daughter were driving on McClures Gap Road in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where they saw a white male standing near a car matching the description of the vehicle owned by Ms. Amstutz. The car was parked at the location where Ms. Amstutz's lifeless body was discovered the next day.

Later that evening, appellant and a friend, Charles Carothers, invited Michelle Rhinehart, the mother of appellant's two children, to join appellant in his room at the Knight's Inn in Carlisle. There, appellant, Carothers and Rhinehart smoked crack cocaine purchased by appellant. Appellant then gave $200 cash to Rhinehart and gave Ms. Amstutz's car to Carothers. Carothers left Rhinehart and appellant in the hotel room and drove in Ms. Amstutz's car to the apartment of Rhinehart's sister and her friend.

The next morning, an employee of a tree service accidentally discovered Ms. Amstutz's body on the side of McClures Gap Road and contacted local authorities. Police investigated the scene and broadcast information concerning Ms. Amstutz's missing
vehicle.

Later that morning, Rhinehart's sister and her friend were en route to the Knight's Inn to pick up Rhinehart and appellant, at Carothers' request. The police stopped them because their vehicle matched the description of Ms. Amstutz's vehicle. Police learned from the two women that appellant was staying at the Knight's Inn.

Thereafter, a police team surrounded appellant's hotel room and, after a lengthy standoff, appellant finally tossed his silver nine-millimeter semiautomatic pistol outside of the hotel room, surrendered and was arrested.

A subsequent search of the hotel room yielded a pair of bloodstained jeans, a knife, nine-millimeter full metal jacket ammunition, and five credit cards issued in the name of one of appellant's previous murder victims, Penny Gunnet.

In addition, a note written by appel ant was recovered, which itemized the money appellant had stolen and his expenditures on crack cocaine and other purchases.

At the bottom of the note, appellant had written, "a good day's work."

An autopsy performed on Ms. Amstutz showed that she had been shot nine times, including one lethal shot through the neck and another lethal shot to the head. A ballistics test showed that the ful metal jacket bullets recovered at the scene of the murder and from Ms. Amstutz's body matched appellant's handgun.

Furthermore, appellant's fingerprints were found on Ms. Amstutz's vehicle and an analysis of blood found on appellant's shoe was consistent with Ms. Amstutz's blood.

Christina Noland established the chain of events that led to appel ant's presence in Harrisburg and his motive for abducting and executing Ms. Amstutz. On January 31, 1995, Noland and appellant had fled from appellant's mother's home in Clearfield County after appellant had shot his brother, Dustin, during a family fight.

In need of a vehicle to escape, appellant and Noland abducted June Ohlinger in Schuylkill County, stole her car and later murdered her. The two then fled to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in Ohlinger's car, where they attempted to alter their appearances.

Noland and appellant then returned to York County, Pennsylvania, where they abducted Penny Gunnet, stole her car, and murdered her. Following this murder, Noland and appel ant became separated and Noland returned to the home of a friend.

The foregoing evidence overwhelmingly supports the jury's finding that Ms. Amstutz was unlawfully killed, that appellant committed the killing, that appellant acted with the specific intent to kill when he shot Ms. Amstutz nine times, and that the killing was done
with premeditation and deliberation.

We now proceed to address appellant's allegations of error...

Accordingly, we affirm the verdict and sentence of death imposed upon appellant by the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County.


SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: PC-nonspecific

MO: Shot brother and three women age 41-71, in fourcounty rampage

DISPOSITION: 17-30 years for manslaughter on one count; condemned on three others.



In 1995, Mark Spotz spits during his arrest after a killing spree, which started after an argument over a gerbil.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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