2002 death sentence stands; full federal court to hear appeal

Nov 18, 2011

Another chapter has been added to a case of a Michigan man fighting the death penalty.

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a decision made last August by a three-judge panel to overturn the 2002 death sentence of Marvin Gabrion.

The panel said the jury should have been told about Michigan’s longstanding ban on capital punishment.

According Donald A. Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, the federal court vacated the panel’s opinion and redocketed Gabrion’s case, which means the death penalty stands.

The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear the case.

Gabrion was convicted in the 1997 murder of Rachel Timmerman.

Gabrion had been accused of raping Timmerman, and she was preparing to testify against him.

Her body, weighted with cinder blocks, was found in a West Michigan lake in the Manistee National Forest.

Timmerman’s baby daughter, Shannon, was never found.

Michigan does not have capital punishment, but because Timmerman’s body was found on federal land, Gabrion received the death penalty.

Gabrion has also been blamed for the disappearance of three men, but was never tried in those cases.