Marquardt v. State, No. SC12–555.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation156 So.3d 464
PartiesBill Paul MARQUARDT, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. SC12–555.
Decision Date22 January 2015

156 So.3d 464

Bill Paul MARQUARDT, Appellant
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.

No. SC12–555.

Supreme Court of Florida.

Jan. 22, 2015.
Rehearing Denied April 17, 2015.


156 So.3d 469

James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Michael S. Becker, Assistant Public Defender, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, FL, for Appellant.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, for Appellee.

Opinion

PER CURIAM.

Bill Paul Marquardt appeals his convictions and death sentences for the March 2000 first-degree murders of Margarita Ruiz and Esperanza “Hope” Wells. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const. For the reasons that follow, we affirm Marquardt's convictions and death sentences.

We also reaffirm our commitment to the principles and procedures articulated in Muhammad v. State, 782 So.2d 343 (Fla.2001), that require a trial court to consider mitigation evidence even when the defendant

156 So.3d 470

waives mitigation. However, recognizing the tension that may exist when a trial court appoints standby counsel to present mitigation evidence in these circumstances, as was done in this case, we prospectively modify the Muhammad procedures to the limited extent that trial courts should utilize an independent, special counsel—rather than standby counsel—to represent the public interest in bringing forth all available mitigation for the benefit of the jury, the trial court, and this Court.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Florida Murders

On March 15, 2000, Ruiz and her adult daughter, Wells, were at their house in Sumter County, Florida. That morning, Ruiz's daughter-in-law brought her one-year-old son and three-year-old daughter to the house. When Ruiz's daughter-in-law departed, she exited through a screen door at the back of the house, which Wells then latched.

Later that day, two Sumter County deputies went to the house in response to a 911 call from Wells's husband, who asked the sheriff's department to attempt to make contact with anyone in the house. When the deputies arrived, they discovered that the screen door at the back of the house was open. The deputies proceeded through the house and discovered the bodies of Ruiz and Wells inside a bedroom. The children, who were hiding under the dining room table, were the only survivors.

Subsequently, the sheriff's department requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) respond to the house to process the crime scene. The FDLE crime scene technician noted that the latch to the screen door at the back of the house had been broken. He also discovered fired cartridge cases on the back porch area of the house, as well as blood and a bullet hole in the freezer door. A bullet was embedded inside the freezer. The FDLE technician concluded that at least one bullet was fired into the house from outside and that the bullet found in the freezer struck a person before it lodged in the freezer.

The medical examiner reconstructed the manner in which Ruiz and Wells were killed based on their injuries and the evidence found at the house. Ruiz was shot twice while in the kitchen. The bullet that was found in the freezer had first penetrated her chest. She was shot a second time while she stood in front of the back screen door. The bullet grazed her thumb and then punctured her chest, which indicated that her arm was raised in front of her chest at the time she was shot. Ruiz then fled the kitchen, ran through the dining room and living room, and was shot a third time in the back as she fled into a bedroom. The bullet passed through her spinal cord, causing her to collapse. She was then stabbed in the neck. She died from multiple gunshot wounds, with a contributory factor of sharp force injuries to the neck.

Wells, found in the bedroom next to her mother's body, had been shot once in the head from a distance of less than eighteen inches. The injury would have caused her to feel faint and collapse in seconds, quickly rendering her unconscious and causing her death. After Wells was shot, she was stabbed in the neck eight times.

An officer who had responded to the scene took the children outside and asked the three-year-old girl if she knew who had committed the crime. She stated that she did not know but responded, in part, that the killer left in a green car.

The FDLE collected DNA and latent palm print evidence from the house. A

156 So.3d 471

DNA swab taken from the living room revealed a mixed DNA profile that contained DNA from at least three individuals. Two of the three profiles matched Ruiz and Wells. The DNA of the third individual could not be identified at the time. Additionally, a latent palm print was retrieved from a countertop in the kitchen, which also could not be identified.

The investigation into the murders then became dormant until June 2006, when the Sumter County Sheriff's Office received information regarding a separate murder investigation in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin law enforcement had investigated the murder of Mary Marquardt, who was killed on March 13, 2000, two days before Ruiz and Wells were murdered, and the investigation eventually led to Bill Paul Marquardt being charged with the murder of his mother, Mary. Other than the evidence obtained from Wisconsin law enforcement during their investigation, the murder of Mary Marquardt apparently is unrelated to the murders of Ruiz and Wells.

During their investigation, Wisconsin law enforcement performed DNA testing on items obtained from Marquardt. The testing revealed DNA from two individuals who they could not identify, but determined to be related females who were most likely mother and daughter. When Marquardt was acquitted of the murder of Mary, a Wisconsin attorney involved in the case sought to identify the women whose DNA was discovered on the items obtained from Marquardt. His research revealed the unsolved murders of Ruiz and Wells, and he contacted Sumter County law enforcement. The previously unidentified DNA from the items obtained from Marquardt in Wisconsin matched that of Ruiz and Wells.

Marquardt was subsequently indicted for the first-degree murders of Ruiz and Wells and for burglary of a dwelling with a firearm. At the time, Marquardt was incarcerated in a Wisconsin mental health facility pursuant to a guilty verdict for animal cruelty charges in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Investigation

The majority of the evidence that connects Marquardt to the murders of Ruiz and Wells was obtained in a series of searches by Wisconsin law enforcement officials in the unrelated murder investigation of Mary Marquardt. On March 15, 2000, the same day as the Florida murders, Wisconsin law enforcement obtained a warrant to search Marquardt's cabin, located in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin. During the search, officers found dead animals, which led them to obtain a warrant for Marquardt's arrest for animal cruelty. On March 18, 2000, Marquardt was arrested at his cabin. He was searched incident to his arrest, and a folding knife was retrieved from his pocket. Officers subsequently collected the clothing he was wearing at the time of the arrest, which included black jeans, a black shirt, a denim jacket, and tennis shoes.

The clothing and the knife were tested for DNA. A mixed DNA profile from three individuals was found on the jacket. Marquardt was determined to be a possible contributor, along with two unidentified females, who were labeled as unidentified individuals one and two. The likelihood of the mixed profile on the jacket coming from individuals other than Marquardt and unidentified individuals one and two was determined to be one in eighty sextillion. A mixed DNA profile from at least three individuals was also found on the pocket knife, again with Marquardt as a possible contributor, along with unidentified individuals one and two. The likelihood of the mixed profile on the knife coming from individuals other than Marquardt and unidentified individuals one and two was determined

156 So.3d 472

also to be one in eighty sextillion. A shoe recovered from Marquardt was found to have DNA from a single-source profile that matched unidentified individual one. Further DNA testing revealed that the two unidentified individuals were related females, most likely mother and daughter.

The Wisconsin investigation revealed that Marquardt traveled from Valdosta, Georgia, to Long Key, Florida, in his green Ford Thunderbird between March 14 and March 15, 2000, the latter date being the date of the Ruiz and Wells murders. Marquardt maintained a storage unit in Valdosta in which he stored his green Ford Thunderbird. The storage facility required a person to input a unit-specific gate code to enter and exit the property. The code assigned to Marquardt was used on March 14, 2000, to enter and exit the facility.1 When the storage unit was later searched, a red Mercury Tracer was in the unit rather than a green Ford Thunderbird. Therefore, it appears that on March 14, 2000, Marquardt entered the storage unit and removed his green Thunderbird, leaving the red Tracer. When the Thunderbird was searched after...

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29 practice notes
  • Lawrence v. State, No. SC18-2061
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 29, 2020
    ...and voluntary. The trial court ordered a presentence investigation and appointed special counsel pursuant to Marquardt v. State , 156 So. 3d 464 (Fla. 2015), to assist it in considering available mitigation.Thereafter, following the State's penalty-phase presentation and special counsel's p......
  • State v. Riley, No. CR-15-0411-AP
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • March 10, 2020
    ...comprehensive reports of potentially mitigating evidence when a defendant refuses to present his own mitigation. See Marquardt v. State , 156 So. 3d 464, 491 (Fla. 2015). But we rejected a similar argument in Hausner , refusing to follow the decisions of a minority of courts that held that ......
  • Davis v. State, No. SC13–1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 10, 2016
    ...mitigating circumstances).Moreover, Davis's case is also proportionate to other cases involving double murders. See Marquardt v. State, 156 So.3d 464 (Fla.) (death sentence upheld where the trial court weighed four aggravating circumstances as to one victim and three as to the second victim......
  • Cruz v. State, SC20-60
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 1, 2021
    ...murders can qualify as HAC if the events preceding the death "cause the victim fear, emotional strain, and terror." Marquardt v. State , 156 So. 3d 464, 488 (Fla. 2015). To support HAC, "the evidence must show that the victim was conscious and aware of impending death." King v. State , 130 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Lawrence v. State, No. SC18-2061
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • October 29, 2020
    ...and voluntary. The trial court ordered a presentence investigation and appointed special counsel pursuant to Marquardt v. State , 156 So. 3d 464 (Fla. 2015), to assist it in considering available mitigation.Thereafter, following the State's penalty-phase presentation and special counsel's p......
  • State v. Riley, No. CR-15-0411-AP
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • March 10, 2020
    ...comprehensive reports of potentially mitigating evidence when a defendant refuses to present his own mitigation. See Marquardt v. State , 156 So. 3d 464, 491 (Fla. 2015). But we rejected a similar argument in Hausner , refusing to follow the decisions of a minority of courts that held that ......
  • Davis v. State, No. SC13–1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 10, 2016
    ...mitigating circumstances).Moreover, Davis's case is also proportionate to other cases involving double murders. See Marquardt v. State, 156 So.3d 464 (Fla.) (death sentence upheld where the trial court weighed four aggravating circumstances as to one victim and three as to the second victim......
  • Cruz v. State, SC20-60
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 1, 2021
    ...murders can qualify as HAC if the events preceding the death "cause the victim fear, emotional strain, and terror." Marquardt v. State , 156 So. 3d 464, 488 (Fla. 2015). To support HAC, "the evidence must show that the victim was conscious and aware of impending death." King v. State , 130 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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