Federal Court Throws Out Death Sentence In Michigan Murder Case

In a significant death penalty case, a Michigan federal appeals court has thrown out a death sentence imposed on Marvin Gabrion who was convicted in 1997 for murder. Gabrion was then sentenced to death by the federal District Court.

Gabrion’s post-conviction appeal decision marks the second time in a year that a federal court has spared an individual from the death penalty after the U.S. government has sought capital punishment.

In Gabrion’s case, the issue of trial error led to the sentence being thrown out. Here, because the crime at issue occurred in a Manistee county national park, federal law applied and Gabrion faced possible execution as a penalty. However, because Michigan is not a death penalty state, Gabrion would not have received a death sentence if the crime had occurred outside of the park. On appeal, the federal court determined that the District Court had erred when it refused to allow arguments to the jury pointing out the significant difference in penalties and the injustice in imposing a death sentence because the crime occurred on federal property rather than state. As a result of the appellate court decision, Gabrion has been spared execution.

Gabrion’s case was the first time a judge had imposed the federal death penalty in Michigan.


Where individuals have been convicted of criminal offenses in federal or state court, they have the right to appeal their conviction to the highest level. At Grabel & Associates, advocacy does not end at sentencing. Our experienced Michigan appellate attorneys have significant experience handling appeals for people convicted of both federal and state crimes throughout the state.

For more information or if you need an aggressive and dedicated criminal law attorney to appeal your case, contact the Michigan criminal appeals attorneys at Grabel & Associates for an immediate consultation.

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