Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Death Penalty for Man Convicted of 1997 Murder

In June of 1997, Marvin Gabrion allegedly abducted and killed Rachel Timmerman and her infant daughter, Shannon Verhage. Gabrion is alleged to have killed three others as well. In 2002, he was convicted of the murders in federal court and sentenced to death. Capital punishment was abolished in the state of Michigan in 1846. Gabrion appealed his sentence on the grounds that he would not have been sentenced to death if he had been tried by the state, and that his attorneys should have been permitted to reveal this information to jurors. He also argued the point that the murder of the victim did not occur on federal property.

Gabrion is accused of murdering Rachel Timmerman two days prior to his rape trial, in which he stood accused of raping Timmerman; she was to testify against him in connection with the August 1996 rape. Court records revealed that Gabrion threatened to kill Timmerman and her baby if she told anyone about the rape, which she reported to Newaygo County Sheriff’s deputies. At the time of her death, the victim was 19 years old. Gabrion reportedly abducted Timmerman and killed her by weighing her down with a concrete block, then tossing her into a remote lake in the Manistee National Forest after she was bound and gagged.

According to a news article at Mlive.com, an appeals panel had overturned Gabrion’s death penalty sentence earlier. On Tuesday, May 28, a federal appeals court upheld the death penalty, saying that the fact that Michigan lacks a death penalty has nothing to with Gabrion’s character, or the fact that he chose to kill the victim. In their decision, the Court of Appeals went on to say that it had nothing to do with the defendant’s culpability, or the manner in which the victim was murdered.

Michigan appellate law attorneys realize that whether at the state or federal level, appealing a conviction or sentencing is never easy; in fact, it is a complex process that requires the skill and ability of a seasoned lawyer with extensive hands-on experience in this specialized area of the law.


Individuals who feel that injustice has been done either in regards to a conviction or sentencing should discuss the situation with a capable and aggressive Michigan criminal appeals lawyer at once.