McDermott, Marek and McClain managed to elude justice
yet again for the Victim of Marek.
yet again for the Victim of Marek.
After more than a quarter-century, closure was just two days away.
Adela Marie Simmons' lifeless body, burned and battered, was found in a Dania Beach lifeguard shack in June 1983. Her loved ones welcomed the finality that would come at last with her convicted killer's execution.
John Richard Marek, 47, was scheduled to die Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison near Starke.
On Monday morning, the Florida Supreme Court intervened, granting an indefinite postponement.
"Me and my sister finally saw closure coming and now it's slipping away, again," said Simmons' daughter, Vivienne Yao, 47.
It was yet another delay in a string of many.
Since his 1984 conviction, Marek has faced three death warrants and seen his case go to the Florida Supreme Court six times, the U.S. Supreme Court at least once and through the federal judicial system.
Meanwhile, Simmons' two daughters _Yao and Aileen Bantau, 48, of Austin, Texas _ have coped and carried on, raising a combined five daughters of their own.
The latest death warrant, signed by Gov. Charlie Crist last month, was a "jarring" return to the horror of the past and what has been left undone, said Yao, of Miami Shores.
Yao and Bantau, were 21- and 23-year-old college students at Barry University, where their mother worked as an administrator, when her life was violently taken.
Danger came by way of two drifters who stopped to offer help when Simmons and her best friend, Jean Trach, encountered car trouble on a rural stretch of Florida's Turnpike in Martin County.
Simmons, 45, accepted a ride from Marek and Raymond Wigley, while Trach stayed behind.
Simmons was not seen again until her raped and strangled body was found in the lifeguard shack.
Monday's action by the state's high court came after Broward Circuit Judge Peter Weinstein heard evidence last week from three of Wigley's former prison mates, who claimed Wigley confessed to them that he, not Marek, strangled Simmons.
Wigley, who was serving a life sentence for his role in the crime, was murdered in prison in 2000.
The Broward judge declined to recommend a stay of execution, saying the new testimony amounted to "hearsay."
But Marek's attorney, Martin McClain, appealed Weinstein's decision. On Monday, the state's high court slammed the brakes on the execution, and scheduled oral arguments on the matter for May 20.
"The new evidence is very solid and the new evidence should require that Mr. Marek's death sentence be vacated," McClain said.
The Florida Supreme Court has a range of options: grant a new trial; call for a new penalty phase; reduce Marek's death sentence to life in prison or uphold the sentence of capital punishment.
Enough is enough, says Trach, now 76.
"[Marek] didn't give Adela a chance, and now they're giving him every chance," she said.
Neither Yao nor Trach, who also lives in Miami Shores, intended to witness Marek's execution. Neither wanted to "waste any more time on him."
Instead they planned to share a meal and celebrate the life of a woman with a zest for life and travel.
"We were going to go out," said Trach. "And raise a toast to my best friend and her mother."
Not a murder victim, but a "strong and independent lady," who was widowed at 40 and went on to raise her daughters alone and further her education with mechanics and photography classes.
"She loved life. That's the way I would like her to be remembered," Yao said. SOURCE