The man found guilty of killing a Cedar Springs woman may not escape his death sentence after all.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the decision that one of their three-judge panels made in August, when they overturned the death sentence for Marvin Gabrion, 57.
Gabrion was convicted in 2002 for the 1997 kidnapping and drowning death of Rachel Timmerman, 19, of Cedar Springs. Although Michigan does not have the death penalty, Gabrion was sentenced to death by lethal injection, because Rachel’s body was found on federal land, in the Manistee National Forest.
In August, a three-judge federal appeals panel upheld his conviction but overturned the death penalty on the grounds that the trial judge, Robert Holmes Bell, should have allowed lawyers to tell the jury during the sentencing phase in 2002 that Gabrion would not have faced death if he had been tried in a state court.
However, a majority of the 16 judges on the Sixth Circuit of Appeals threw out that decision last week. The full court will now revisit the sentencing phase of the trial.
Rachel disappeared from her father’s house in Cedar Springs in June 1997. Her body was found in Oxford Lake, in Newayo County, weighted down by cinder blocks, on July 5, 1997. Prosecutors believe Gabrion murdered Rachel to keep her from testifying that he raped her the previous fall. The rape trial was set to begin within days of her disappearance. Her daughter, Shannon, who was 11 months old at the time, also disappeared, and was never found.
Rachel’s father, L.C. (Tim) Timmerman and his brother John have written a book that tells the story of Rachel and Shannon’s disappearance and Gabrion’s subsequent arrest called “The Color of Night.” The book can be bought at Schulers, or ordered from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.