The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision last week affirming the death penalty for Marvin Charles Gabrion II, convicted in 2002 in the 1997 kidnapping and drowning death of 19-year-old Rachel Timmerman, of Cedar Springs.
The Court upheld the conviction and sentencing 12-4.
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.
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.
Rachel disappeared from her father’s house in Cedar Springs in June 1997. She had told her father she was going on a date with a man named John Weeks, who had been calling her. He asked her to bring her 11-month-old baby, Shannon, along with her. Weeks was reportedly calling Rachel at the request of Gabrion.
Her body was found in Oxford Lake, in Newayo County, weighted down by cinder blocks, on July 5, 1997. Her daughter, Shannon, was never found. Gabrion reportedly told inmates that he killed the baby, too.
Gabrion is suspected of killing at least three other people—including John Weeks, who disappeared shortly after the crime and was never seen again.
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.
One of Gabrion’s arguments in his appeal was that his lawyers were not allowed to tell the jury that if Gabrion had been tried in state court, he would only face a life sentence instead of a death penalty. But the court said Michigan’s lack of that punishment was not a mitigating factor to argue in a death penalty case.
Gabrion also argued that the court was biased in favor of pro-death penalty jurors. However, Gabrion did not object to any of the jurors that sat on the case.
For a complete account of the Court of Appeals decision and facts in the case, click link below…