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John Christopher MARQUARD





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 20, 1991
Date of birth: October 16, 1966
Victim profile: Stacy Willets
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: St. Johns County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 5, 1993

Florida Supreme Court

opinion 81341 opinion SC00-1540

DC# 122995
DOB:  10/16/66

Seventh Judicial Circuit, St. Johns County, Case# 91-2418-CFA
Sentencing Judge:  The Honorable Richard Watson
Trial Attorney:  Garry Wood & Howard Pearl – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal:  George D. E. Burden – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Richard E. Kiley & James V. Viggiano – CCRC-M

Date of Offense:  06/20/91

Date of Sentence:  02/05/93

Circumstances of the Offense:

In June 1991, the victim, Stacy Willets, and two males, John Marquard and Mike Abshire, drove from North Carolina to Florida. They all were planning to move to Florida and were going to share the expense by driving together.

The three were going to use Ms. Willet’s car. Marquard and Abshire talked about killing Ms. Willet for her car and money before the three left North Carolina.

On 06/20/91, Marquard told Abshire that he was going to kill Ms. Willet that night. The motive that he gave for wanting to kill her was that he was tired of arguing with her. The conversation took place when the three had made a stop in South Carolina.

When the three reached St. Augustine, Marquard and Abshire decided to lure Ms. Willet into the woods and kill her. They got her to go with them by telling her she was invited to a party. 

They drove her to a deserted area and the three walked into the woods. Marquard came at Ms. Willet from behind and stabbed her. Ms. Willet ended up on her stomach on the ground. Marquard then sat on her back; he noticed that she was still breathing, so he pushed her face into a puddle until she quit breathing.

Ms. Willet’s body then began to convulse, so Marquard again forced her face into the puddle. Abshire began to take part in the crime by stabbing Ms. Willet’s body. The two then attempted to severe Ms. Willet’s head from her body.

Marquard was arrested for the murder and he confessed. He told law enforcement that he remembered only walking into the woods and then standing over Ms. Willet’s body with a knife, but he did not recall the crime. Abshire provided a detailed account of the murder.

Additional Information:

Marquard was on probation in the state of North Carolina for larceny when the murder took place.


Codefendant Information:

Michael Gene Abshire (DC# 773461)

AKA: Lockjaw

Abshire was convicted of First-Degree murder and Robbery with a Deadly Weapon (CC# 91-2418).  He was sentenced to life for both offenses and is currently incarcerated by the Florida Department of Corrections.


Trial Summary:

04/24/91          The defendant was indicted on the following charges:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon

01/13/93          The defendant was found guilty of all the charges in the indictment

01/15/93          The jury recommended the sentence of death by a vote of 12-0

02/05/93          The defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon – Life


Case Information:

Marquard filed a Direct Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 02/26/93. Marquard raised the following claims in the appeal: the trial court erred by dismissing a death-qualified venire person, an illegal search and seizure claim, and an admission of irrelevant evidence. The Court found no errors and affirmed Marquard’s conviction and sentence on 06/09/94. The rehearing was denied on 08/23/94, and the mandate was issued on 09/22/94.

Marquard filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on 11/21/94. The petition was denied on 01/23/95.

Marquard filed a 3.850 Motion to the Circuit Court on 03/26/97. The petition was denied on 12/22/99.

Marquard filed a 3.850 Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on 02/07/00.  Marquard contended that his death sentence should have been vacated because his codefendant, Abshire, received a life sentence.  He also argued that his death sentence should be vacated because Abshire recanted his trial testimony and claimed that he cut the victim’s throat while she was still alive. 

Although the Court found that those reasons could be reason to vacate a death sentence, they found that Marquard was the more culpable of the two making his death sentence proportional.  He also claimed that he was denied a fair evidentiary hearing because the trial court did not allow hearsay evidence to be heard. 

The Court found there to be harmless error in this argument. Marquard also contended that his counsel was ineffective, which the Court also denied.  The Court found Marquards’ arguments to be harmless and affirmed the denial of his 3.850 Motion on 11/21/02.

He also filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Florida Supreme Court on 07/28/00, which was later denied on 11/21/02.  The rehearing was denied on 07/15/03.  The mandate was issued on 08/14/03.

On 09/05/03, Marquard filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to the United States District Court, Middle District.  An amended petition was filed on 10/21/03.  The petition was denied and dismissed with prejudice on 01/18/05.

On 02/11/05, Marquard filed a Habeas Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals.  On 11/10/05, the USCA affirmed the USDC’s denial of Marquard’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.  The rehearing was denied on 12/27/05.

On 03/20/06, Marquard filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 06/05/06.


John Christopher Marquard



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