A Wisconsin man convicted of a double murder in rural Sumter County that had
gone unsolved for years on Tuesday received a death sentence for slayings the
judge described as "heinous, atrocious and cruel."
Circuit Judge William H. Hallman III in Bushnell ruled Bill Paul Marquardt, a
36-year-old man diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, should die by lethal
injection for the slayings 12 years ago of Margarita Ruiz and her daughter
Marquardt joins 394 prisoners on Florida's death row.
"We waited 12 years for this but we're satisfied," said Pam Ruiz,
daughter-in-law and sister-in-law of the murder victims. "We're happy with the
judge's decision and it does give us some closure."
It was a routine day in March 2000 when Pam Ruiz dropped off her 2 children
with Margarita Ruiz and Wells at their cottage in Tarrytown, a small town on
State Road 50 about 40 miles west of Orlando.
"I just went to work and left my kids with their grandma and aunt," she said.
But the 2 women were brutally killed, in front of the children, who managed to
"To know how they suffered before they died, how they were still conscious when
he stabbed them is just terrible," Pam Ruiz she said.
Investigators spent years unable to find the murderer until a Wisconsin
prosecutor made the connection using DNA evidence on a knife that Marquardt
Marquardt, who represented himself during his capital-murder trial, asked for
the death sentence, not offering any reasons why the death penalty shouldn't be
His decision means the case gets a direct appeal to the Florida Supreme Court,
a strategy Marquardt seemed convinced would lead to his conviction getting
But that's not a realistic scenario, said Assistant State Attorney Pete
"He thinks he'll get it reversed, which means he chooses not to understand the
law or to believe it is as it exists," Magrino said. "But he got the death
penalty, which is what he deserved."
It's a far different result than Marquardt's prior murder case, in which a
Wisconsin jury found him not guilty of killing his mother in Chippewa County,
Wis. That acquittal prompted prosecutor Jon Thiesen to research the unknown
blood samples from that case.
Marquardt had a knife with 4 different DNA profiles: his own, his mother's and
2 unknown women, who were related to each other. Knowing that Marquardt had
traveled to Florida after his mother's slaying, Thiesen searched unsolved
double murders and found the Sumter case.
DNA testing confirmed that the blood samples belonged to Ruiz and Wells, and
DNA testing at the Tarrytown house confirmed that Marquardt had been there.
Ballistics experts confirmed that Marquardt's gun matched the bullets fired in
A Sumter jury in October found Marquardt guilty of the 1st-degree murders and
of burglary, but Marquardt waived his right to have that same jury deliberate
on a possible death sentence.
Instead, the decision rested with Hallman, who ruled that the killings were
carried out in a "cold, calculated and premeditated" manner. Those factors
outweighed any other evidence in his decision to impose the death sentence,
according to the ruling.
"It's a just sentence. It's an appropriate sentence and I hope it helps the
families dealing with this tragedy," said Sumter County sheriff's Maj. Gary
Brannen, who investigated the double murders. "It was a random act of violence
by a disturbed individual."
(source: Orland Sentinel)