Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Junny's family plans quiet trip to execution site

Child-killer's final hours may be ticking away

Junny's family plans quiet trip to execution site



Vicki Rios-Martinez hopes for a quiet end today to the "roller-coaster" that began 17 years ago when Mark Dean Schwab murdered her 11-year-old son, Junny.

She and 30 relatives and friends will travel about 170 miles this morning to Raiford, where she expects to watch Schwab die.

His execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. He would be the first Florida inmate put to death in 18 months.

However, Peter Cannon, one of Schwab's attorneys, filed an appeal Monday evening with the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal seeks a stay of execution and asks the high court to consider the case.

"This is one of the most solemn things you do as governor," said Gov. Charlie Crist of the first execution of his administration. "You know, I believe in the death penalty, obviously, or I wouldn't have signed the warrant. I think it will work fine and justice will be done."

Years ago, the Rios-Martinez family imagined organizing busloads to mark the occasion, but they've changed their mind.

"We're keeping it small. We're just going up there very quietly," Vicki Rios-Martinez said, then paused and added, "no buses."

Schwab was sentenced to death on July 1, 1992. Vicki Rios-Martinez is expected to read a statement tonight after the lethal injection.

"We were devastated by this years ago," she said. "But we've moved on. We're not the same people we were before."

In 1991, Schwab was out of prison less than a month for raping Cocoa Beach teenager Than Meyer when he saw Junny's photo in FLORIDA TODAY for winning a kite contest.

Schwab stalked the boy and tried befriending the family, then he kidnapped him. At a Cocoa Beach motel, Schwab raped, tortured and killed Junny. He disposed of the body in Canaveral Groves.

On Monday, Schwab visited through a pane of glass with his mother, Mary Killam, and Shirley Muhs, his aunt. Both women live in Ohio, according to the Department of Corrections.

Schwab plans to meet with family members again today. This time, contact will be allowed.

Not making the trip from Brevard County will be Meyer, whom Schwab raped at knifepoint when Meyer was 13.

Meyer, a 33-year-old contractor, did not want to go through the emotional trauma of reliving everything Schwab did to him by attending the execution. A father himself now, Meyer wants to start speaking out on issues of child abuse.

"I won't be at the execution. Seeing Schwab's picture in the paper and on TV is enough," he said. "I figured it would be a good time to do something Schwab can't do and go have fun fishing with my family and friends. I will not let him hold me back."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Torres at 242-3649 or jtorres@floridatoday.com.

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