Man convicted in Tarrytown murders gets 2 death sentences

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SUMTER COUNTY, Fla.,None - A man convicted in a Sumter County double-murder trial wanted to get the death penalty, and Tuesday, Bill Marquardt got what he wanted.

A jury convicted Marquardt in October 2011 of the 2000 murders in a bizarre trial in which he defended himself.

Marquardt has spent time in a mental hospital, sent there for mutilating animals 12 years ago in his home state of Wisconsin, where he was also accused of murdering his own mother.

All that happened just a couple of days before Marquardt drove to Florida and stopped at a house in Tarrytown.

They were the words convicted killer Marquardt actually wanted to hear. Marquardt told the judge he wanted the death sentence because it means an automatic appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, where he is convinced he'll get his conviction overturned.

Two death sentences were handed down Tuesday for the March 2000 shooting and stabbing deaths of Margarita Ruiz and Esperanza Wells in their Tarrytown cottage.

"It's a good day. A good day. It's like redemption. He got what he had long coming. We've been here 12 years. We've waited for it. Twelve years," said Pam Ruiz, relative of victim Margarita Ruiz.

Marquardt was serving 75 years in a Wisconsin mental institution for mutilating animals when he was charged with the crimes in Tarrytown.

Judge William Hallman ruled his mental health condition was outweighed by the heinous and atrocious nature of the killings.

"It's cold. He just walked up the front steps and let loose with a barrage of bullets. I don't think the judge could ignore that," public defender Charles Vaughn said.

Vaughn was backup council as Marquardt defended himself in trial. WFTV asked Vaughn, "Why do you think Marquardt did it?"

"That's a good question. I can't figure it out. Never could figure it out," Vaughn said.

It's a question that will also haunt the family of the victims Marquardt left behind.

"If you could sit there and ask him and he had to answer you, you'd like to know why. But I don't see that ever happening," said Robert Wells, a relative of the victims.

It was DNA evidence on Marquardt's knife and gun that connected him to the crimes in Tarrytown.