Paranoid schizophrenic found guilty of Terrytown murders



SUMTER COUNTY, Fla.,None - A jury found a paranoid schizophrenic guilty of a Sumter County double murder on Wednesday.

Bill Marquardt's reaction to the jury's decision was that he wanted to be executed.

Marquardt was pulled from a Wisconsin mental hospital to stand trial for the murders of two women in a Terrytown cottage. Many were surprised that Marquardt was allowed to defend  himself in the case.

Marquardt said he wanted to decide his own punishment.

"I prefer the death penalty your honor," Marquardt said in court.

The Sumter County jury deliberated for two hours before finding Marquardt guilty of the murders of Margarita Ruiz and Esperanza Wells 11 years ago.

"Can they rest in peace now?" WFTV reporter Berndt Petersen asked the victim's daughter-in-law Pam Ruiz.

 "Yes," she replied.

Acting as his own attorney during the seven-day trial, the defendant presented his closing arguments in just 17 minutes and included a story about mom's blueberry pie.

"She takes it out of the oven. You can smell it.  It smells so good!" Marquardt said.

It was the defendant's way of explaining circumstantial evidence. He insisted the state had little else.

"There are no ifs, ands or buts about it," Marquardt said.

Prosecutors said in March of 2000, Marquardt drove through Florida, stopped at the Tarrytown cottage, and shot and stabbed Ruiz and Wells to death.  

Experts testified that blood on Marquardt's' knife, clothes, sneakers and in his car included the DNA of Ruiz, Wells and the killer.

But Marquardt insisted the real murderer was hired by fellow drug dealers in Wisconsin to frame him.

"And the state is trying to make the DNA fit when it does not," Marquardt said.

But the jury decided it did fit.

While still wearing the smile he had on his face throughout the trial, Marquardt wept as relatives of his victims reached out to Marquardt's father and sister.  

The jury was never told that Marquardt was also accused, but acquitted, of killing his mother in Wisconsin two days before the murders in Tarrytown.  

Judge William Hallman will decide whether Marquardt gets life in prison or death in December.