• Man defending self in murder trial calls family to stand


    SUMTER COUNTY, Fla.,None - It's been one of the strangest trials WFTV has ever covered, and on Monday the paranoid schizophrenic defending himself in two murders began calling his own witnesses, which included his father and his sister.

    Bill Marquardt is accused of killing two women in their Terrytown cottage.

    The jury does not know about Marquardt being found not guilty years ago of murdering his mother.

    With a possible death sentence hanging over his head, Marquardt called his family members to the witness stand.

    "What is your relationship to me?" Marquardt asked his sister Sheila.

    "Sister," she replied.

    Sheila Marquardt is part of the defendant's alibi, which partially centers on a pair of sneakers. Marquardt is accused of the March 2000 shooting and stabbing deaths of Margarita Ruiz and Esperanza Wells in their Tarrytown cottage. 

    Prosecutors said their blood was found on Marquardt's shoes.  The defendant's answer to that evidence was a snapshot where he was wearing different shoes.

    Sheila Marquardt appeared to be very uncomfortable when prosecutors asked her if her brother owned more than one pair. She said she didn't know.

    "I know this is difficult for you because you love your brother.  Correct?" asked prosecutor Pete Magrino.

    "Yes," replied Sheila Marquardt.

    Marquardt's father, Alfred, tried to back up his son's claim that drug dealers planted one of the murder weapons, a gun, under the refrigerator in his Wisconsin cabin. 

    Police didn't find it during the first search of the cabin.  Alfred Marquardt said he didn't see it either and he testified he moved the appliance. 

    But the weapon was found under the refrigerator during a second police search. 

    And because Marquardt did not know how to properly question witnesses, many inquiries were not allowed.

    "Did you also try to compare the unidentified palm print?" asked Marquardt.

    "Judge, I have to object to the leading nature of the question," Magrino said. "Excuse me judge, objection! Object to the form of the question!"

    Marquardt has a couple of witnesses left to call.

    Closing arguments will come some time on Tuesday.

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    Man defending self in murder trial calls family to stand