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The Times Herald from Port Huron, Michigan • Page 12
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The Times Herald from Port Huron, Michigan • Page 12

The Times Heraldi
Port Huron, Michigan
Issue Date:

i 4B TIMES HERALD, PORT HURON, MICHIGAN Michigan News. SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2002 Wmm Mr. Gabrion, 48, has been charged with murder on federal property in the drowning of 19-year-old Rachel Timmerman, who had accused him of raping her in August 1996. She and her 11-month-old daughter, Shannon VerHage, disappeared June 3, 1997, two days before Ms. Timmerman was to testify against Mr. Gabrion, who was free on bond awaiting trial. Federal prosecutors said the young woman, who lived with her father and her baby near Cedar Springs, was alive when she was gagged with tape, bound with handcuffs and chains anchored by cinder blocks and dropped into the mucky, shallow waters of Oxford Lake in west-central Michigan. Her body was found July 5, 1997. There was no sign of her child. Mr. Gabrion is being prosccut- By JAMES PRICHARD The Associated Press GRAND RAPIDS The last time somebody was executed in Michigan was in 1938, after a botched bank robbery resulted in the shooting death of an innocent bystander. Now federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a man charged with killing a young, single mother who had accused him of raping her. Michigan outlawed capital punishment in 1846, just nine years after achieving statehood, for all crimes except treason against the state. But certain federal crimes are punishable by death regardless of the state in which they occur. To that end, the U.S. attorney's office in Grand Rapids wants the death penalty for Marvin Charles Gabrion II, formerly of Altona. Shannon, prosecutors say in the death-penalty notice filed with the court that they believe he's responsible for her death or disappearance. Police agencies have also linked him to the disappearances of three men who are presumed dead, though he has not been charged in those cases, either. Elaine Gabrion, 75, of White Cloud said she believes her son had nothing to do with Rachel Timmerman's death or Shannon's disappearance. "I do know that Marvin would never hurt a baby. He loves children, that's one thing," she said. "He used to accept my other boys' children for his take them fishing, go to the library and get books for them to read and get tapes for them to hear so they can learn better at school." But Tim Timmerman said the authorities arrested and charged the right person in the crime. Marvin Gabrion, now serving a five-year prison sentence for Social Security fraud, is believed to be the first person ever charged with a capital offense in the Western District of Michigan federal court system. The system serves the Upper Peninsula and the western half of the Lower Peninsula. ed federally because the 20-acre lake is U.S. government-owned property and the U.S. attorney's office alleges the killing happened on the lake. It lies entirely within the Manistee National Forest near Woodville in northeastern Newaygo County, U.S. Forest Service officials said. There was a time when Rachel's father, Tim Timmerman, didn't have much of an opinion about the death penalty. But that was before his daughter was slain and his granddaughter vanished without a trace. "This entire case has changed my opinion, and now I support it," he said. "I'm so proud to be an American and I'm grateful that America's laws correspond with God's laws." Jury selection in Mr. Gabrion's trial in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids is set to begin Monday. Chief Judge Robert Holmes Bell will preside. A partial gag order has been issued in the case, so federal prosecutors, defense lawyers and representatives of the Michigan State Police and the Newaygo County Sheriffs Department all declined to be interviewed for this story. Though Mr. Gabrion has not been charged with regard to Residential Financing! Let us help you! Tl III "5 I Jim Roppoich I 982-9948 Ext. 131 fjffi FIRST PREFERRED UOHTOAOE COMPANY RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE SPECIALISTS' 810982-9948-800700-5839 Onui BOOS DDADDDDTT Bar Grill 810-982-2255 1121 Griswold Port Huron The Associated Press FACING DEATH: Marvin Charles Gabrion II is shown during his preliminary exam in White Cloud District Court on Dec. 4, 1997. 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Mr. Chebatoris, a 38-year-old Hamtramck man, was hanged July 8, 1938, at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan after a jury convicted him of shooting and killing a man during a failed bank robbery. He was the first person executed under the National Bank Robbery Act of 1934. Mr. Chebatoris, who had a long criminal history, and 28-year-old cohort Jack Gracey of Detroit tried to rob the Chemical State Savings Bank in Midland on Sept. 29, 1937. Their troubles started when they shot and wounded the bank's president and a cashier. Mr. Gracey was killed outside the bank by a deputized dentist armed with a hunting rifle. Henry Porter, a 50-year-old truck driver, was shot and killed by Mr. Chebatoris when Mr. Porter tried to prevent him from approaching a car with a woman in it. A short time later, the Midland County sheriff arrested Mr. Chebatoris, who was charged in federal court with murdering Mr. Porter. On Oct. 28, 1937, the jury of seven men and five women unanimously found Mr. Chebatoris guilty of murdering Mr. Porter. They voted for the death penalty on the seventh ballot. inewonus largest women's 1 fitness weignt loss Franchise! Gtiiness World Records 2(101 Register at door 6:00 pm 7:00 pm Cash, Check, VisaMC, AmEx A timeline of the investigation into the death of Rachel Timmerman; June 3, 1997: Ms. Timmerman, who lives in the Cedar Springs area, disappears two days before she is to testify against Marvin Charles Gabrion II, then a 43-year-old resident of Altona in Mecosta County whom she has accused of raping her. Also vanishing is her infant child, Shannon VerHage, who was 12 days shy of her first birthday. July 5, 1997: Ms. Timmerman's body is discovered in Oxford Lake, a small body of water in the Manistee National Forest in rural Newaygo County. Authorities say she was still alive when she was gagged with tape, bound with chains and cinder blocks and dropped into the water, where she drowned. No sign has ever been found of her baby girl. Oct. 14, 1997: Mr. Gabrion is arrested in New York state on a federal charge involving Social Security fraud. He is accused of impersonating a Grand Rapids transient who hasn't been seen for a year and intercepting his Social Security checks. The homeless man, Robert Allen, remains missing. July 1998: Mr. Gabrion is sentenced in the fraud case to five years in prison, the maximum prison term. June 29, 1999; A federal grand jury looking into Ms. Timmerman's death indicts Mr. Gabrion on a charge of murder on federal property. Feb. 23, 2001: Federal prosecutors file notice in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids they will seek the death penalty against Mr. Gabrion. love. Ronald B. Gorayeb Hypnotherapist "Over 275,000 people have attended our hypnosis seminars. 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