STARKE -- Marshall Lee Gore, the notorious Miami rapist and murderer, was known for his outrageous courtroom antics: insulting lawyers, storming off the witness stand and howling at a guilty verdict.
But after more than two decades on Florida's Death Row, Gore displayed no insolence in his final moments.
Instead, as he lay strapped Tuesday night in a gurney awaiting death by lethal injection at Florida State Prison, he refused to open his eyes.
"Inmate Gore, do you have a last statement you'd like to make," a prison official asked just past 6 p.m.
Gore, 50, his jowls quivering side-to-side slightly, said not a word.
A lethal cocktail of drugs began coursing into his veins through tubes hooked into both arms. Moments later, his mouth opened in a deep labored breath, then stayed agape as color drained from his ruddy face.
From behind a thick pane of glass, four rows of observers, including relatives of victims, Robyn Novick and Susan Marie Roark, leaned forward in their chairs as minutes ticked away. A white-smocked doctor walked in. He pried Gore's eye lids open, shining a light in. No response.
At 6:12 p.m., the prison official pronounced Gore dead.
"I thought that was quite ironic, that he had nothing to say at the end," said retired Miami-Dade Detective Dave Simmons, who investigated Gore's slew of rapes. "He played the system for years faking insanity, saying outlandish things to judges and witnesses, and in his moment of truth, he had nothing to say for himself. He was the ultimate
coward in the end."
As the relatives filed out of the gallery, Novick's sister, Pamela Novick, winked at journalists. Gore stabbed and beat Robyn Novick to death in March 1988, leaving her discarded corpse in a trash heap near Homestead.
Pamela Novick recalled her 30-year-old sister's "heart of gold" and "zest for life" and the horror of her body dumped "as if one was throwing out garbage."
Novick read a statement after the execution lamenting that Gore had lived for so long after her sister's death.
"My sister Robyn wasn't given a choice of how or when she wanted to die," she said. "She was violently murdered by a serial killer with no mercy and no appeals."
Novick's elderly mother, Phyllis Novick, who lives in Ohio, did not attend Tuesday's execution. Neither did her father.
Gore's execution was ultimately quick and drama-free, unlike the 25 years of legal wrangling since he murdered the two women and nearly killed another. It had been Gore's fourth scheduled execution in recent months. Twice before, courts halted executions as Gore's lawyers sought to stave off his death because of questions about his sanity.
Then, in a move roundly criticized, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi rescheduled a September execution date so she could attend a political fundraiser; she later apologized. Bondi's decision still riled many involved in the case.
"It was a slap in the face, not only for the law enforcement officers involved but for the families who have waited 25 long years," said retired Columbia County Sheriff's Lt. Neal Nydam, who investigated the Roark murder and attended Tuesday's execution. Nydam said afterward: "It's been a roller coaster. But finally, it's over."
Nydam attended the execution with former Columbia prosecutor Bob Dekle, who also put away serial killer Ted Bundy. Former Miami-Dade prosecutor Flora Seff also witnessed the execution.