Crime

Miami killer slated for execution Monday leaves brutal legacy

 
 
Marshall Lee Gore is scheduled to be executed in Florida on Monday.
Marshall Lee Gore is scheduled to be executed in Florida on Monday.
Florida Department of Corrections

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

Marshall Lee Gore, pony-tailed strip-club patron, seemed affable enough when he bought a drink for a dancer named Tina.

Within a few months, his charm vanished. He raped and stabbed Tina, bashed her head into a rock and left her half-dead in a South Dade trash pile. Then Gore kidnapped her 2-year-old son.

Both victims survived. Not until cops captured Gore three days later in Kentucky, and detectives connected the dots, did it become clear that he was responsible for a staggering string of rapes, robberies and two murders stretching up the Florida peninsula.

Now, 25 years later, Gore is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. Monday by lethal injection for the strangulation murder of Lauderhill’s Robyn Novick. Her body was discovered in a trash heap near Homestead as officers looked for Tina’s kidnapped child.

Gore, 49, leaves behind a slew of shattered families. Gone is the smooth-talking listener that proved alluring to women, replaced by an inmate with a legacy of defiant outbursts and outlandish claims — the latest, that he is being executed for “organ harvesting” and “to be a human sacrifice.”

“He was smart, cunning, intelligent, charming and he was heartless. No conscience whatsoever,” said retired Miami-Dade sexual battery detective Louis Passaro, who investigated Gore’s crime spree. “Nobody should be shedding a tear for this guy. It’s no loss to humanity.”

Gore’s lawyer is still fighting for a last-minute appeal, saying he should be allowed to explore claims Gore should not be executed because he is insane. The Archdiocese of Miami, which opposes capital punishment, is planning an 11:45 a.m. vigil for Gore and his victims on Monday at St. Martha Catholic Church, 9301 Biscayne Blvd.

Novick was 30 when she fell victim to Gore in March 1988.

She grew up in suburban Cincinnati. After a brief marriage, she moved to South Florida. Her parents, who had a condo in North Miami-Dade, bought her a home in Lauderhill to make sure she was safe.

A petite woman, Novick was a longtime credit representative for General Motors. She drove a yellow 1987 Corvette convertible with the license plate ROBYNN.

But with bills piling up, she began moonlighting as a dancer at Solid Gold in North Miami-Dade. She quit after a couple of weeks, but by then she had met Gore, a man she knew as Tony.

On March 11, 1988, Novick was supposed to be meet her boyfriend, Scott Baum, for a date. But first, she told him, she had to meet Tony. She told a friend he was paying her $2,500 to deliver some documents. “Nothing illegal,” she reassured her friend.

A witness saw Novick and Gore leave the Redland Tavern in her Corvette. One of Gore’s pals later told police the killer was driving her Corvette the next day.

Coral Gables police soon found the Corvette abandoned, the top down. Gore’s last name was scrawled on a note found in the car.

Days later, police discovered Tina, a Tootsie’s dancer, who had been beaten, slashed in the throat, stripped naked and left for dead in a Homestead-area field. She survived, barely.

“I could tell you it was the worst beating I had ever seen in 30 years of police work,” said former detective Passaro.

As officers fanned out to search for her missing 2-year-old son, they discovered Novick’s body. She had been stabbed in the chest and had a belt tied around her neck. She was covered with a blue tarp.

Jimmy, the kidnapped child, was later found in a kitchen cabinet in a freezing abandoned house in Georgia. A neighbor heard the boy’s cries and rescued him.

FBI agents nabbed Gore in Kentucky.

Suspicion soon fell on Gore for the disappearance of Tennessee college student Susan Marie Roark, who had disappeared two months earlier. She was last seen in his company. In April 1988, Columbia County deputies found Roark’s body, reduced to almost a skeleton, off a rural forest road.

Gore grew up in Cutler Ridge and served time in federal prison on a firearms conviction.

Women were drawn to him. He listened, gave good advice and cooked them meals. But he was also known for his ego and quick, raging temper.

“Once I was in the car with him and he was really nice and we were laughing, then I accidently hit the window with my keys and he started yelling at me and cussing at me,” a 17-year-old high school senior who said she was raped by Gore told The Miami Herald in 1988.

In all, Gore was suspected of at least 15 sexual assaults, the attempted murder of a girl in Broward and the two murders. Police said he stole one woman’s black Mustang and her personal property.

Throughout his trials, Gore proved unpredictable and antagonistic in court.

During his 1989 trial for the attack on Tina, he shocked the court by walking off the witness stand in the middle of cross examination. The television cameras unnerved him, he claimed.

When the clerk read the guilty verdicts, Gore chuckled and clapped. His howling and insults, many directed at his own lawyers, continued over the years as he was tried, convicted and sent to Death Row for the Novick and Roark murders.

His antagonism bought him some time. On the witness stand in his 1995 trial for Novick’s death, he repeatedly jousted with prosecutors. The Florida Supreme Court later overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial, saying a prosecutor had crossed the line for telling jurors Gore “deserves to die.”

A new jury nevertheless convicted him. He returned to Death Row.

“He really believed he could manipulate the system as he was able to manipulate these women before he killed them and left them for dead,” said former Miami-Dade prosecutor Gary Rosenberg, who tried Gore in three cases. “The death penalty was made for someone like him. He was never going to stop doing what he was doing.”

His raging behavior has continued, even in prison — he recently threw his cell TV set in a fit of rage because other inmates were making noise.

A panel of psychiatrists, appointed last month by the governor to evaluate Gore before his execution, found that he was mentally sound for execution.

They noted, though, that he spun a conspiracy theory: The “Illuminati” is executing him to sell his organs. One senator, he insists, wants his eyeballs to give to his son.

“This fantastic, imaginative scenario,” the panel reported to the governor, “was patently a fabrication designed to mislead the panel and avoid responsibility for his past actions.”

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