NOTE: If you don’t wish to read the graphic details of the crime, skip the italicized text in the center of the story.
"Justice delayed is justice denied..." Florida Governor Charlie Crist said, referring to the court’s recent decision. "But in addition, the heinous nature of the crime itself is important to consider."
Junny Rios-Martinez was 11-years-old when convicted child rapist Mark Schwab first spotted him. The handsome child’s picture had been displayed in a local Brevard County newspaper after he won a kite-flying contest. For Schwab, it was lust at first sight. He called the boy’s Cocoa, Florida home and told his parents he was a newspaper reporter and wanted to do a more in-depth article about Junny. After learning that the boy was an avid surfer, Schwab informed the family that he had recently accepted a new job as a writer for a surfing magazine. He produced fake credentials and memorabilia from the surfing magazine to convince them.
He continued to groom Junny and his family for several weeks. Then on April 18, 1991, he called Junny’s school and pretended to be the boy’s father. He asked officials to let Junny meet him on the baseball field after school. Gullible school personnel did so and Junny was never seen alive again.
When police were notified, they immediately suspected Mark Dean Schwab. Only a month earlier, he’d been released from prison after serving just three years of an eight-year sentence for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy.
After learning that police were looking for him, Schwab fled to a relative’s home in Ohio but was captured five days later. After his return to Florida, he led police to a remote section of Brevard County where investigators found a footlocker tied shut with rope and covered with palm fronds. Inside the box, Junny was discovered lying in a fetal position. Wads of duct tape were inside the box. Schwab’s fingerprints were found on the tape.
The following is part of the trial transcript: “The state trial court judge, after hearing all of the evidence at a bench trial and sentence hearing...found that Schwab had acted alone. He found that Schwab had planned things so that the young victim left the baseball field thinking he was with a trusted friend. Once in the motel room, Schwab physically overpowered the slightly built child. He bound with duct tape the little boy's hands, his mouth, and part of his face. He took a knife and violently cut off the child's clothes, leaving him naked, crying, and terrified. He punched him twice in the stomach. He put a bed sheet or mattress cover over the head of the little boy who was so scared that he started to shake. Schwab anally raped him. The victim did not even have the solace of unconsciousness during the ordeal, which lasted a substantial amount of time. He continued to cry throughout, stopping only when Schwab finally strangled or smothered him to death.”
Schwab has been on death row since 1992. Since then, he has filed numerous appeals in both state and federal courts. All have upheld his conviction and death sentence. He also filed two appeals to the Supreme Court. He was denied on his first appeal and justices are expected to rule shortly on his latest appeal. If his appeal is rejected, he will most likely be put to death within a month.
Junny Rios-Martinez was an athletic, creative child. He had designed and built the kite that won the kite-flying contest that ultimately cost him his life. I recently watched a video of Junny on YouTube. It is clear that he was a natural at baseball. Junny was also a good student. He had a loving, hard-working family and would have most likely grown up to become a productive member of society.