The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information; however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes.
TWILEGAR, Mark (W/M)
20th Judicial Circuit, Lee County Case # 03-002151CF
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable James R. Thompson
Attorney, Trial: Neil McLoughlin – Public Defender’s Office
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Cynthia J. Dodge – Public Defender’s Office
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Suzanne Keffer – CCRC-S
Date of Offense: 08/07/02
Date of Sentence: 08/14/07
Circumstances of Offense:
Mark Twilegar was living in a tent in the backyard of Britany and Shane McArthur’s house in Fort Myers during the Spring of 2002. He worked as a handyman for the McArthur’s so he did not have to pay rent. In June of 2002, the McArthurs moved out. In September, Britany’s younger brother, Spencer Hartman, moved in.
Twilegar also occasionally worked as a handyman for David Thomas, an attorney who also managed rental property. On 08/02/02, both Thomas and Twilegar traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, where Twilegar agreed to help install a deck on a house Thomas owned. Thomas informed his wife that he and Twilegar would be gone six to eight weeks. On the morning of 08/06/02, Thomas took out $25,000 in cash from his account at a bank in Montgomery, which was supposedly for buying a house at an auction, and rented a car. Thomas called his girlfriend, Valerie Bisnett Fabina, to inform her that he and Twilegar would be returning to Fort Myers that night. Thomas and Twilegar were last seen by Thomas’s neighbor in Montgomery at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon.
On 08/07/02, Thomas visited with Fabina at her job around 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. and returned to her the key card from the motel where they had spent the night the prior evening. Fabina noticed a large amount of cash in Thomas’ wallet, and he explained that it was to be used to buy a truck for Twilegar to use while on the job in Montgomery. They arranged to meet later that night at the motel, but Fabina never saw or heard from him again. Thomas also spoke with his wife, Mary Ann Lehman, around 9:00 p.m., and they had plans to speak again in the morning. She never heard from or saw him again either.
Later that night, Twilegar went to Jennifer Morrison’s house, where his mother was staying. Morrison drove Twilegar to the 7-Eleven and Walmart to purchase cell phones and various supplies. Morrison went to bed upon their return to the house. Twilegar and his mother were gone the next morning.
Prior to Hartman’s moving in, he had been renovating his sister’s house. One afternoon he noticed Twilegar digging in the backyard on the far side of his tent. Several minutes later, Twilegar informed Hartman that a man would be stopping by to drop off a couple of pounds of marijuana; however, the man would not come by if he saw Hartman there. Twilegar offered him an ounce of marijuana or $100 if he would not be present while the drop-off occurred. Hartman left and returned the next day to find that Twilegar left him $100. Twilegar was gone with his possessions, including a shotgun, and Hartman found Twilegar’s tent smoldering in the incinerator in the backyard.
After the disappearance of Thomas and Twilegar had been made known to the public on 09/26/02, Hartman went to the spot where Twilegar had been digging. Underneath a couch Twilegar had used to cover the area were palm fronds covering freshly dug dirt. Plywood, cinder blocks, and a car ramp were all beneath the dirt. He dug several feet until he smelled a foul odor and then called the police who discovered Thomas’ body.
It was discovered that Thomas died from a single shotgun blast to his upper right back, which was fired at close range. Sand was found in his larynx, indicating he was still breathing, but not necessarily conscious at the time he was buried. He was wearing the same clothes that he had on when he last saw Fabina; however, his wallet was missing. The date of death could not be determined, because the body had severely decomposed. The shotgun was never recovered, but the several 12-gauge shells and a shovel with a broken handle were found in the area. Thomas’ rental car key fob was found about 100 feet from his body. The rental car had been found earlier, and it was burned in a remote area of Lee County.
Twilegar was found in a campground in Greenville, Tennessee, where he had been living since 08/21/02. He was apprehended on 09/20/02 for a charge unrelated to Thomas’ murder, but made several incriminating calls while incarcerated that may have also aided in his conviction and sentence for the murder of Thomas.
04/03/03 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder
01/17/07 Jury vote waived in Penalty Phase
01/26/07 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
08/14/07 Sentenced as follows by Judge James R. Thompson:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
08/29/07 Appeal filed
01/07/10 FSC affirmed conviction and sentence
01/22/10 Motion for Rehearing filed
08/09/10 Motion denied
08/25/10 Mandate issued
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
11/08/10 Petition filed
02/22/11 Petition denied
On 08/29/07, Twilegar filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court, citing the following issues: the trial court erred in concluding that the evidence was sufficient to prove that the appellant committed the crime; the trial court erred in concluding that the evidence was sufficient to support premeditation; the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress the evidence seized at the Tennessee campground; the trial court erred in excluding evidence concerning the victim; the trial court erred in admitting evidence of flight; the trial court erred in admitting the appellant‘s jailhouse phone calls; the trial court erred in admitting the appellants‘s receipts for retail purchases; the trial court erred in finding pecuniary gain and CCP as aggravators; the death sentence is disproportionate to the nature of the crime; and trial court erred in allowing the appellant to waive a penalty phase jury and to waive both the investigation and presentation of mitigation. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Twilegar’s conviction and sentence on 01/07/10. Twilegar filed a Motion for Rehearing on 01/22/10. This motion was denied on 08/09/10. A mandate was issued on 08/25/10.
Twilegar filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari on 11/08/10. This petition was denied on 02/22/11.
Report Date: 01/14/10 EMJ
Approved: 01/19/10 RW
Updated: 03/10/11 EMJ