Marquis Marshall spoke just five words in court before he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting deaths of two people inside a Wichita Dollar General store last November.
“No. No, sir,” he told District Judge Warren Wilbert when asked whether wanted to say anything on his own behalf.
After signing paperwork promising to register as a violent offender if he is ever released, Marshall was asked whether the paperwork had his birth date right.
“Yeah,” he replied.
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When asked whether the Social Security number was correct, Marshall again replied, “Yeah.”
Wearing handcuffs and a green jail uniform, Marshall was then led out of a Sedgwick County courtroom, apparently for the last time. No one but Marshall, and maybe his lawyer, was left with a clue about why he used a .22-caliber handgun to shoot and kill 22-year-old store employee Zachary Hunt and 79-year-old customer Henry Harvey at the store near 13th and Oliver.
A Sedgwick County jury deliberated less than 1 1/2 hours on Oct. 2 before convicting Marshall of capital murder. His defense lawyer presented no evidence at the trial, and a motive for the shootings was never disclosed.
About two dozen relatives of Harvey and Hunt attended the sentencing hearing, but the only one to address the court at length was Veronica Thaw, Harvey’s daughter.
She said her father became a single parent of six children, ages 1 1/2 to 14, when he gained custody of them in 1986.
“He taught each of his children how to cook and sew,” she said. “He also taught us how to be respectable citizens.”
Harvey dropped out of school to join the Air Force at age 16, Thaw said. After 25 years in the service, she said, he retired and enrolled at Wichita State University. He took high school classes at night and college courses in the day, she said. He eventually became the first African-American to earn a geology degree from WSU, she said, and he was planning to enroll in graduate school when he was shot.
Thaw also said her father had been arranging family reunions for 50 years.
“A limb has fallen from our family tree,” she said. “Actually, Daddy was the trunk.
“Marquis stole the life of our father, but he cannot steal our special memories. … Our lives will be forever changed because Marquis Marshall decided to enter that store with a gun. We want him to get the full extent of punishment, this side of death.”
Kelly Herbert, Hunt’s mother, started to read a statement in court, but got out only a few words before faltering. District Attorney Marc Bennett read the statement into the record for her.
“I wake up every morning praying this is all a dream,” she wrote. “We struggle every day to cope with the reality that he is gone forever.”
“Our lives have been torn to shreds, flipped upside down and forever changed. We just want our old lives back but now our lives will never be the same.”
Herbert said Marshall could have chosen to walk out of the store on the night of the shooting without hurting anyone.
“Instead, Mr. Marshall chose to commit a senseless act of violence that changed lives of so many people, including his own.”