Maranda Martin gets life in kidnapping, murder of Paul Quandt


In this Jan. 16 file photo, defense lawyer Eric Atria speaks to Maranda Martin, during the second day of her murder trial in the case of Paul Quandt. Martin was sentenced to two life terms on Thursday.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.

Maranda Martin's long tearful reading of Bible passages in a bid for mercy fell on deaf ears Thursday.

Circuit Judge Mark Moseley sentenced her to three consecutive life terms for her part in the 2012 beating death of 78-year-old disabled veteran Paul Quandt during a home-invasion robbery.

“May you find mercy in (God's) court, but in this courtroom, this court can find no basis to extend mercy based upon the crimes that were committed,” Moseley said in his Gainesville courtroom. “I have a responsibility ... in holding an evil-doer responsible for your participation in this truly heinous event.”

In January, a jury deliberated less than an hour before finding Martin, 24, guilty of first-degree murder, home-invasion robbery, kidnapping and other charges related to the crimes against Quandt on Jan. 9, 2012, in his Blues Creek home in northwest Gainesville.

Her cousin, Austin M. Jones, 23, has yet to stand trial on similar charges.

Authorities allege Martin enlisted Jones to commit the home-invasion robbery that led to Quandt's death and that the suspects fled in Quandt's car, which police spotted nearby when they were responding to the house.

Quandt was beaten so badly, a prosecutor said, that his face was disconnected from his skull. Quandt was somehow able to untie himself and get to his neighbor's house for help. He died about a week after the beating.

Several members of Quandt's family spoke in court to press for the harshest possible sentence. They noted that Martin got to know Quandt when she was hired as a home aide through a local business.

“Maranda came to dad as a caregiver. I don't know when but at some point she began to see him as a frail, weak man -- vulnerable,” said Quandt's son, Paul Quandt. “She stopped seeing him as a person. She became a predator at that point.”

Quandt's daughters, Thea Gargulak and Rebecca Potthast, held hands as they remembered their dad as a man with a great zest for life and a strong streak of perseverance that enabled him to get help that night so that the suspects were caught.

“He believed and trusted in people. That day in January, that trust was broken. She did the most reprehensible act imaginable,” Potthast said. “Maranda should never see society. Being a person who has worked with the elderly in care-giving professionally myself, it is unfathomable to me what she put him through.”

Martin read long passages of the Bible including Job 19, Psalm 7 and Ecclesiastes 3 in asking for mercy. She also asked for mercy for Jones, whom she approached about committing the robbery to get money and goods from Quandt's home.

Eventually Martin apologized to the Quandt family.

“Is there anything I can say to you to help heal your broken hearts? I know that no amount of words can change the past. ... I know that you have lost someone who is irreplaceable,” Martin said. “I am not a bad person. I never hurt anyone and I didn't want anyone to get hurt. I never wanted such a horrible thing to happen to him, and from the bottom of my heart I want to say to you I am sorry.”

The death penalty was not sought because Martin cooperated with authorities in the investigation.

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