Ronald Marks was the son of Laurence and Joy (nee Birchmore) Marks, Joy being related to Allen Birchmore, the late husband of Judith Warneke.
From the Adelaide Advertiser, Saturday, November 2nd, 1994
By MICHELLE WEIDENHOFER
Even before Ronald Marks’s body was flown home for burial, his grieving family started receiving letters from strangers he had stopped to help in the Outback. “He was very generous, loving … he really was a Good Samaritan,” his widow, Mrs Christine Marks, said yesterday.
Mrs Marks was speaking after a Supreme Court jury found Dale Garry Francis Harris, 24, guilty of murdering her husband on the Stuart Hwy, about 90km from Coober Pedy, on September 16 last year.
Mr Marks’ body, with 11 stab wounds to the chest, was found on the side of the road the next day. “He would have stopped to help,” Mrs Marks said outside the court.
Mr Marks’s younger sister, Dawn, said her brother had often stopped to help stranded motorists. “Before his body was flown home … we were getting letters from people we had never met, saying he stopped in the Outback to help them,” she said.
Ms Marks said she was happy justice had been done – “but I wish there was capital punishment”. “There are three children that haven’t got a father,” she said. “It’s not the same any more; it’s ruined our lives.”
Mr Marks, 43, had been driving home to Alice Springs from Adelaide when he stopped to speak to Harris, who had had an accident. Harris also was heading to Alice Springs. He was travelling with his girlfriend, who went to Coober Pedy for help after the accident, leaving Harris at the scene.
Mr Marks was one of several travellers to stop to speak to Harris. He gave him some oranges and water, then offered him a lift to Alice Springs.
Harris was arrested after driving into Coober Pedy in Mr Marks’s car. His clothes were bloodied and be was wearing his victim’s shoes and jumper. At the time of his arrest, Harris denied involvement in the murder but later admitted his police record of interview was a “pack of lies”.
During the trial, he admitted stabbing Mr Marks, but pleaded not guilty on the basis that he was acting in self defence. He claimed Mr Marks hit him on the back of the head with a hard object, probably a rock, after Harris offered him some marijuana. Harris said the blow knocked him out and that after he regained consciousness Mr Marks tried to throttle him.
He said he reached for his pocket-knife and stabbed Mr Marks to save his own life. The jury, after four hours of deliberation, rejected Harris’s explanation.
Although Harris showed no obvious reaction as the jury forewoman pronounced him guilty of murder, one of the female jurors began crying. Harris, who will serve the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, was remanded in custody until a date to be fixed, for submissions on his non-parole period. His lawyer, Mr Craig Caldicott, said he had been asked to “investigate the possibility of appealing”.