STARKE, Fla. — A former escort service owner convicted in the slayings of two Florida women was granted a temporary stay of execution Monday, hours before he was to have received a lethal injection for one of those deaths.

Marshall Lee Gore had been scheduled to die at the Florida State Prison at 6 p.m. for the 1988 slaying of Robyn Novick, a 30-year-old exotic dancer. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals approved a motion filed by Gore’s attorney less than two hours before the procedure was expected to begin.

A hearing will be held Thursday in the case.

Gore also had been convicted and sentenced to death in the 1988 slaying of Susan Roark. Novick’s naked body was found in a rural part of Miami-Dade County. Roark’s body was found a few months later in Columbia County in northern Florida.

Florida had two executions earlier this month.

Gore was arrested after attacking a third woman who survived and later testified at his trial in connection with Novick’s death. The survivor said Gore beat her with a rock, choked, raped and stabbed her, leaving her near where Novick’s body was found.

The FBI tracked the woman’s stolen car to Paducah, Ky., and took Gore into custody. When he was found, he had the woman’s bank and credit cards in his jacket pocket, according to court documents.

Upon questioning about all three crimes and shown pictures of Novick’s body, police said his eyes filled with tears and he said, “If I did this, I deserve the death penalty.”

Gore was seen driving in Novick’s yellow Corvette shortly after she went missing, according to trial testimony. There was also evidence shown that Gore stole Roark’s black Ford Mustang after her killing.

Gore initially denied knowing any of the women, according to police. But he later testified that all three women worked for him at an escort service. He said he had been with Novick at a bar the night she died, but did not kill her. He claimed Novick loaned him her car, which he crashed and abandoned, and that the surviving woman was hurt when she tried to jump out of a moving car.

The Florida Supreme court denied his appeals in 2009.

One of his previous lawyers claimed Gore was “mentally deranged” and not responsible for his actions. But several judges concluded he was using a claim of mental illness to manipulate the judicial process.

When asked by a judge in the Novick case if he felt competent to proceed he replied, “I’m absolutely competent. I’m absolutely lucid.” He had frequent verbal outbursts during the trial, laughed out loud and even howled.

A panel of doctors appointed by Gov. Rick Scott also concluded in May that Gore was mentally competent to be executed.

On June 12, the state executed William Van Poyck for the 1987 murder of a prison guard during a botched attempt to free another inmate.

On May 29, the state executed Elmer Carroll for the 1990 rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.

On Monday, Gore received a visit from a Catholic chaplain before it became clear that a temporary stay of execution would be granted.

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