Making a representation of his life: Robert Marshall’s 2001 genocide quarrel interview
February 24, 2015 - Picnic Time
EDITOR’S NOTE: This talk with Brian Donohue, published in The Star-Ledger in Apr 2001, was a initial time Robert Marshall spoke publicly after his murder conviction.
TRENTON —The golden marriage rope on Robert Marshall’s left palm glimmers in a drab fluorescent light of New Jersey’s genocide row.
He binds a print of his blond smiling wife, that he keeps in a design support crafted from squares of colored paper he sliced with a true pin from a pages of National Geographic and Islands magazines.
For many prisoners, a print and ring would be small some-more than tokens of yearning for a adore left on a outside.
But Marshall, 61, is initial in line for execution on New Jersey’s genocide row. He was convicted of employing dual group to kill Maria Marshall, a mother he still insists he loved, so he could collect $1.5 million in life word and continue his event with another woman.
The ring is a same one a prosecutor indicted Marshall of wearing to fool a jury in his 1986 hearing into desiring he desired his mother too many to have her shot in a behind of a conduct by a hired gunman late during night in a isolated cruise area on a Garden State Parkway.
Marshall is wearing it, 15 years later, as he sits down inside a steel-enclosed visitors opposite in Trenton State Prison for a initial talk given his conviction.
“For years we couldn’t move myself to keep my wife’s design in plain view,” he said. “Now we have her design in one of my frames sitting on tip of my TV, and we demeanour during it all a time.”
RELATED: Marshall dies in prison, available release hearing
The murder-for-hire case, one of New Jersey’s many barbarous homicides, spawned a best-selling book “Blind Faith,” a story of sex and greed, and a eponymous radio movie.
Marshall, of Toms River, has mislaid 6 authorised appeals, yet a Court of Appeals for a Third Circuit in Philadelphia final week concluded to cruise either his counsel unsuccessful to paint him effectively and either prosecutors funded justification auspicious to him. His open defenders also are seeking to free a box in state court.
But prosecutors contend that for all of his authorised maneuvering, time is using out. They contend Marshall is expected to be a initial chairman executed in New Jersey given a associate wife-murderer, Ralph J. Hudson of Atlantic County, was electrocuted in 1963.
The existence is not mislaid on Marshall. “If they’re going to defend it,” he pronounced of a genocide sentence, “then it’s customarily a matter of time for me.”
One final sale
So, 18 years after shutting his final deal, a former top-selling word attorney has damaged his overpower to make one final sale: his innocence.
“I’m not perplexing to contend that we didn’t do something stupid,” he says. “But we had zero to do with my wife’s death. we feel obliged for it, of course, since if we had not messed around, had we remained true to my wife, I’m certain she would be alive today. But we was not obliged for her death. we was not concerned in a conspiracy.”
Marshall was convicted of employing a Louisiana male to kill his mother as a integrate returned home from a night of Atlantic City gambling. The jury found Marshall had betrothed to compensate Billy Wayne McKinnon $65,000 to kill his mother so he could collect $1.5 million in life word policies to compensate off a towering of debt. One of those policies was purchased a morning of a murder.
McKinnon was convicted of employing another Louisiana man, Larry Thompson, to be a trigger man. But McKinnon, who had cut a understanding with prosecutors, served customarily 3 months in prison, and Thompson walked after a jury found him not guilty. A fourth purported conspirator, Bobby Cumber, also of Louisiana, is portion 30 years as a center male who inspected records between McKinnon and Marshall.
Marshall doesn’t repudiate he hired McKinnon, yet he says he did so customarily to settle if his mother knew about his affair. But he says McKinnon saw him leave Harrah’s after winning $6,000, and that he killed Maria Marshall while robbing a dual of them.
“I didn’t wish to do divided with her,” he says. “I wanted to customarily get divided from her.”
So far, nobody who matters believes him.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal, and a New Jersey Supreme Court refused to overturn his self-assurance or sentence.
Two of his 3 sons have disowned him. Chris Marshall, 34, a conduct swimming manager during Lehigh University, final communicated with his father in 1987. His note said, “I hatred you” 7 times. Another son, Robbie, 35, hasn’t called or created Marshall in 15 years. Only his youngest, John, now 30 and vital in Pennsylvania, still believes in his father’s ignorance and visits him regularly. He did not lapse phone calls for comment.
Kevin Kelly, a firebrand prosecutor who put Marshall behind bars, now practices law in Brick Township. The case, in his view, was open and shut.
“I held him in so many lies,” Kelly says of Marshall. “You didn’t have to be a star hearing counsel to review him.”
He says he still receives visit phone calls about a box – from law students, from reporters, and from people who review Joe McGinnis’ “Blind Faith” and have a doubt or two.
“This box has taken on a life of a own,” he says.
Though he says his romantic connection to a box has faded, he had a flashback recently when he was in a sanatorium to bear angioplasty. “God, I’m going to die before he does,” he says he remembers thinking.
Marshall’s face has aged customarily a nick by a dark days and years on Death Row, yet a slicked-back black hair he wore in a ’80s has thinned and faded to white.
As one of 17 inmates on Death Row, he is authorised no hit visits and is available to be out of his dungeon for customarily one hour a day. He customarily spends that time in a distraction enclosure with his reserved partner, Jesse Timmendequas, who was condemned to genocide for raping and slaying 7-year aged Megan Kanka.
“I read, we watch TV and we write,” he says.
And he tries, as tough as he can, not to consider about a day when he competence be strapped down and injected with a poison that will kill him. In 5 hours of interviews, he brushes a doubt aside again and again with a discerning comment, redirecting a review elsewhere.
“I’ve suspicion about it, yet we don’t spend a lot of time meditative about it. But we have to be realistic, we guess, to some extent,” he says finally, sighing.
The frozen face eases and lightens customarily when he talks about his life before his affair, before a murder, before a trial.
Marshall binds adult smiling photos of his wife, his sons, a sprawling residence in Toms River – one from a front, and one from customarily over a in-ground swimming pool. He tells longwinded stories of summer vessel rides on Barnegat Bay.
“You see how happy they were, their pleasing smiles,” he says. “There’s no approach we would destroy that kind of complacency that existed within my family. It was going to be bad adequate that we were going to apart and eventually divorce. But to harm Maria, no way, not ever. That’s something we could never do.”
The accoutrements of a high-flying life of a tip salesman for Provident Mutual, who gathering his Cadillac Eldorado to a nation club, threw gift auctions that raffled off fur coats and Mercedes, are prolonged gone.
And while he now wears jail khakis and plain white T-shirts, a salesman’s suaveness emerges as he wipes a dirt off a opposite in front of him, and pulls out a folder containing a smoke-stack of papers, warming for a pitch.
There is a list of 22 instances where prosecutors erred, including unwell to tell a jury that Sarann Kraushaar, his mistress, had been postulated shield for testifying that Marshall had told her that he wished he could get absolved of his wife. There are financial statements that he says uncover his debt was manageable. There is an unknown minute he says was sent to him observant a pivotal declare lied.
All of it, he says, proves his story: that he hired McKinnon to perform an review to settle either his mother was wakeful of his event with Kraushaar.
Of Marshall’s theories, Kelly, a prosecutor, says, “It’s a man who apparently has been sitting in jail for 16 years and has zero improved to do than lay and consider about what he should have pronounced and lifted if he were to go to hearing all over again in an bid to get off a hook.”
In 1991, a state Supreme Court inspected Marshall’s judgment after reversing 27 true genocide sentences. In doing so, a justice called a prosecution’s box “weighty and compelling.”
“They had to take a position on a genocide chastisement and they chose my box to do it with, since I’m a white, middle-class guy,” he said, speculating. “They didn’t wish an bankrupt black suspect to be a initial one.”
In a end, looking over all a justification that he says exonerates him, Marshall points to one final reason that he would never have killed his wife: His possess selfishness.
He and Kraushaar had skeleton to leave their spouses and live together in a rented bungalow in Manahawkin. And that devise would never be probable if Maria was killed and he were stranded holding caring of a kids.
“John was 13, and we all knew that Maria had to be there for him in sequence for Sarann and we to be happy in a attribute that we were going to establish,” he says.
“She had to get adult each morning and make his breakfast, make his lunch, get him off to propagandize and do a shopping, do a cooking and be there for him,” Marshall says of his wife. “I wasn’t going to be means to do that in my new purpose with Sarann. So it customarily doesn’t make any sense.”
Until a appeals run out, until a needle is put in his arm, Marshall will keep on offered his story.
“You gamble we am,” he says. “I delight in my wretchedness and have been for 15 years, meditative we should have won this thing and didn’t, and all of a agonise that that has caused.”
While he fights, he says, he’ll keep on wearing Maria Marshall’s marriage ring.
“Maybe” Kelly speculates, “he customarily wore it for a interview.”
Brian Donohue might be reached during firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @briandonohue. Find NJ.com on Facebook.