After a pleasant dinner at Harrah's Meadows Restaurant in Atlantic City, Rob and Maria Marshall played blackjack for a couple of hours and walked away with over $6,000. After paying off two small credit markers, they headed for home an hour north in Toms River, N.J. After pulling out of a Garden State Parkway toll booth, Rob felt a distinct vibration from one of the tires. He pulled into a picnic area and noticed that the right rear tire was partially flat. As he was checking the tire he was knocked unconscious from a blow to his head from behind. When he woke up in a pool of his own blood, his pockets turned inside out and the casino winnings missing, he found Maria lying across the front seats bleeding from a wound in her side. After the police arrived he learned that she had died from two gunshots to her back and side.
That was September 7th, 1984. Three months later, Rob was arrested for conspiring to have Maria killed. The 6 week trial of Rob commenced in January, 1986. During the trial Rob revealed that he was planning to leave his wife and had hired a private investigator to determine if Maria was consulting with a divorce lawyer, and to determine the whereabouts of over $15,000 of missing casino winnings.
Acting as a state's witness, the investigator testified that Rob had asked him to kill Maria. He named another man as "the shooter" and cut himself a deal that would limit his jail time to less than 16 months. The deal also allowed him and his family entry into the Federal Witness Protection Program. On March 5th, 1986, Rob was convicted and sentenced to death. Rob's Co-defendant, "the shooter," was able to prove that he was at home at the time of Maria's death, and was acquitted at the same trial.
Rob has been languishing on death row in Trenton for over 13 years while the lawyers from the N.J. Public Defender's Office wade through the appeal process, which has now reached the federal level. In October of 1998, Rob received an anonymous letter which provided a burst of new hope. It reads as follows.
WE HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR CASE WITH GREAT INTEREST. IT IS CLEAR TO US THAT YOU GOT SCREWED AT YOUR TRIAL. WE ARE ALL HOPING THAT YOUR CONVICTION IS OVERTURNED SO YOU CAN GET A NEW TRIAL. WE THOUGHT YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THAT THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FROM THE TRIAL WAS IN N.J. RECENTLY TALKING WITH ONE OF YOUR TRIAL LAWYERS. CONFIDENTIAL SOURCES HAVE INFORMED US THAT HE ADMITTED HE LIED ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN YOUR WIFE'S MURDER AND THAT THE COUNTY INVESTIGATORS HELPED HIM MAKE HIS CONFESSION TO SAVE HIMSELF AND CONVICT YOU. WE
HOPE THIS INFORMATION WILL HELP YOU. GOOD LUCK MR. MARSHALL. WE ARE ALL PRAYING FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
We feel that the investigation of this revealing letter was inadequate and would like your help in raising a Defense Fund to hire a private attorney and investigator to check into this matter further. Any amount you send will be greatly appreciated. Please use the address below. If you have questions for Rob, feel free to include them and we will forward them to him for you.
If you are one of the "friends" who wrote the anonymous letter, please reveal yourself to us, if you are able.
Rob is now 59. He has 6 grand
children, two from each of his sons, who he has not yet met. He
remains very close to his youngest son, John and family. He has not
heard from his older sons, Roby and Chris, for over 10 years. We are
his closest friends now. We
believe in his innocence and we want to help. We hope you will too.
Rob Marshall Defense Fund
P.O. Box 53, Banks St.
Rockaway, NJ. 07866
Anyone who sends a
$10 donation, or more, will receive the bumper sticker above.
Please enclose a self addressed stamped #10 envelope. THANK YOU
FOR MORE INFORMATION EMAIL ROBERT'S SUPPORTERS AT: firstname.lastname@example.org
Execution is the the least Punishment
That Can be Done to a Human Being
Life Without Parole
Robert Marshall's Book is Now Available !
Click on Book below to order through Amazon.com
Death-row inmate book now available
A book written by Robert O.
the longest serving inmate on New
Jersey's death row, will be available in bookstores next week.
"Tunnel Vision: Trial and Error" is
book in which Marshall
writes about life behind bars, capital punishment, and his claim that he
was wrongly convicted of arranging the shooting death of his wife in 1984.
Andrea Sengstacken, editorial
director of New York City-based Algora
Publishing, said 3,000 copies have been printed. The book will cost
$18.95 in paperback and $25.95 in hardcover.
Marshall, 62, was sentenced to death
for hiring three men to murder his
wife, Maria, so he could collect $1.4 million in life insurance and begin
a new life with another woman.
The once-prominent Toms River
insurance broker has since maintained his
innocence. His crimes were chronicled in the best-selling book "Blind
Faith" and in a television miniseries of the same name.
"In a certain sense, it's his
response to the best seller that was
written against him," Sengstacken said, referring to "Blind Faith."
(source: The Record)
In the solitude of his cell on death
row, Robert O. Marshall pecked away
at his aging Smith Corona.
He wrote about being arrested in
connection with his wife's murder, his
journey through the New Jersey court system, and his efforts - so far
unsuccessful - to win a new trial in a Garden State Parkway slaying case
that became the focus of a best-seller, a documentary, and a TV movie.
Now it is Marshall's turn to
His book from prison, Tunnel
Vision, is about to hit bookstores nationwide. And the timing is
important: Marshall could soon become the 1st convicted murderer in New
Jersey to be executed since 1963.
"He's clearly the first in line
now," said his lawyer, Stephen W.
Kirsch, a public defender who also said Marshall could be put to death as
early as this year unless he won relief.
Yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme
Court heard legal arguments on the
sufficiency of one part of the jury instructions in his 1986 trial. Next
month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia is
scheduled to hear a wide-ranging appeal.
If Marshall loses in either place,
could seek review in the U.S.
Supreme Court, which rejected an earlier appeal. Barring an unexpected
development, such as a moratorium on the death penalty, Marshall's final
option, if necessary, would be to seek clemency from Gov. McGreevey.
Marshall, 62, is not typical among
death-row defendants in New Jersey or
the rest of America. He is white and middle-aged, and he was a successful
insurance broker in Toms River, Ocean County, before he was arrested.
He was convicted in 1986 and
sentenced to death for arranging the 1984
murder of his wife, Maria, a homemaker who doted on their three sons and
did charity work for a hospital. She was shot after Marshall pulled their
car into a desolate rest stop along the parkway after an evening at an
Atlantic City casino.
The prosecution contended that
Marshall had hired 2 men for the killing
so that he could collect $1.5 million in life insurance and continue
having an affair. Marshall acknowledged the affair but insisted he had
nothing to do with the killing, which he contended was a robbery.
He started working on the book soon
after he arrived on death row in
March 1986. He dedicated the book to his wife "for her love and
forgiveness"; to their youngest son, John; and to his sister and several
friends who have supported him.
In 1991, his death sentence became
the 1st one upheld by the New Jersey
Supreme Court since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1982. It
had previously overturned 27 death sentences.
Marshall also was rebuffed by a
federal judge, the U.S. Supreme Court,
and on 2 other occasions by the state Supreme Court. The Third Circuit
has scheduled oral argument for March 21.
Yesterday, Kirsch argued that the
judge who presided over Marshall's 1986
trial had not properly instructed the jury on the option of a
nonunanimous verdict on the penalty, which would have meant a life
sentence for Marshall.
But Robert E. Bonpietro, deputy
attorney general, argued that the
case had received ample review. He urged the justices to send a message
that endless appeals will not be tolerated. "The state does have an
interest in finality," he said.
Marshall, who was not in court yesterday, is hoping for final relief.
"I continue searching for that beam
of light that can guide me to a safe
landing; I hope it comes before it's too late," Marshall wrote in the
last sentence of the 217-page book, which will be available in bookstores
in about a week.
The book offers no stunning
revelations but puts forth Marshall's side of
the case and describes the distress of being separated from his family.
Marshall also details life on death
row: food trays slipped through a
slot in the door, a "Welcome Wagon" gift of commissary snack items from
inmates, the isolation, and the anxious wait for court rulings.
His literary agent, Patricia
Jozwiakowski, said Marshall deserved the
chance to tell his side.
"He put a lot of hard work into it,"
said Jozwiakowski, who added that
Marshall had written on the word processor and sent disks back and forth
The publisher, Algora Publishing,
said Tunnel Vision is Marshall's
response to the best-selling book Blind Faith, by Joe McGinniss.
As a convicted murderer, Marshall is
barred from profiting from any book
sales under the state's "Son of Sam" law, and Jozwiakowski said any
profits would go to Marshall's son John.
His other 2 sons became estranged from him after his trial.
In Toms River, where Marshall was a
prominent businessman and a fixture
at the country club, his name stirs up unpleasant memories. Some people
in the Ocean County community said they had not thought about the case
for years - and were not necessarily looking for reminders.
"It was so close to home," said
Debbie Reader, owner of a downtown
florist shop. "It was just too bizarre."
About 50 miles away, in a stark cell
on death row, Marshall, meanwhile,
reads Tom Clancy, W.E.B. Griffin and John Grisham. And he is working on
another writing project: a survival guide for prisoners.
(source: Philadelphia Inquirer)