Criminal Justice

Wife-Murderer Made Infamous by 'Blind Faith' Book and TV Movie Is Denied Early Release

A New Jersey insurance salesman whose contract-for-hire murder of his wife became high profile after Joe McGinniss wrote a best-selling true crime book about it, Blind Faith, that was made into a television miniseries has been denied early release from prison.

Robert O. Marshall, 72, who is serving a life sentence, had argued that health problems and a model disciplinary record in prison should result in his early release, the Asbury Park Press reports.

However, State Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels said Marshall’s list of claimed health problems, ranging from diabetes to post-nasal drip, “does not rise to the level of severity to warrant release,” especially given the nature of his crime against his 42-year-old wife, Maria. The judge made the ruling in a Tuesday opinion, which was released Thursday.

Marshall was originally sentenced to the death penalty. But he won a sentence reduction from Daniels in 2006 after a federal judge found that he hadn’t received effective assistance of counsel during the penalty phase of his murder trial and the state decided not to retry the penalty phase of the case.

Marshall, who has been incarcerated since his arrest in December 1984 for his wife’s slaying several months earlier, had sought a further sentence reduction, to 30 years, from Daniels, according to the newspaper. He will be eligible for parole in 2014, after serving 30 years.

As detailed in the McGinniss book, Marshall was accused of hiring men from Louisiana to murder his wife during a purported robbery after he pulled off the Garden State Parkway into an isolated picnic area one night in September 1984. Marshall was having an affair with another woman at the time, the book reported.

The New York Times reported about the 2006 resentencing, noting that one of the Marshalls’ three sons said he believes his father is innocent, while another said he believes his father is guilty.

“I accept full responsibility that my actions led to her death,” Marshall said of his wife at the hearing, at which he also acknowledged having made a “terrible mistakes,” the Times reported. “I’m deeply sorry for my actions, but I can’t change the past,” he continued. “However, I can change the future.”

The New York Times has a page listing its prior coverage of the case.

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