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The Man Acquitted In The Death Of Maria P. Marshall Now Says He Killed Her

Larry Thompson cannot be tried again for the murder due to double jeopardy

Courtesy of findagrave.com
Courtesy of findagrave.com
by Patricia A. Miller

A Louisiana man found not guilty of the contract murder of a well-known Toms River wife and mother nearly 30 years ago now says he killed her, the Ocean County Prosecutor Office said today.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced today the results of a twelve-month cooperative investigation which resulted in an admission by Larry Thompson, 71, of Louisiana in his involvement in the shooting death of Maria P. Marshall almost thirty years ago.

Chief James A. Churchill of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office interviewed Thompson at Angola prison in West Feliciana Parish in Louisiana on April 25.

"Larry Thompson admitted to Churchill his involvement in the death of Maria Marshall, "Coronato said. "Not only did he say he was in New Jersey on Sept. 6 through Sept. 8 1984, he also stated that it was he who fired the shots that caused Maria Marshall's death." 

Celebration in Toms River

"Law enforcement here is celebrating," Prosecutor's Office spokesman Al Della Fave said. "They knew they had him. But there was no way around those false alibis.'

Maria Marshall was shot at approximately 12:30 a.m. on September 7, 1984 in a picnic area of the Garden State Parkway in Lacey Township.

Members of the Prosecutor's Office and New Jersey State Police found Maria Marshall in the front seat of the couple's white Cadillac in the early hours of Sept. 7, 1984 at the Oyster Creek picnic area off the Garden State Parkway.

She had been shot twice in the back at close range with a .45 caliber automatic pistol. Her husband, Robert O. Marshall, told police they had spent the evening in Atlantic City and were on their way back to their Toms River home when he noticed a problem with the car's right rear tire.

Marshall, a well-known Toms River insurance salesman, told police he was walking to the rear of the car to check the tire when someone struck him on the head and knocked him unconscious.

Marshall said when he regained consciousness, he found his wife shot. Investigators found the right rear tire was flat, due to a cut in the side wall where it met the tread.

A three-month investigation in New Jersey and the Shreveport, Louisiana area.  In January of 1985, Marshall, then 45, Billy Wayne McKinnon, then 41, Shreveport, LA, Robert A. Cumber, 45, of Bossier City, La. and Larry N. Thompson, 41, of Fair View Alfa, La. were indicted in the contract murder of Maria Marshall.

The trial of Marshall and Thompson began on Jan. 27, 1986, in Mays Landing. A change of venue was needed due to the tremendous pre-trial publicity in Ocean County.

The trial ended on March 5, 1986.  Marshall was found guilty of offering money or the promise of money to individuals for the murder of his wife and was sentenced to death.

Thompson - charged in the indictment as the shooter - was found not guilty. His defense relied on the testimony of Thompson's wife, Wanda, his son Brian and  his brother Steven, who all testified they had seen him in Louisiana on or about the date of the shooting, which gave him an alibi.

A life of crime

Thompson then returned to Louisiana where he became involved in other criminal activity.  Thompson has served 12 years of a more than 50-year sentence in Louisiana for his part in an armored car robbery, the attempted murder of a Shreveport police officer during an ensuing car chase and other related charges, Coronato said.

Investigator Larry Scott of the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office contacted the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in March of 2013 with information that Thompson was under suspicion of being involved a murder in the Shreveport area.   The victim was with her husband when she was shot by person(s) unknown, Coronato said.

In October of 2013, Chief James A. Churchill (Ret.) - who in 1984 was the Lieutenant in charge of the Major Crime Unit of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and supervised the investigation of Maria Marshall murder - was invited to Shreveport to assist the Caddo Parish authorities in their investigation of this murder due to similarities in the Marshall case.

Thompson admitted in an affidavit on April 14 that a false alibi was used at his trial.

Caddo Parish Officials secured an affidavit from Brian Thompson on April 17. Brian had previously testified at his father’s trial in February 1986 that his father was with him at a dentist office on the date of the Marshall shooting. Brian said he was “inaccurate” because his mother, not his father, went with him to the dentist's office, Coronato said.

Thompson told authorities that the alibi defense was used because the receipt given to his wife Wanda was made out to Larry Thompson.  He said that this alibi was planned during the time he was in jail in New Jersey awaiting trial.  Thompson stated that his alibi witness were either lying or mistaken when they testified on his behalf at his trial in Mays Landing.  

Double Jeopardy

Thompson will not face any charges for his recent statements to Churchill regarding his part in the murder of Maria Marshall.  The United States Constitution grants that no one shall be tried twice for the same crime.  Since the trial jury came back with a not guilty in 1986 the rule of “Double Jeopardy” comes into play, Coronato said.

The individuals that deliberately lied as Thompson’s witnesses also cannot be charged, since the statute of limitations for perjury in New Jersey is five years.

“Though there are no legal avenues we can pursue at this time because our laws preclude further prosecution and substantial time has lapsed since the event occurred, we felt it was important we publicize these developments so that the family and friends of Maria Marshall could find some degree of closure to this tragic event," Coronato said.

The Marshall murder stunned Toms River in 1984. The couple were longtime members of the Toms River Country Club. Robert Marshall was a United Way of Ocean County official. The murder spawned the book "Blind Faith" and a movie of the same name.

Brandy the Dog May 18, 2014 at 09:36 AM
Read the book.
grace May 18, 2014 at 09:54 AM
google it heywood its a horror story!
Mac May 18, 2014 at 10:15 AM
@Mr. Happy - there is nothing Gilmore and/or the Ocean County GOP won't do to turn a buck period, be it Marshall, Manson or Chris Christie - from your knowledgeable padded inside window of sandbox performance Mr. Happy, do you think Gilmore could be related to all three of these profound public figures?
Brandy the Dog May 18, 2014 at 10:17 AM


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