NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey insurance salesman convicted of plotting to kill his wife in a crime that inspired the bestselling book "Blind Faith" and a TV movie has died.
New Jersey's Department of Corrections said Robert O. Marshall died Saturday at South Woods State Prison in southern New Jersey. Citing privacy rules, the department didn't disclose a cause of death. Marshall was 75.
Marshall was convicted in 1986 of arranging the slaying of his wife, Maria. She was found shot to death in a picnic area along the Garden State Parkway as the couple returned from a night in Atlantic City. Prosecutors contended Marshall had his wife killed so he could collect a $1.5 million life insurance policy.
Marshall was to have appeared before the state parole board next month, according to parole board Chairman James Plousis. Marshall's two sons had testified at a victim impact hearing this month, Plousis said.
For nearly 20 years, Marshall was first in line for execution in New Jersey after the state reinstated the death penalty in 1982. But his death sentence was overturned in 2004 when a judge agreed with Marshall that his defense lawyer had erred by not calling any witnesses in the penalty phase of his trial. New Jersey abolished the death penalty three years later.
In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Marshall maintained his innocence and said he was framed. Referring to his move from death row to the prison's general population, Marshall said: "You always have that hanging over your head. You think your appeals are going to run out and you're going to take the long walk."
His story was the subject of Joe McGinniss' book "Blind Faith" and a 1990 movie of the same name.
The case resurfaced last year when Larry Thompson, who had been acquitted of being the triggerman by the same jury that convicted Marshall, confessed to the crime. In prison in Louisiana for armed robbery at the time, he told authorities that witnesses who said he was in Louisiana when Maria Marshall was killed were lying or mistaken.