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After Thirty Years Louisiana Inmate Reveals Involvement In Murder Of Maria Marshall

Toms River, NJ – 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 Marshall almost thirty years ago.  Mrs. Marshall was shot at approximately 12:30 AM on September 7, 1984 in a picnic area of the Garden State Parkway in Lacey Township, Ocean County, New Jersey.  What makes this cold case most news worthy is that fact that an Atlantic County Jury found Thompson not guilty of Maria Marshall’s murder on March 5, 1986 due to a false alibi presented on behalf of Thompson.

In the early hours of September 7, 1984 members of Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey State Police were directed to the Oyster Creek Picnic Area on the Garden State Parkway.  The body of Maria Marshall was found in the front passenger seat of a white Cadillac registered to her husband Robert O. Marshall.  Mrs. Marshall’s head was leaning over into the driver’s seat.  Mrs. Marshall had been shot twice at close range in the back with what later was determined to be a .45 caliber automatic pistol.  Her husband stated that he and his wife had spent the evening in Atlantic City and were on their way home to Toms River when he noticed a problem with the vehicles right rear tire. Marshall stated he pulled into the picnic area to check the tire, exited the vehicle and was walking to the right rear of his vehicle when he was struck on the head and knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant(s).  When Marshall awoke he stated that he found his wife shot as described above.  Investigators found the right rear tire flat; the loss of air was caused by an 11/2” to 2” inch cut in the side wall where it meets the tread.

A three month investigation took place at the time in New Jersey and the Shreveport, Louisiana area.  In January of 1985 the following individuals, with their ages at the time, were indicted for the murder of Maria Marshall: Robert O. Marshall, 45, of Toms River, NJ, Billy Wayne McKinnon, 41, of Shreveport La., Robert A. Cumber, 45, of Bossier City La. and Larry N. Thompson, 41, of Fair View Alfa, La.

On January 27, 1986 the trial of Marshall and Thompson began in Mays Landing, NJ.  The trial had a change of venue because of the 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.  The same jury returned the death penalty against Marshall.  Thompson who the indictment charged as the shooter of Maria Marshall was found not guilty.  During the defense of Thompson he and his lawyer relied on the testimony of several individuals, among them Thompson’s wife Wanda, his son Brian and his brother Steven who testified that they had seen Thompson in the state of Louisiana on or about the date of the shooting thus giving him an alibi for that date.

After the verdict, Thompson returned to Louisiana where he became involved in other criminal activity.  Thompson is currently incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) where he presently is in the twelfth year of a sentence in excess of fifty years for his part in an armored car robbery, attempted murder of a Shreveport Police officer during the ensuing car chase, and other related charges.

In March of 2013 Investigator Larry Scott of the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office contacted the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office 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.  Caddo Parish and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office remained in touch regarding the progress of this inquiry.

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.

On April 14, 2014 Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney J. Ford McWilliams took an affidavit of Larry N. Thompson who acknowledged that a false alibi was used at his trial for the murder of Maria Marshall.

On April 17, 2014 Caddo Parish Officials secured an affidavit from Brian Thompson, who had previously testified at his father’s trial in February 1986 that his father Larry was with him at a dentist office on the date of the Marshall shooting. Thus, making it impossible that Larry Thompson could have killed Mrs. Marshall.  In this affidavit of the 17th, Brian said he was “inaccurate” because his father did not go with him on this date; it was in fact his mother who went with him to the dentist office.

On April 25, 2014 Chief Churchill interviewed Larry Thompson at Angola prison in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Larry Thompson admitted to Churchill his involvement in the death of Maria Marshall.  Not only, did he say he was in New Jersey on September 6th through 8th 1984.  He also stated that it was he who fired the shots that caused Maria Marshall’s death.  Thompson stated that the alibi defense was used because the receipt given to his wife Wanda by the dental assistant 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.

Larry 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.

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

Prosecutor Coronato stated, “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.”

The law enforcement community, particularly those who worked on the investigation and prosecution of Larry Thompson, are comforted with this news as it confirms what all believed to be the facts thirty years ago.

Prosecutor Coronato wishes to recognize the cooperation, professionalism and dedication of the staff of Charles Rex Scott, District Attorney, First Judicial District of Louisiana in Shreveport, Louisiana; Particularly Investigator Larry Scott and Deputy District Attorney J. Ford McWilliams; without their help this development would not have happened.

 

 

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