William Marshall

In the last two cases that I have discussed here I have mentioned that an appeal record was not found and how much I like the information that they provide. This case did in fact have an appeals record that I could read and go through but I must say I still seem rather confused in the case when it pertains to the evidence in which was available and used to convict William Marshall. The biggest obstacle that prosecutors obviously faced in this crime was time. The murder of twenty-one year old Robin Hoynes occurred on October 30, 1984 and a conviction was not obtained in that case until October 5, 2007, nearly twenty-three years later.

On the morning of October 31, 1984 an employee of the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Torrance California went to work and prepare for the opening. Robin Hoynes had been the closing manager the night before. The woman entered the building and would find Robin's body laying on the floor in the office. It was clear that she was dead considering all of the blood around her.

Authorities quickly zeroed in on William Marshall. He had been fired from the KFC just days prior to Robin being murdered and after hearing from the owner that Marshall was to come to the store and return his uniforms the night before they went looking for him it seems. According to the owner he had gone into the store at about 7 pm to help Robin with paperwork and to meet Marshall who was to meet him there to return his uniforms but also to retrieve a briefcase he had left there. It was unclear exactly what time the owner reported leaving the store, saying that based on what he could determine on what it appears Robin was working on at the time of her death it was likely between ten and fifteen minutes after he had left. The coroner would estimate the time of death occurred between 10 pm and 2 am. One thing I found interesting in my research, that included the appeals paper was I never determined if the uniforms that were supposed to be returned were found in the store, or anywhere for that matter. There was only the notation that he was to go to the store to turn them in. There was information that the briefcase he was scheduled to pick up was still in the store.

Marshall had only been working at the store a few weeks when he was fired. He had transferred from another store and had become an assistant manager there. According to the owner in the short time Marshall was there he had first an attendance problem and apparently came in very late for work. On the second incident the owner suspended him for four days. The second time he was suspended was on October 20th. This time it was after money had gone missing from the store safe twice. According to the owner this had never happened before Marshall had come to work there. He also stated that Marshall had asked for cash advances and that only the owner, Marshall and Robin Hoynes had the safe combination and keys to the store. On October 22nd the locks to the store were changed as was the combination to the safe. On October 26th Marshall was fired. According to the owner Marshall all but admitted apparently of taking the money as he gave him a letter offering to pay it back. It does not seem that formal charges of any kind were filed against him for that. Then came the night of the 30th in which the owner stated he had planned to meet Marshall at the store. I found nothing that stated if there had been a time set and only information that Marshall did not come while the man was still there with Robin.

Authorities theorized that Robin had opened the door to her killer because when they opened the safe the money from that night had been deposited into the safe. According to information the policy had changed and the night manager was either to deposit the money on their way home or deposit it the following morning after taking it home with them. In my opinion this could have simply been an assumption on the part of the authorities. It is possible, at least in my mind, that while working on the paperwork she placed the money into the safe just in case anyone came into the store and may have had intentions of removing it before she left for home. This is not to say that I do not think the authorities had a plausible theory, I am only saying that without knowing facts, more than one theory could be true. Pry marks on the safe indicated that the person who had come in and committed the murder had attempted to open the safe. There were drops of blood throughout the room, two of which were on the safe itself. In 1984 only blood type could have been determined.

Although authorities talked to Marshall the day following the murder and they would arrest him on November 10th claiming he had “cased” his previous Kentucky Fried Chicken store to rob it (although aborted it both times) after the murder apparently it seems the prosecutor would not file charges and Marshall was released. Authorities would say that he had two knives and gloves on him and was clothed in camouflage pants and boots at the time of his arrest.

The case was reopened in 2004 and it seems it did not take long before Marshall was once again their prime suspect. By now he was working as a Captain for the State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Thousand Palms California. They would arrest him in September of 2006 at his firehouse. By this time it appears that they had also talked to Yvonne Williams who had given him an alibi for the night of the murder. The couple it seems had long split up and now Williams was telling a new story. She would tell authorities that in 1984 she had lied to them about Marshall being with her the entire night and that he had personally confessed to her that he had committed the crime.

In September of 2007 Marshall would go on trial and face murder charges. While the charge was first degree murder, with special circumstances it does not appear that the prosecution sought the death penalty in this case. It is not completely clear on exactly what kind of evidence the prosecution really had or how they had gotten it. Of course they had Williams' testimony that he had confessed but that alone, especially considering she admitted to lying in the beginning was not very solid in my opinion. By now the blood at the scene could be analyzed by DNA and it was determined that all the blood at the scene belonged to Robin. In all of the information I found, including the 2009 appeal, it seems that the main evidence against him surrounded a piece of foam that had been found at the scene of the crime. According to authorities this piece of foam came from the boots that they allege Marshall was wearing on the night of the crime. Now, there was conflicting information on whether those boots had been taken into evidence in 1984 and never returned or if they had been found again in 2005 when Marshall's home was searched. Just how those searches occurred seemed to be in question however. There was indication that in April of 2005 officers had been in his home and they saw several different pairs of shoes and boots in his closet but it seems that an official warrant was not available for them to seize items and the claim is that a month later many of these shoes were gone when another search was conducted. My research indicated that the authorities were claiming that one of these pairs of shoes had the thick foam that was much like that found at the scene, but as I said another source seemed to claim that when Marshall was arrested in 1984 his boots had been seized and never returned.

The prosecution theory was that Marshall had come to the store after the owner had left and knocked on the employee entrance which prompted Robin to place the money into the safe. They theorized that once inside Marshall had attacked Robin from behind, stabbing her twice in the back and then attempted to use the combination that he knew on the safe. They believed that since the combination was changed without his knowledge and obviously he could not open it that he attempted to pry the safe open and failed. They then believe that before walking out of the store he had returned to Robin and had slit her throat, leaving her to die.

The defense of course argued, as we often see, that Yvonne Williams' testimony could not be reliable considering that she had already admitted to lying to the police in 1984 so there was no way to tell that she was currently telling the truth. They also argued that when Marshall was arrested in 1984 the knife that he had in his possession was examined and that it was determined that it could not have been the knife used in the murder. Addressing this issue the prosecution presented a witness who would claim that the initial examiner had been wrong in their assessment. But, to be fair, even if they were saying twenty-three years later that the knife in his possession could have been the murder weapon no one seemed to claim to have found any blood on him, or any of the items in his possession, nor any of those that were claimed he had worn on the night of the murder. In addition to this it seems that Robin Hoynes' car was never found so forensics could not be had from her vehicle indicating how it left the store parking lot.

On October 5, 2007, after deliberations lastest about a day, William Marshall was convicted of first degree murder. He would later be sentenced to life without parole. In 2011 his conviction and sentence were affirmed. I went through this appeal and much of the information that I have brought here came from that appeal as it gave not just a background of the case but also those things presented at trial. I realize that cold cases are often hard to solve and that those that occurred prior to DNA being available are that much harder. I also know that just because a case is hard to solve, does not mean that it cannot be solved. That being said, I have difficulties with this case. I have never heard of a foam from a shoe connecting someone in a case, let alone seemingly being the only form of evidence against someone. California is not one of the states in which their Department of Corrections website gives a lot of information so I really have no way of saying what sort of criminal background he may or may not have had prior to this conviction, nor can I say how he has handled or behaved in prison. I am not going to tell you that Marshall is innocent of this crime, because I cannot say this for a fact. What I can say is that based on the information that I have obtained I am unsure how the jury came to the conclusion that they did and sent a man to prison for the rest of his life.


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