A Virginia woman was found guilty of murder in the death of her elderly husband.
Paula Thompson-Marshall shot and killed 76-year-old Rolf Thompson Oct. 5 in their home near Alexandria’s Old Town neighborhood.
Officers received a report of a shooting about 10:45 a.m. and found Marshall suffering from a gunshot wound inside the house in the 1100 block of Duke Street. He was pronounced dead at a hospital about 11:30 a.m.
Rolf Marshall was killed during a drunken dispute over a dog bite.
“My husband gave me a gun,” Paula Thompson Marshall would tell a 911 dispatcher just after shooting her husband Oct. 5. “I didn’t know it was loaded. He was being stupid about the dog, and now I’ve shot him accidentally.”
That morning, Thompson Marshall had been bitten on the hand by their aging Akita, and prosecutors and defence attorneys agree that led to a bitter fight in the couple’s Alexandria home. Thompson Marshall had for months argued that it was time to put the dog down, but her husband had resisted.
She told police that Marshall tossed her a .38-caliber revolver and told her, ” ‘Here’s a loaded gun. If you want to shoot it, go ahead.’ ” She fired, once, hitting her husband’s side as he sat across from her in his favourite armchair.
That morning, Thompson Marshall had been bitten on the hand by their aging Akita, and prosecutors and defence attorneys agree that led to a bitter fight in the couple’s Alexandria home.
The couple argued that about whether to euthanize their elderly dog, and Thompson-Marshall shot her husband with a .38 caliber revolver, according to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office.
She called police and claimed the shooting was an accident.
Several days after Marshall’s death, the dog was euthanized.
Paula told police that 76-year-old Rolf tossed her a .38-caliber revolver and told her, ” ‘Here’s a loaded gun. If you want to shoot it, go ahead.’ ” She fired, once, hitting her husband’s side as he sat across from her in his favourite armchair.
Rolf Marshall a longtime Navy captain and maritime lawyer, married Thompson Marshall, an aesthetician who worked in area beauty salons, about 12 years before his death, but not all member of his family was on board.
Alexandria police seal the neighborhood in the Marshall’s Alexandria community with tape at midday on Oct 5 last year
Rolf’s children Alex and Eric Marshall told the court their father was a brilliant man who loved his family and the sea. After he married Thompson Marshall, however, he withdrew from family and friends, they said.
“For the last 10 years, everything has been different,” Eric Marshall testified. “Now that he’s gone . . . that withdrawal is final.”
The dog, an aging Akita, was one of several stressors in a marriage, testimony showed. It was euthanized several days after Paula shot her husband.
Marshall, 76, was suffering from prostate cancer. In a video played at trial, his then 47-year-old wife, berated him for not taking better care of himself.
“You’re going to die at 79, and I’m counting the f—ing hours and minutes,” she said. Neighbours testified that months before the shooting, Thompson Marshall had complained about her husband’s health. In another video played at trial, she told her husband she had met someone else and wanted a divorce. Dani Lane, a neighbour, testified that the constant fighting was so bad that she couldn’t sit on her patio: It was “like watching a Hitchcock movie,” she said.
Financial problems exacerbated the strains in the marriage. Records show their Old Town Alexandria homeowners’ association sued them for failing to pay dues. They also were behind on their mortgage and in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.
The couple both had a drinking issue, both sides conceded. They were drinking the morning of the shooting.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter argued that the killing could not have been accidental. It’s clear when a revolver is loaded, he said, because the bullets are visible. And to fire a revolver, you must either cock the hammer or give “a relatively long, heavy pull” on the trigger, a state expert testified.
“When you get into an alcohol-fuelled argument with your husband, when you pick up a loaded gun and point it at your husband, when you do that and pull the trigger, that’s really the end of the rope,” Porter said. “
AAlexandria police at the Marshall’s Old Towne Alexandria home, Oct 5, 2016
We’re not saying she’s a psychotic killer or public enemy number one, but that this murder was the result of 12 to 18 months of a deteriorating marriage marked by verbal abuse and financial difficulties.”
In mitigation, defence attorney Marina Medvin pointed to Thompson Marshall’s panic and despair after the shooting as evidence that she had no intention of killing her husband.
After a three-day trial in Alexandria Circuit Court, a jury Thursday found Thompson Marshall guilty of murder in the second degree and use of a firearm in commission of a felony,. She is facing a sentence of 14 years in prison on the charges.
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