Merrillville teen sentenced to 30 years in killing of teacher

Royal Marshall

CROWN POINT | Defense attorney Eric Clark said his 17-year-old client always wanted to accept responsibility and receive his punishment for the July 2011 slaying of an 80-year-old Merrillville woman.

The punishment for Royal Marshall, of Merrillville, came Thursday as a 30-year prison sentence. Marshall will receive credit for the 358 days he already has served in prison.

Last month, Marshall pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Lake Superior Court Judge Salvador Vasquez accepted a plea agreement Thursday, which dismisses charges of murder, murder in the perpetration of a robbery, robbery and auto theft.

During the May hearing, Marshall affirmed the events that led to the July 6 killing of Anna Schulz, a Gary high school teacher, in her home.

Marshall fled from police after a possible burglary was reported in the 6400 block of Taft Street.

He saw a house with an open door in the 2500 block of West 58th Place and attempted to hide there. He startled Schulz while inside her home, grabbed a knife and cut her neck.

When Vasquez first asked Marshall on Thursday if he wanted to comment about the situation, Marshall told him he had nothing to say.

Although Marshall didn't speak initially, Clark said his client is sorrowful.

"There's no sorrow there," Vasquez said.

He said it's rare to have a defendant seeking a plea agreement to "say nothing at all," and he wasn't pleased to see Marshall with "no expression."

Vasquez advised Marshall that he didn't have to accept the agreement and the case could have gone to trial. If Marshall was convicted of the crimes, he would have faced 45 to 65 years in prison, he said.

Marshall later commented when Vasquez again asked if he wanted to speak.

With his head down, he quietly apologized to Schulz's family and said "what I did was wrong."

"I just want to say I'm sorry," Marshall said.

Clark said Marshall isn't good at expressing himself, but he believes his client is remorseful.

He said from "day one" Marshall wanted to plead guilty.

Vasquez said the case was a difficult one to assess. He said there was circumstantial evidence, but no DNA or fingerprints linking Marshall to the crime scene.

Police searched for a murder weapon, but nothing was recovered.

Vasquez advised Marshall that it would be a waste of time to send him letters asking him to modify the agreement. Vasquez told him the sentence "will never be changed."

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