A Kernersville woman at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit said in court papers Monday that she didn’t kill her husband; one of his daughters did.
Carolyn Marshall is accused in a lawsuit filed this June in Forsyth Superior Court of remarrying her ex-husband, Bruce Carlton Marshall, 64, after finding out she was cut out of his will and then killing him the next day through an overdose of pain medication and alcohol. The lawsuit alleges that Carolyn Marshall put at least three Fentanyl pain patches on her husband’s body all at once instead of one every 72 hours and giving him alcohol. Bruce Marshall, a U.S. Marine who served in the Vietnam War and retired from the U.S. Postal Service, died Feb. 7, 2013.
The couple had been married 30 years before separating in 2006 and divorcing in January 2013. They remarried Feb. 6, 2013, the day before Bruce Marshall died.
In a response filed Monday by her attorneys, George Cleland and George Cleland IV, Carolyn Marshall, who has not been charged criminally in her husband’s death, denied the allegations and said that Bridgette Marshall Yaeger, one of Bruce Marshall’s two daughters, should be named the defendant in the wrongful-death lawsuit and not her.
Carolyn Marshall also alleges in her response that Blair Marshall Beck, Bruce Marshall’s other daughter, should not have been made executor of her father’s estate because she failed to take the state-required oath. Carolyn Marshall had been the executor of Bruce Marshall’s estate but Beck successfully sought to remove her. Beck filed the wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of her father’s estate.
John Vermitsky, one of two attorneys representing Bruce Marshall’s estate, said by email, "These spurious allegations made by Carolyn Marshall are categorically false and represent a transparent attempt by Ms. Marshall to hide the fact that she is responsible for the death of her husband. We look forward to proving the truth to twelve citizens of Forsyth County."
The lawsuit said that Carolyn Marshall constantly complained about her husband and his alcoholism but had to continue seeing him because she was financially dependent on him. When the couple divorced, however, she drove around in her neighborhood with a drink in her hand yelling that she was free, according to the lawsuit.
Carolyn Marshall, the lawsuit alleges, immediately regretted her decision to divorce after realizing she had been cut out of the will in accordance with a separation agreement and that she would no longer share in Bruce Marshall’s pension or benefits related to her husband’s military service or post office employment.
But Carolyn Marshall, while acknowledging problems in her marriage related to her husband’s alcoholism, said in her response that she remained devoted to him and continued to care for him with his various health problems even after they separated. And when they divorced, the couple immediately regretted it, Carolyn Marshall said in her response. In fact, she said, Bruce Marshall wanted to find a way to stop the divorce but it was too late.
Carolyn Marshall also alleges that on Feb. 7, 2013, when her husband died, she had placed two Fetanyl patches on her husband, and that Bridgette Yaeger or her husband must have put the third one on. She also said that Bridgette Yaeger was the one who gave Bruce Marshall alcohol that day, not her, as it is alleged in the lawsuit.
Carolyn Marshall said that on that day she left her husband’s house for several hours to run errands and had told Bridgette Yaeger to make sure her father didn’t fall too deeply into sleep. When she got back, Bridgette Yaeger was watching television and Bruce Marshall was slumped in his bed, fast asleep, according to Carolyn Marshall’s response. Bridgette Yaeger left, and Carolyn Marshall said she watched television for a few minutes, left to feed her dog and returned 30 minutes later to find that Bruce’s air tube was blowing constantly “indicating that he was no longer breathing.” Carolyn Marshall called 911.
Bruce Marshall was later declared dead at the house.
Carolyn Marshall said in her response that their marriage was difficult because Bruce Marshall had violent outbursts, was arrested multiple times and struggled with alcohol. But she said she stayed with him, hoping that he might change.
Lt. Kevin Clodfelter of the Kernersville Police Department said in June that the criminal investigation into Bruce Marshall’s death was closed on Aug. 29, 2013 after it was reviewed by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Martin. Clodfelter said Carolyn Marshall cooperated with the investigation and that police found no evidence of foul play.
No trial date has been set for the lawsuit.