When John Marshall, 52, walked into his attorney’s office in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon — disheveled, incoherent and injured — lawyer Robert Harris was shocked by what he had to say.
Marshall told him that his neighbor’s body was in the back of his pickup truck. They had been at odds for some time, and on Wednesday, the man threatened him with a gun, he told his attorney.
According to Harris, the man pistol-whipped his client in the face, giving him a bruise and knocking out a tooth. They struggled and fell to the ground. The gun went off.
“Unfortunately, someone, I believe, has passed,” Harris told the News-Press. “But Mr. Marshall … it appears to me as if this was a complete act of self-defense — preservation of life. That’s what he’s telling us.”
So far, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office says that Marshall is not under arrest and they are conducting an investigation into the bizarre case. The dead man was identified by police as Theodore Hubbell Jr.
Speaking to reporters outside of his law office, Harris said that he had recently advised his client to seek a restraining order against the man.
The conflict might have stemmed from Marshall’s plans to renovate a shed that he had placed on a property he purchased in Bokeelia, Fla., Harris said.
“This person had not wanted him to build in that area,” Harris said. “I guess that’s what he was angry about, but there were some consistent threats.”
One neighbor told CBS affiliate WINK News, however, that it was Hubbell who felt threatened by Marshall.
“He said, ‘I think I have a lunatic for a neighbor.’ I don’t know if he used that word, but somebody very not right in the head,” said Jill Hammer. Hubbell “would never have started a confrontation, he would have turned and walked away.”
According to his attorney, Marshall went back out to the property and Hubbell stopped him, saying that he wanted to apologize, according to Harris. Marshall approached Hubbell, who then pulled a gun.
“Mr. Marshall went into some sort of shock and didn’t know what to do,” Harris said. “What he knew was he could trust us.”
Marshall drove some 30 miles from Bokeelia to the lawyer’s office with the body in the back of his truck, Harris said. He may have called his wife, but Harris said that Marshall remembers very little about the drive.
Speaking to reporters late Wednesday, Harris said that Marshall was still “breathing heavy” and “looking like a man who has lost the world.” Later that night, he was taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.
His law office is now a crime scene, which Harris said has put him in a state of disbelief as well.
“They don’t teach you about this in law school, that’s for sure,” he added.