Cold case was reopened in 2004, leading police to new evidence about the slaying of an employee at a Torrance restaurant.By

Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 29, 2007

A former state fire captain was convicted Friday in the 1984 slaying of a restaurant manager stabbed during a botched late-night robbery at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Torrance.

William Charles Marshall, now 46, had worked at the eatery as an assistant manager but was accused of stealing from the restaurant safe and was fired four days before the killing.

During a monthlong trial, prosecutors argued that Marshall returned after the restaurant closed on Oct. 30, 1984, with the intention of murdering whoever was on duty and emptying the safe.

Employees discovered the body of the victim, Robin Lucille Hoynes, 21, of Whittier, in the restaurant's kitchen the next morning. There was no sign of forced entry, but someone had tried without success to pry open the safe.

Hoynes had been stabbed and her throat slit.

Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, who prosecuted the case, said the verdict brought a long-sought sense of relief to Hoynes' family members, who regularly attended the trial and were haunted for years by her killing.

"They said they never thought this day would come. They had just pretty much given up," Lewin said. "I'm so gratified that the family after so many years finally gets justice."

Marshall faces life without parole when he is sentenced Oct. 26.

Detectives zeroed in on Marshall as a suspect immediately after the killing. But prosecutors declined to file charges at the time. Marshall's girlfriend claimed that he had been with her at home the night of the killing, and detectives had no conclusive evidence linking him to the slaying.

Lewin, who prosecutes cold cases, reopened the case in 2002.

By then, Marshall was working for the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Investigators got the break they needed when they reinterviewed Marshall's former girlfriend, Yvonne Williams.

Williams recanted her previous story and said Marshall had told her about the crime.

Lewin said Williams knew key details about the killing that police had withheld from the public.

In September 2006, a grand jury indicted Marshall on a murder charge with a special allegation of murder during an attempted robbery.