Naval officer who killed wife with crossbow sentenced to life in prison

Evidence shows he plotted wife’s death

A Navy chief petty officer who shot his estranged wife to death with a crossbow in Algiers was sentenced Tuesday to spend the rest of his life in prison without hope of parole.

David Marx, 46, stood quietly as Criminal District Court Judge Ben Willard delivered his sentence. His hair was still shaved in a military buzz cut, but he was wearing shackles and an orange prison jumpsuit.

Neither Marx’s son, who found his mother’s lifeless body in his bedroom, nor his girlfriend, with whom he was trying to start a new life when he killed his wife, was in court to support him.

Prosecutors said Marx was leading a double life. He was transferred to a military base in Virginia in 2010, but his wife, Mary Marx, and their 12-year-old autistic son stayed behind in Algiers. Marx began dating another woman and moved in with her and her son.

Prosecutors Fran Bridges and Payal Patel said he grew tired of financially supporting both families. He and his wife had not been happy for years, he said.

For a month, he admitted to police, he plotted her murder. He bargain-hunted for his weapon; police found a handwritten list pricing crossbows. He drove from Virginia to Pensacola, Fla., with his girlfriend, then left in the middle of the night to catch his wife by surprise the next morning.

Marx, a sailor for 24 years, arrived at their home on Nunez Drive in Algiers Point before dawn on May 25, 2011. He crawled underneath the house with the crossbow, waited for his wife to leave to take their son to school, then crawled back out and went inside, now covered in mud.

He told police it was his wife’s fault their marriage had crumbled. He said she was violent and that she beat, drugged and starved their son. She might have been on drugs herself, he said, and she had driven the boy to the point of contemplating suicide.

When his wife returned to the house, she walked in the back door. He raised the crossbow, so powerful it can launch an arrow the full length of a football field in one second.

She said nothing, he said. She just looked at him “like she’d seen the devil.”

He fired an arrow that severed her spinal cord and caused instant paralysis. She fell back, still alive. So he reloaded and fired again at her face.

She died in agony, prosecutors said.

He broke the bow into pieces and threw them away as he made his way back to his girlfriend in Florida, he told police.

Marx is also charged with obstruction of justice for destroying the weapon, but prosecutors opted to try that case separately.

He eventually confessed to investigators from the New Orleans Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

At trial, he tried to argue that investigators had coerced and tricked him into giving a false confession, but jurors didn’t buy it. They deliberated for just 90 minutes before finding Marx guilty as charged of second-degree murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.

Marx’s attorneys, Frank DeSalvo, Bruce Netterville and Brigid Collins, declined to comment, but they said he plans to appeal his conviction and sentence.