Do-Over in a Murder Case

Marie Hess at her sentencing in 2001. She has been serving a 30-year sentence with parole possible after 25. (Sarah J. Glover / Staff Photographer)

A Burlco judge wants to see a decade-old manslaughter case resolved after the NJ Supreme Court found fault with an emotional sentencing hearing.  Judge Jeanne T. Covert gave the prosecutor and defense until Nov. 14 to report back on the best way to proceed in the case against Marie Hess.  The former bridge toll-taker is charged with killing her husband while he slept. 

The high court said Hess was denied her rights because her lawyer didn't tell the judge that she had feared for her own life and had said her husband had beat her.  The lawyer said he had to keep quiet as a condition of Hess' plea bargain.  Meanwhile, the victim's family was allowed to show an emotional video portraying him as a respected police officer, a good friend and a fisherman who owned a puppy.  His funeral was also featured in the clip.   

She got 30 years.     

Now, Hess may either go to trial, or enter into another plea agreement.  The prosecutor and defense are pouring over the records and re-interviewing potential witnesses.