Robert McGill, appearing in a San Diego courtroom on charges that he murdered his wife in their cruise ship cabin, argued with his attorney and demanded to speak with the victim's family.
After his attorney entered a not guilty plea, McGill asked permission to speak from the judge. The defense attorney immediately went to McGill's side and the two began to argue. People sitting in the courtroom could hear some of the conversation.
McGill demanded to say something to the victim's family.
“I need to make a statement now. They’re suffering now," he was overheard telling his attorney. “I think they’re suffering now and need to hear it from me.”
McGill is accused of strangling his wife aboard the Carnival cruise ship Elation while the couple were on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate their retirement.
The ship left San Diego on Saturday, July 11 and spent two days in Cabo San Lucas. During the final leg of the trip, Tuesday around 8 or 9 p.m., ship staff responded to a report of a domestic dispute between a husband and wife, according to the FBI.
When the staff arrived to the cabin they found the body of 55-year old Shirley McGill from Winnetka, Calif. Her husband Robert McGill was found outside the cabin and detained on the ship by crew until the FBI arrested him Thursday.
When speaking to his attorney in federal court Friday McGill also said: "That's putting more financial burden on top of the pain and horror that I've caused this family." It wasn't immediately clear what McGill was referring to.
Shirley McGill worked for the DMV and the cruise was supposed to be a celebration.
Robert McGill teaches an independent study program in Canoga Park, and has worked for the Los Angeles County Office of Education since 1979.
He has two grown sons from a previous marriage. Shirley McGill has children living in Oregon. She had planned to move there and Robert McGill was going to join her when he retired.
U.S. District Magistrate William McCurie Jr. entered a plea of not guilty on McGill's behalf and set a detention hearing for July 23.