Update: Carnival Cruise Passenger Who Murdered Wife Gets Life

December 9, 2011
Carnival Elation Update, December 9, 2011: According to the Associated Press (via the San Francisco Chronicle), Robert McGill, now 57, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for killing his wife in their cabin on Carnival Elation. The AP reports that McGill told FBI investigators following the 2009 murder that he "hallucinated after drinking a half bottle of Mezcal and seven or eight beers." McGill had said he believed a scorpion that was in the Mezcal bottle triggered his actions. The explanation did not hold up in court.

(July 18, 2009) -- The man arrested for killing his wife on a Carnival cruise ship told FBI investigators he murdered her "in the bathroom of their cabin with his bare hands," according to an AP report citing court documents released on Friday.

Robert McGill, 55, a teacher from the San Fernando Valley, made his first court appearance on Friday after being charged with killing his wife, Shirley McGill, 55, on Tuesday, July 14, on Carnival Cruise Lines' 70,367-ton, 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation. The ship was sailing from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to San Diego, where their five-night cruise was scheduled to end. The AP is reporting that Tueday was Robert McGill's birthday.

U.S. District Magistrate William McCurine Jr. entered a plea of not guilty on McGill's behalf. According to the AP, the not guilty plea is "common practice in federal court at initial appearances." A detention hearing has been set for July 23, with a preliminary hearing on July 30.

On Tuesday evening, cruise ship personnel responded to a call from a passenger who "expressed concerns that a woman might be dead," according to an AP report citing a statement from FBI agent Keith Slotter. Upon arrival to the McGill's cabin, ship security found Shirley McGill dead, according to the FBI. Robert McGill was missing at the time, but was later found and put in Carnival Elation's small brig. On Wednesday, FBI agents boarded the ship while it was still at sea to investigate, after which McGill confessed to the murder. Numerous outlets have reported that he was formally arrested onboard Carnival Elation on Thursday after it docked in San Diego.

The ship left for its next cruise on Thursday as originally scheduled.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor