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Grantham man pleads guilty to murdering wife

Union Leader Correspondent

December 03. 2013 1:20PM


NEWPORT — A Grantham father of four pleaded guilty in Sullivan County Superior Court Tuesday morning to murdering his wife by shooting her to death last year.

James W. Perriello, 42, who had been indicted by a Sullivan County Superior Court Grand Jury on first- and second-degree murder charges, pleaded to the charge of knowing second-degree murder, said Jeffery A. Strelzin, senior assistant attorney general.

Perriello is set to return to court Dec. 18 for a sentencing hearing, court officials said.

The maximum jail term for the charge is life in prison, according to Strelzin, and there is no minimum jail term for the charge.

In the plea agreement, though, the parties have agreed to a floor or cap plea, Strelzin said, saying the least the defense can ask for is 18 to 36 years, and the maximum the state prosecutors can ask for is a prison term of 35 years to life.

On April 26, 2012, police responded to a 911 call at 80 Doc's Drive, the home of Perriello and his wife, Natalie Perriello, then 42, and their four children.

Perriello told the operator he had lost his cool and had just shot his wife. He was waiting outside for police when the first officer arrived at the couple's home.

According to police testimony at a May 2012 probable cause hearing, an officer went inside and found a woman on the floor in a pool of blood at the entrance to a bedroom. A round was jammed in a pistol placed on a nearby space heater.

She was shot seven times, with six wounds to her head and one to a finger.

The couple's 3-year-old son was in the bedroom, and the officer heard screaming and yelling coming from children in other rooms of the house.

In an interview with police after the shooting, Perriello admitted to police he "lost his cool" and killed his wife because, he alleged, she was having an affair with a 20-year-old former student.

The mother of four children, ages 3 to 12 at the time, taught computer technology and personal finance at Lebanon High School.

Prior to that, she taught for 14 years at Canaan Elementary School.

The couple was estranged prior to the shooting, and James Perriello had moved out of the home several weeks earlier. On the day of the murder, the couple had gone to a marriage counselor and he returned to the home, staying in a separate bedroom apart from his wife.

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