NEWPORT — After a long and emotional sentencing hearing in Sullivan County Superior Court on Wednesday morning, James W. Perriello received the maximum sentence in the shooting death of his wife, teacher Natalie Perriello.
Perriello, 42, was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison.
"It was a contested sentencing hearing. The defense asked for 20 to 50 years, and we asked for 35 years to life," said Jeffery A. Strelzin, senior assistant attorney general.
The prosecution went first, presenting five family members and a friend who gave victim impact statements. When the defense took the floor, Perriello and his mother both gave statements.
"It was a very long hearing with a lot of people. It was very emotional. The defendant's eldest daughter spoke, and it was a very moving statement on her part," Strelzin said.
All of the four Perriello children were in the home the night Perriello admittedly shot and killed his wife.
Natalie Perriello's family supported both the plea and the prosecution's recommended sentencing, Strelzin said.
"They were very much in support of the plea. The primary concern they had was the children. They did not want the children to be exposed to the trial. And family and friends of the children wanted to make sure he was locked up long enough so the children could grow up without any interference from him and that's why they supported our recommended sentencing," Strelzin said.
On April 26, 2012 police responded to a 911 called from 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.
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, six wounds to the 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 following 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, Perriello had moved out of the home several weeks earlier, but the day of the murder the couple had gone to a marriage counselor and he had returned to the home, staying in a separate bedroom apart from his wife.