NEWPORT, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man told a judge on Tuesday that he gunned down his wife in front of their 3-year-old son in a spasm of anger after learning she was having an affair with a former student.
James Perriello pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and admitted he shot Natalie Perriello, a popular teacher at Lebanon High School and a finalist for the state’s teacher of the year competition, several times on April 26, 2012. Perriello said he had secretly taped her and discovered the affair.
In court on Tuesday, he said he was “very angry” the night he killed his wife. He told Judge Brian Tucker he was “very sorry” for what he had done.
As he spoke in court, Natalie Perriello’s brother, Bob LaFlam Jr., stared at him.
“I just couldn’t believe … what he did to those kids,” LaFlam said after Perriello pleaded guilty.
James Perriello’s parents declined to comment. The couple’s four children, ages 3 to 12 at the time of the shooting, are being raised by Natalie Perriello’s mother.
Prosecutors will ask for 35 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 18, while Perriello’s lawyer, Kimberly Cossick, will seek 18 to 36 years in prison.
Police testified that Perriello, now 42, confronted his wife with excerpts from a tape recorder he had placed beneath the seat of her car. Police learned through the recording that Natalie Perriello, 42, and her 20-year-old former student “were affectionate toward one another and had initiated a relationship.” Perriello also told police he had been monitoring his wife’s email, social media sites and text messages.
According to court records, the Perriellos had seen a marital counselor on the day of the shooting. According to police, on the night of the shooting, Perriello continued confronting his wife about what he had heard on the recording.
Perriello initially told police he went back into the bedroom with a gun and it accidentally went off when his wife tried to grab it, but police said most of the bullets entered Natalie Perriello’s head at a close range. One bullet was lodged in the window frame above where the 3-year-old lay.
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