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James Perriello is shown in district court April 27 in Newport. Perriello was in court again Tuesday for a probable cause hearing, charged with shooting and killing his wife, Natalie Perriello at their home in Grantham. (JIM COLE/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

State Police: Husband killed wife over alleged affair with former student

NEWPORT - Investigators believe a Grantham man shot his estranged wife six times in the back of the head at close range and fired another shot over the bed where his 3-year-old son was trying to sleep with her.

James W. Perriello, 41, admitted to police he &#';lost his cool&#'; and killed his wife on April 26 because, he alleged, she was having an affair with a 20-year-old former student, according to testimony Tuesday at a probable cause hearing in 5th Circuit Court, Newport District Division.

Natalie Perriello, the mother of four children ages 3 to 12, taught computer technology and personal finance at Lebanon High School. Prior to that, she taught for 14 years at Canaan Elementary School.

Lead investigator state police Sgt. Jeff Ladieux testified at the court hearing that Perriello called 911, telling 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 Doc's Drive home.

The officer went inside to find 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, Ladieux testified.

The couple were estranged, and Mr. Perriello had moved out of the home several weeks earlier, but the day of the murder they had gone to a marriage counselor and he had returned to the home, staying in a bedroom apart from his wife.

The judge found probable cause to charge Perriello with two alternative counts of second-degree murder. He is being held without bail, and the case has been forwarded to Sullivan County Superior Court.

Both sides of the case agreed to an order preventing Perriello from having any contact — direct or indirect — with his children. Senior assistant attorney general Jeffery Strelzin said both sets of grandparents are working together to care for the children, whom he noted have been through &#';an incredibly difficult situation.&#';

Strelzin said the investigation is continuing and charges could be upgraded.

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