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Grantham man makes plea deal in wife's killing

NEWPORT— A Grantham father of four pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of his wife.

James W. Perriello told police he "lost his cool" because, he alleged, his wife was having an affair with a 20-year-old former student at Lebanon High School.

Perriello, 42, was indicted by a Sullivan County Superior Court grand jury on first- and second-degree murder charges, according to Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery A. Strelzin. Under the terms of the plea deal, the defense will ask for an 18- to 36-year sentence; state prosecutors will ask for 35 years to life.

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

Police responded to a 911 call on April 26, 2012, at the Perriello home at 80 Doc's Drive. James Perriello 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. The officer heard screaming and yelling coming from children in other rooms of the house.

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. Perriello had returned to the home, staying in a separate bedroom from his wife.

Perriello is set to return to court Dec. 18 for his sentencing hearing.

mpierce@newstote.com


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