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The Boston Globe


N.H. man sentenced for fatally shooting wife

James Perriello (right) pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Jim Cole/AP File

James Perriello (right) pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

NEWPORT, N.H. (AP) — A man who admitted shooting his wife in a jealous rage after learning she was having an affair was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum of 35 years to life in prison.

James Perriello, 42, pleaded guilty earlier this month to second-degree murder. He admitted shooting 42-year-old Natalie Perriello six times in the head on April 26, 2012, at their Grantham home. Another bullet lodged in a window frame above where the youngest of their four children slept.

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Perriello said he had secretly taped his wife, a popular teacher at Lebanon High School, and discovered she was having an affair with a former student.

Perriello apologized in court Wednesday. He showed no visible reaction when the sentence was delivered while members of Natalie Perriello’s smiled at the maximum punishment.

His lawyer had argued for 18 to 36 years.

When he pleaded guilty in Sullivan County Superior Court on Dec. 3, Perriello said he was ‘‘very angry’’ the night he killed his wife.

The Perriellos had marital problems for years that got worse after the birth of their fourth child, according to court records. They had separated several months before the shooting but eventually got back together, sleeping in separate bedrooms.

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They went to a counselor on the day of the shooting and later that night, Perriello continued to confront his wife about what he had heard on the recording.

Police learned through the recording that Natalie Perriello 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.

Perriello initially told police he went into the bedroom with a gun to scare his wife and that it accidentally went off when she tried to grab it. The first shot hit Natalie’s ring finger as she tried to grab for the gun. After Perriello shot her once in the head at close range, he fired five more shots into her head before letting her body drop to the floor.

The couple’s four children, ages 3 to 12 at the time of the shooting, are being raised by Natalie Perriello’s mother.

Just days before the shooting, James Perriello told several co-workers at a construction site that he believed his wife was having an affair and said at least three times that he ‘‘ought to just kill’’ her.

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