Possible motive in murder of Upper Valley teacher - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Possible motive in murder of Upper Valley teacher

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NEWPORT, N.H. -

Disturbing new details about the murder of a New Hampshire high school teacher.

According to police, it was James Perriello who called 911 after shooting his wife, Natalie, six times in the head in their Grantham home.

"He stated that he just shot his wife and that he shot her multiple times and he believed she was dead and that he had lost his cool," N.H. State Police Sgt. Jeffrey Ladieu said.

Police say the couple's marriage was on the rocks. They were separated, receiving counseling, and not sleeping in the same bedroom. On the night Natalie was killed, police say James Perriello confronted her because he believed she was having an affair.

"Why did he say he chose to get a handgun?" asked Jeffery Strelzin, the assistant N.H. attorney general.

"He explained that he grabbed the handgun in an attempt to scare Natalie," Ladieu answered.

According to testimony at Tuesday's probable cause hearing, Natalie lunged toward her husband in an attempt to get the gun. That's when James Perriello told police the gun "just went off." But prosecutors say a total of eight shots were fired-- seven striking Natalie. And prosecutors pointed out that the .40 caliber handgun has multiple safety features.

"Things that a defendant would have to do in order to carry out a crime all go to that defendant's particular state of mind and that is why the state would put in that kind of evidence," Strelzin said.

The couple has four children. Police say they were all in the house. Their youngest, a 3-year-old, was sleeping in Natalie's bed-- the room where police say the shooting took place.

"The children are with family members, they are being well taken care of," Strelzin said. "Obviously it's been an incredibly difficult situation for them and both sides of the family."

A court order restricts James Perriello from having any contact with his kids. He is being held without bail and the case now heads to the grand jury.

If convicted on the second-degree murder charge Perriello could be sentenced to life behind bars.

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