NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A jury convicted a nurse yesterday of killing her husband, hacking up his body and stuffing the parts into three suitcases she tossed into Chesapeake Bay.
Melanie McGuire, who sobbed as she heard the verdict, was convicted of murder, desecration of a corpse, perjury and a weapons offense.
She was acquitted on two counts of hindering prosecution and falsifying evidence. Authorities charged that she wrote anonymous letters in an attempt to thwart investigators.
During the six-week trial, prosecutors said McGuire, 34, organized William McGuire's 2004 murder using her expertise as a nurse so she could begin a new life with her lover, her boss at a fertility clinic.
The Middlesex County jury was told that two days before her husband was last seen alive, McGuire bought a gun and bullets that matched those found in her husband's body.
The body parts of William McGuire, 39, a computer programmer, were found in matching Kenneth Cole luggage that washed ashore in May 2004 near Norfolk, Va., nearly 300 miles from the couple's Woodbridge, N.J., apartment.
The verdict from the jury of nine women and three men came after about 13 hours of deliberations over four days.
McGuire's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, had argued that the petite nurse was physically incapable of killing her 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound husband.
Assistant Attorney General Patricia Prezioso told jurors that McGuire forged a prescription for a powerful sedative - chloral hydrate - using the name of a patient from her clinic April 28, 2004, the day her husband disappeared.
Tacopina said they would appeal, and that issues to be raised could include whether the jury was contaminated by information not presented in court.
"We know that the jury had some outside connection via the blogs," Tacopina said.
Superior Court Judge Frederick DeVesa spent several hours on Friday questioning each juror in private on whether any got improper information. Yesterday he said deliberations should continue. "All the jurors, clearly and unequivocally reported to the court that they did not discuss and have not been made aware of any information relating to the facts or merit of the case," DeVesa said.
The verdict came several hours later. DeVesa revoked McGuire's $1.2 million bail and set sentencing for July 13. McGuire faces 30 years to life on the murder charge. Prezioso said that while "justice was served," she was sad that the McGuires' two children are now without both parents.
During his closing argument, Tacopina said it would be impossible to have such a bloody crime in the couple's apartment without neighbors hearing something or without leaving behind physical evidence. Prezioso acknowledged that there were some unanswered questions, but said there was still "overwhelming" evidence to convict. *