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, planned 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, 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, on April 28, 2004, the day her husband disappeared.
Tacopina said that 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 they had gotten 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 saddened that the McGuire's two children are now without parents.
Prosecutors acknowledged their case was circumstantial, and Prezioso said, "I think that the strength of the case is seeing all of these divergent facts come together and fit together."
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 told jurors that McGuire most likely had an accomplice, but no one has been named or charged. The prosecutor acknowledged that there were some unanswered questions, but said there was still "overwhelming" evidence to convict the mother of two.
Prosecutors also highlighted Internet searches made from the couple's apartment on topics such as "undetectable poisons" and "ways to kill people."
Tacopina said the defense did not to call McGuire to the stand because they felt the jury had heard the key elements of what she had to say when audio recordings made by two men close to her, who were cooperating with authorities, were played in court.
The recordings were made by Bradley Miller, with whom she was having the affair, and her good friend, James Finn. During the recordings, McGuire repeatedly says she had nothing to do with her husband's death.