06/13/2024

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Marylue Wigglesworth appears in two images

Marylue Wigglesworth accepts plea deal over Christmas Day killing of politician husband she says was self-defense, prosecutors now admit she was ‘victim of an assault’

Marylue Wigglesworth appears in two images (Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office)

A New Jersey woman who admittedly shot and killed her abusive husband on Christmas Day in 2022 has accepted a plea deal and agreed to serve several years in prison, prosecutors announced.

Marylue Wigglesworth, 53, admittedly shot and killed her husband, David B. Wigglesworth, 53, a local Republican Party activist and onetime candidate for local office, but for years has maintained she “feared for her life” on Dec. 25, 2022, and acted in self-defense.

On Tuesday, the defendant accepted a plea deal on one count of manslaughter in the second degree. In exchange for the concession, the state will not argue for a sentence in excess of six years behind bars, and the defense will not argue for a lesser sentence.

Originally accused of cold-blooded murder, the woman’s attorneys long insisted she was “overcharged” by overzealous prosecutors.

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    In January 2023, Atlantic County Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy told the superior court that David Wigglesworth was “naked and in bed with the TV on” when he was shot and killed by his wife — portraying the shooting as a considered act of cruelty.

    Defense attorney Melissa Rosenblum, in response, said her client suffered abuse, including bruising and injuries to her arm and torso, from her husband that night — and alleged that police had, for some time, withheld key evidence from the defense.

    “What the state did not do and did not present, your honor, is that when she did talk to the police, she admitted that she shot him,” the attorney said. “She stated at least six times to the officers that there was a fight and an altercation. They never took pictures of her that night to see what her injuries or bruising were, or at least I have not received them, your honor.”

    Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Wild, in turn, twice denied the defendant bail, based on the “severity” of the charges and the “presumption of detention” that navigates how violent crimes are handled in the Garden State — despite the first bail denial being thoroughly rubbished by an appeals court in February 2023.

    In New Jersey, there is no monetary bail system. For lesser criminal charges, there is a presumption in favor of pretrial release. For more serious charges, like murder, the presumption is for detention.

    On Valentine’s Day in 2023, Marylue Wigglesworth was denied bail a second time — with the court endorsing law enforcement’s understanding of when and how the shooting occurred — with the deceased “lying in bed naked.” At that description of the night’s events, the defendant vigorously shook her head in disagreement before dropping it in apparent disappointment, her hair falling in front of her face as she sat silently upon hearing the news that she would remain in jail pending trial.

    Those disputes are now all but finished.

    The woman has since agreed to serve at least 85% of her given sentence before becoming eligible for parole — which would be just over five years if the judge agrees to the six-year sentence.

    The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office has since aligned its understanding of the killing night significantly with the woman’s narrative.

    “During the guilty plea, the defendant stated that before the shooting, she and her husband engaged in an argument,” prosecutors said in a press release. “The victim, David, physically assaulted the defendant and threatened her with a firearm that he kept in their bedroom. Immediately following the threat, the defendant shot the victim with the firearm used in the assault. Officers investigating the homicide documented significant bruising throughout the defendant’s body following the homicide, consistent with being the victim of an assault.”

    According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, the defendant called the police at 10:19 p.m. on the night in question and requested help because she and her husband were fighting.

    According to a press release from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Township of Hamilton Police Department responded to a 911 call about an injured male just before 10:20 p.m.

    Police arrived and found both of the Wigglesworths in their bedroom. A handgun was also present in the same room, the affidavit alleges, and the defendant admitted to shooting her husband.

    The defendant is slated to be sentenced on Aug. 20.

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    The post Marylue Wigglesworth accepts plea deal over Christmas Day killing of politician husband she says was self-defense, prosecutors now admit she was ‘victim of an assault’ first appeared on Law & Crime.