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State v. McGuire

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 27, 2010, Argued; March 16, 2011, Decided

DOCKET NO. A-6576-06T4

Opinion

 [*103]  [**419]   The opinion of the court was delivered by

ASHRAFI, J.A.D.

A jury convicted defendant Melanie McGuire of murdering her husband, desecrating his body, and two other charges. The court sentenced her to life in prison plus five years. She must serve at least sixty-six years in prison before she can be considered for parole. She appeals, arguing that her trial and sentencing were unfair. We affirm the verdict and sentence.

Defendant and William "Bill" McGuire were married in 1999. They lived with their two boys in an apartment in Woodbridge.  [***2] Bill worked as a computer program analyst for a college in Newark. Defendant worked as a nurse for a medical practice in Morristown. On April 28, 2004, they closed on the purchase of the first home they would own. They then returned to their Woodbridge apartment, and Bill called the gas company at 5:37 p.m. to  [*104]  transfer their account to the new house. At 5:44 p.m. and 5:59 p.m., he called two good friends to tell them happily he had completed the purchase of his new house.

Later that evening, Bill did not return a call from the seller of the house, as he had done promptly on prior occasions. There is no evidence that Bill ever spoke to anyone again after 6:10 p.m. on April 28, 2004, other than perhaps defendant. Bill's silence was unusual because he was normally very active on his telephones and Blackberry, both socially and for work.

On three dates from May 5 to May 16, 2004, Bill's body was found in the waters near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia. The body had been cut into three sections, drained of blood, wrapped in garbage bags, and packed into three matching suitcases. The medical examiner in Virginia found two bullets in the torso,  [**420]  and separate entrance and exit bullet  [***3] wounds to the head and the chest. Also found in one of the suitcases was a blanket with markings from a hospital supply company.

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419 N.J. Super. 88 *; 16 A.3d 411 **; 2011 N.J. Super. LEXIS 48 ***

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, v. MELANIE MCGUIRE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Subsequent History:  [***1] Approved for Publication March 16, 2011.

Certification denied by, Appeal dismissed by State v. McGuire, 208 N.J. 335, 27 A.3d 948, 2011 N.J. LEXIS 1010 (Sept. 20, 2011)

Post-conviction relief denied at State v. McGuire, 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2030 (App.Div., Aug. 7, 2017)

Prior History: On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment Nos. 05-10-164-S and 06-10-116-S.

CORE TERMS

jurors, gun, trial court, murder, bags, apartment, garbage bag, records, suitcases, manufacturing, buy, expert testimony, scientific, disappearance, sentence, match, questions, forensic, internet, deliberations, summation, marks, prescription, reliable, remarks, tissue, cross-examination, identification, conversation, anonymous

Criminal Law & Procedure, Standards of Review, Plain Error, Definition of Plain Error, Harmless & Invited Error, Definition of Harmless & Invited Error, Abuse of Discretion, Evidence, Evidence, Admissibility, Expert Witnesses, De Novo Review, General Overview, Procedural Matters, Rulings on Evidence, Expert Witnesses, Kelly Frye Standard, Governments, Courts, Rule Application & Interpretation, Testimony, Qualifications, Objections & Offers of Proof, Objections, Criminal Proceedings, Scientific Evidence, Standards for Admissibility, Relevance, Exclusion of Relevant Evidence, Confusion, Prejudice & Waste of Time, Unavailability, Inability to Testify, Death, Exceptions, State of Mind, Proof of Later Acts, Hearsay, Statements Against Interest, Possession of Weapons, Unregistered Firearm, Elements, Appeals, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Prohibition Against Improper Statements, Reversible Error, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Burdens of Proof, Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Trials, Closing Arguments, Fair Comment & Fair Response, Evidence Not Admitted, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Jury Trial, Defendant's Rights, Right to Fair Trial, Motions for Mistrial, Juries & Jurors, Jury Deliberations, Outside Influences, Right to Due Process, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Proportionality & Reasonableness Review, Sentencing Guidelines, Departures From Guidelines, Upward Departures, Extreme Conduct