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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Anthony Novellino: The Pig Mask Murder Case

     In 2010, after years of marriage, Anthony Novellino and his wife Judith, a teacher at Morris Catholic High School in Denville Township, New Jersey, couldn't stand each other. She accused him of being verbally abusive and controlling. He claimed that because she was such a lousy housekeeper, the place was always a mess. To back up his accusation, he emailed photographs of the unkempt home to family and friends.

     The couple also fought over their oldest son, Anthony A. Novellino Jr., a resident of nearby Parsippany. Over the past few years, police officers had arrested Novellino Jr. for possession of drugs. He had also been charges with auto theft. Judith Novellino treated her drug-addicted son with compassion and accommodated his needs such as giving him money. The father, fed up with his son, believed that tough-love, such as jail, was the best way to deal with the problem.

     Judith Novellino filed for divorce, and on June 8, 2010, it became final. According to the divorce settlement, she would receive $110,000, her share of the house, plus $150,000, her half of their IRAs and bank savings. Mr. Novellino made no secret of the fact he felt cheated in the distribution of the family assets.

     On June 19, 2010, eleven days after the finalization of the breakup, Anthony Novellino came home and found Judith in the house retrieving her personal belongings. They argued and he became enraged. The confrontation came to a bloody end when he stabbed her 84 times with an 8-inch kitchen knife. Before he packed some of his belongings and walked to his car, Mr. Novellino slipped a pig mask over his former wife's head.

     Christina German discovered her mother's body in the bathroom when she came to the house to help the 62-year-old move her belongings to an apartment in Parsippany.

     Five days after the brutal murder, police in Puyallup, Washington took Anthony Novellino into custody. The 66-year-old fugitive had driven across the country to be with a woman he had met on the Internet. Assistant Morris County prosecutor Maggie Calderwood charged Novellino with murder and several lesser offenses.

     When interrogated by detectives in New Jersey, the suspect claimed that he had "hit" his former wife twice with the knife in self defense. The judge denied Novellino bond. Officers booked the suspect into the Morris County Jail where he would await his day in court.

     The Novellino trial got underway in a Morristown Superior Court on July 7, 2014. In his opening remarks to the jury, the defendant's attorney, Michael Priarone, said his client, in a fit of temporary insanity, had attacked his wife. This act of violence, according to the defense attorney, was entirely out of his client's character. As a result, Priarone wanted the jury to find Mr. Novellino guilty of what he called "passion provocation manslaughter," an offense that carried a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

     Anthony Novellino's attorney moved to have the death scene pig mask excluded from evidence on the grounds it was "highly prejudicial" to his client. The judge denied that request.

     On July 22, 2014, after just three hours of deliberation, the jury found Anthony Novellino guilty of murder, hindering apprehension, tampering with evidence, and two counts of illegal weapons possession.

     At the September 12, 2014 sentence hearing, the judge sentenced 70-year-old Anthony Novellino to 50 years in prison. The overkill and the pig mask had sealed his fate.

     

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