MORRISTOWN N.J. (Reuters) - A prosecutor on Tuesday held up the rubber pig mask found on the face of a woman stabbed 84 times and told the jury in the murder trial of the victim's ex-husband it showed his contempt for the woman he called a messy housekeeper.
Stabbing the air repeatedly with the 8-inch kitchen knife used to kill Judith Novellino, 62, the prosecutor said Anthony Novellino, 66, should be found guilty of murder in the June 19, 2010 slaying in their onetime home.
"Don't confuse passion with anger," Assistant Morris County Prosecutor Margaret Calderwood said in her closing argument in Morris County Superior Court.
"You don't methodically go to the closet and pull out a pig mask and put it on her" without being fully aware of your actions, she said.
Anthony Novellino had been living at the home in Denville in northern New Jersey. On the day she was killed, his ex-wife reportedly went there to retrieve some of her belongings.
Attorneys for both sides said Anthony Novellino emailed photos of the unkempt condition of the home to friends and relatives. The attorneys said he complained that Judith Novellino kept a sloppy home, which was a sticking point in their divorce proceedings.
Prosecutors said the emails were further evidence of his contempt for his wife, whose body was later found wearing the pig mask and with 84 stab wounds.
Defense attorney Michael Priarone said the emails were simply evidence of his client's sometimes immature behavior.
In his closing argument, Priarone called the stabbing a terrible act but asked the jury to find that his client suffered a kind of temporary insanity, which could reduce a murder charge to manslaughter.
Throughout the closing arguments, Novellino, who wore a navy blue blazer, sat motionless, looking straight ahead toward Judge Robert Gilson and never glancing at the jury.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jonathan Oatis)