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Woman sentenced to prison in decapitation case

October 7, 2021 GMT

NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire woman who contends she was forced to behead a coworker’s corpse after her husband killed him has been sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison.

The woman, 32, cried Wednesday as she apologized to the family of Jonathan Amerault, WMUR-TV reported.

“As a mother, I know in my heart that justice will never be served,” she said. “No amount of prison time or sentence will take the pain away or undo the past.”

The woman has been in jail since she was charged with allegedly decapitating Jonathan Amerault, 25, of Keene, in September 2020. She also is accused of wrapping his body in a tarp and dragging it to a remote area and cleaning Amerault’s car after he was killed.

The woman, who had no prior criminal record, pleaded guilty in August to three counts of falsifying evidence in a plea agreement with prosecutors. Part of her sentence was suspended Wednesday on condition of good behavior, mental health treatment and restitution to Amerault’s family. She could get out on parole as soon as March 2022.

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“She never planned to commit these crimes,” her lawyer wrote in a court document submitted last week. “She never planned for anyone to be murdered. Her weakness and her mistake was texting with a man from work, Jonathan Amerault, as her marriage was falling apart,” provoking her husband’s actions.

Amerault’s family felt the sentence was too lenient. They accused the woman of being the “catalyst” for the murder of their son and called her acts barbaric.

“I hear the sound of my son screaming in the darkness,” Amerault’s mother, Justine Amerault, said in court.

The woman’s husband is accused of luring Amerault to a park where the man was beaten, kidnapped and then shot three times last September. The husband is also accused of hiding the body at a campsite in northern New Hampshire.

The husband faces charges including capital murder, first-degree murder, kidnapping and second-degree assault. His trial is scheduled for May 2022.

The Associated Press is not naming the couple because doing so could identify the woman, who said she suffered extreme abuse and was under duress at the time of the killing. After her husband discovered the relationship, she told authorities that he repeatedly assaulted her, put a gun in her mouth and choked her until she passed out.