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Appeals court gives woman accused of killing naked husband on Christmas Day a second chance at bail

Marylue Wigglesworth appears in a mugshot

Marylue Wigglesworth, seen in a mugshot, is accused of murdering her husband, David Wigglesworth, on Christas night in 2022. The defendant claims she acted in self-defense. (Image via Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office)

A New Jersey woman accused of gunning down her husband on Christmas night was improperly denied the ability to argue that the shooting was in self-defense, an appellate court recently ruled.

Marylue Wigglesworth, 51, stands accused of murder for the Dec. 25, 2022, shooting death of 57-year-old David B. Wigglesworth, a Republican Party activist and onetime candidate for local office in the Town of Hempstead in the Garden State’s Atlantic County.

In early January, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Wild denied bail due to the “severity” of the charges. The defendant, by way of her attorneys, did not dispute that she shot and killed her husband. Rather, the defense said she “feared for her life” on the night in question and acted in self-defense. Attorneys Melissa Rosenblum and Jonathan Diego insisted their client was “overcharged.”

During the bail hearing, however, Wild effectively ignored such claims, ruling that Marylue Wigglesworth’s affirmative defense was “a trial issue” but “not a pretrial detention hearing issue.”

The decision by Wild was appealed, leading New Jersey State Appellate Division Judges Heidi W. Currier and Avis Bishop-Thompson to determine Wild’s ruling was rife with error, The Press of Atlantic City reported on Tuesday.

“That information is relevant to a consideration whether defendant poses a danger to the community or a risk of flight or obstruction to justice,” the appeals court ruled. “It was a mistaken abuse of discretion not to consider defendant’s evidence of self-defense.”

Additionally, the appeals court judges said, Wild failed to document why she agreed with the state that the defendant is considered a flight risk and would potentially obstruct justice.

The appellate court directed Wild to deal with the issue on remand by Thursday of this week, Press journalist Eric Conklin reported.

Currier and Bishop-Thompson directed the lower court to consider “the proffered evidence and to determine whether no amount of monetary bail, non-monetary condition or combination of monetary bail and conditions would reasonably assure defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, and that defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process.”

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.

While the lower court dismissed the defendant’s evidence of self-defense when considering detention, both sides were able to make their case.

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.

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 detectives had yet to share key information with the defense at the time.

“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.”

In a statement provided to Law&Crime on Wednesday, Diego and Rosenblum said “there is no dispute” Marylue Wigglesworth was the victim of domestic violence on Christmas night last year.

“Due to her husband’s assault that night Mr. Wigglesworth experienced significant bruising and other injuries,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately, Christmas night was not the first time Ms. Wigglesworth was a victim of her husband’s significant violence.”

Calling the incident “heartbreaking and sad,” and “heartrending,” the defense attorneys insisted their client is “innocent of the charge against her.”

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