New Jersey man Jeremiah Monell stands trial in Cumberland County Superior Court for the brutal murder of his estranged wife Tara O’Shea-Watson. Prosecutors said he beat and choked her, then stabbed her at least 48 times on Dec. 18, 2016. He could spend life in prison without parole if convicted.
Assistant Prosecutor Charles Wettstein claimed at a pre-trial hearing in October that the couple’s 12-year-old son woke up in the middle of the night to find Monell slammed O’Shea-Watson to the floor.
“The juvenile heard the victim say, ‘Just let me die in peace,’” Wettstein said, according to The Press of Atlantic City. “At that time, the defendant retrieved two knives from the kitchen, from the block of kitchen knives. He then proceeded to go back to Miss O’Shea-Watson and repeatedly stab her.”
The son ran to a neighbor’s home for help, authorities said. A 911 call shows a man telling dispatch that the boy had claimed O’Shea-Watson had died. In the audio, the caller and his wife checked the scene, and he reached an awful realization.
“Oh my God, she was murdered,” the man said.
O’Shea-Watson left behind two children with Monell, and three others from different relationships. She had a restraining order on her alleged killer at the time of her death. Friends Penny Morey and Jen L. Messeck said he physically abused her.
“It was living hell,” Messeck said, according to NJ.com. “He beat her. She was constantly on the run from him. She wanted nothing more than to get out of here.”
Her plan, they said, was to sell some belongings to fund a move to Tennessee, but the judge who gave her the restraining order prohibited her from taking her kids out of New Jersey.
Investigators said Monell led them on a two-week manhunt before his arrest in a wooded area in Folsom, New Jersey.
The pre-trial process hasn’t been the smoothest for Monell. In October, the defendant said his public defender Nathan Perry defamed him, and didn’t care about him, according to the Press.
“If I can’t have proper council [sic], how do I defend myself against what you’re stating right now?” he asked. “Unless I represent myself, but I’m not educated enough to do so.”
The judge insisted he bring the concerns to the public defender’s office. Monell had asked the court in January 2017 to represent himself.
[Image via New Jersey State Police]