By Terence McGinley
MORRISTOWN N.J. (Reuters) - A New Jersey man who stabbed his ex-wife 84 times before placing a rubber pig mask over her face was sentenced on Friday to 50 years in prison for her murder.
Anthony Novellino, 67, appeared in Morris County Superior Court in handcuffs and an orange jail jumpsuit. He made brief, rambling and often mumbled remarks about their divorce before the sentence was handed down.
"It's a tragedy what happened and I'm sorry for my part in it," he told the court.
But Judge Robert Gilson said during the sentencing that Novellino had shown no remorse for a "heinous, cold and depraved action." He told Novellino that he would not be eligible for parole for at least 42 years, meaning he is unlikely to leave prison alive.
Novellino used an 8-inch kitchen knife to kill Judith Novellino in June 2010 while she was using the toilet at their former marital home in Denville, a township in northern New Jersey, according to prosecutors. The divorce had been finalized less than two weeks earlier, and she had gone to the house to pack up some belongings, prosecutors said.
After killing her in the bathroom, Novellino fetched a rubber pig mask from a closet and put it over her face before fleeing, according to the account by the Morris County's prosecutor's office.
During the trial, jurors saw emails Novellino had sent to his friends and relatives complaining that Judith Novellino was a poor housekeeper. Prosecutors said Novellino had fetched the pig mask as a final insult to his ex-wife's perceived shortcomings.
Five days after the murder, police found Novellino more than 2,300 miles away from the home in a small city in Washington state.
The jury found Novellino guilty in July of murder, tampering with evidence and of breaking various weapon laws.
At Friday's sentencing, Judith Novellino's relatives looked visibly shaken as prosecutors recounted the grim details of the murder as part of their argument that her killer should be sentenced to life in prison.
Margaret Calderwood, an assistant county prosecutor, read aloud a statement from the victim's family in which they said they believed he would kill again.
"Vengeance is the Lord's but this man is evil," their statement said. "Please sentence him to life so we can have some solace."
(Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Bill Trott)