BRIDGETON — Jeremiah Monell, the Cedarville man who allegedly stabbed his wife to death before evading police for two weeks, rejected a final plea deal from the state Friday morning, making the decision to go to trial.
Monell, 33, is charged in the December 2016 murder of Tara O’Shea-Watson, 35. Monell led police on a manhunt that ended two weeks later when he was arrested in Folsom.
Monell rejected an open plea offer from the state, which would allow a judge determine a sentence of 30 years to life. If convicted, Monell could face life in prison without parole.
Jury selection is slated to begin Dec. 18.
Standing shackled in the Cumberland County Court House, Monell didn’t react when a prosecutor described the night that he allegedly beat and stabbed his wife to death.
Assistant Prosecutor Charles Wettstein said that the estranged couple’s 12-year-old son told police that he had woken up during the night “by the sound of a bang on the floor.” The child saw Monell slam O’Shea-Watson onto the floor and choke her.
“The juvenile heard the victim say, ‘Just let me die in peace,’” Wettstein said. “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 autopsy showed that O’Shea-Watson was stabbed “dozens of times,” to the chest, abdomen and the back, Wettstein said.
“By my count, no fewer than 48 times,” he said, adding that Monell’s bloody palm print was also found on one of the knives covered in O’Shea-Watson’s blood.
Monell was evasive and combative during the pre-trial conference before Superior Court Judge Cristen D’Arrigo. He said that his attorney, Nathan Perry, doesn’t have his best interest in mind and that he has slandered him. D’Arrigo said that he is represented by the Public Defender’s Office, and that Perry is the attorney assigned to him, so he should take his complaints to their office.
“If I can’t have proper council, 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.”
D’Arrigo said his attorney is right next to him.
Monell quarreled with D’Arrigo through the end of the appearance, when he wouldn’t explicitly say that he had rejected the state’s offer and wanted to go to trial. He said that he made his decision the last time he was in court before proclaiming that he was “done for the day.”
“Alright, it’s going to trial,” D’Arrigo replied.
Monell was remanded to Cumberland County jail.