EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 29, 2012

Lawyer: Man who killed wife suffered emotional disorder

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

HAVERHILL — The lawyer representing Craig Mulgrave, who is accused in the stabbing death of his wife Christina Mulgrave two years ago, told a jury that his client is guilty.

PHOTO SLIDESHOW OF TRIAL

"He is guilty of murder ... of second-degree murder," attorney Edward Hayden of Lynn said. "But he is not guilty of first-degree murder."

Mulgrave's trial on the charge of first-degree murder began yesterday in Essex Superior Court in Salem, with Judge David Lowy presiding. Mulgrave, now 35, is accused of killing his wife, Christina Mulgrave, 45.

If found guilty of murder in the second degree, Mulgrave faces life in prison with the chance of parole after 15 years. If found guilty of murder in the first degree, he faces life in prison with no chance of parole.

Hayden will try to prove that Mulgrave was not in his right mind on the day he attacked his wife. He told the jury that at that time Mulgrave wasn't properly taking the medication he'd been prescribed for depression, and that following his arrest both a psychologist and psychiatrist concluded he was suffering from a major depressive disorder.

He told the jury it was important to know this as a person must be in an elevated mental state that is required for a first-degree murder conviction.

"Right now, you think he's a monster," Hayden said. "When you learn a little bit about him, your opinion might change."

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Woodard will try to prove the opposite — that Mulgrave knew what he was doing, believed that his marriage was in trouble and worried that he didn't have a job.

Her opening remarks to jury were chilling.

"My husband is stabbing me ... help, please help ... stop Craig, stop," Woodard told the jury, referring to a 911 phone call Christine Mulgrave made the day she was killed. "These are the words a dispatcher heard."

Woodard said Christina Mulgrave suffered 12 stab wounds from her husband, including wounds to her lungs, liver, trachea, arms and other areas of her torso.

"This was the brutal ending to her life, and it was all at the hands of her husband, Craig Mulgrave," Woodard said.

Craig Mulgrave was arrested Feb. 9, 2010, after police responded to a frantic 911 call at around 3 p.m. from Christina Mulgrave saying she was being stabbed to death.

Police encountered Craig Mulgrave at the doorway of the couple's second-floor apartment at 107 Chestnut St. Police said he was covered in blood and holding a bloody kitchen knife in his left hand.

"I just killed my wife," Mulgrave told police, according to their report on the incident. Mulgrave then pointed inside the apartment and told police, "She's in there," the report said.

Paramedics rushed Christina Mulgrave to Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill, where she died a short time later.

Craig Mulgrave has been held without bail since his arraignment in Haverhill District Court on Feb. 10, 2010. He was subsequently indicted by an Essex County grand jury on the charge of first-degree murder.

Mulgrave entered the courtroom yesterday wearing a light blue dress shirt, black slacks and black shoes.

Sitting in the front left row were members of Christina Mulgrave's family, including: Her mother, Mary Fidler of Kingston; Fidler's sister, Anne Farrel of Oswego, N.Y.; Christina Mulgrave's sister, Michelle Gonzalez of Lowell; Christina Mulgrave's daughter from her first marriage, Nicole McCain, 24, of Kingston; and Christina Mulgrave's stepsister, Donna Fedele of Danville. Christina Mulgrave's son, Evan McCain, 22, was expected to attend the trial as well.

Before the start of the trial, Mary Fidler told The Eagle-Tribune that her family did not wish to make any comments.

Throughout the morning, a jury of eight women and six men, which included two alternates, heard testimony from five witnesses, including Haverhill police Sgt. Dana Burrill, who said he encountered Craig Mulgrave standing in his apartment doorway holding a bloody kitchen knife in his left hand and saying he had killed his wife.

The prosecution asked Burrill to identify the knife, which was inside a box that was more than a foot long. The knife was not shown to the jury.

Woodard asked Burrill to describe Craig Mulgrave's demeanor at the time he encountered him at the doorway to his apartment. Burrill said Mulgrave spoke in a very calm voice. Woodard asked if Mulgrave spoke in a conversational tone and if he dropped the knife when Burrill asked him to. Burrill said yes to both questions.

Haverhill firefighter Christopher Link testified that when he and other firefighters found Christina Mulgrave, she was lying on the floor of a small room in a pool of blood. He said she had a weak pulse and was having trouble breathing.

"There was so much blood, we had a hard time keeping our footing," Link said.

He said Christina Mulgrave had to be moved to the living room, where paramedics with Trinity EMS ambulance service began emergency treatment. Link said they first inserted an air tube down her throat but because air was escaping from one of the stab wounds.

"They got a second tube into the stab wound and into the lungs directly," he said.

Link said Christina Mulgrave's condition was weak when they carried her down the stairs in a stretcher and that CPR was being performed as she was placed into an ambulance.

Haverhill Patrolman Carlos Arriga testified that when he arrived at the apartment building, other officers brought Craig Mulgrave to him for transport to the police station for booking.

Woodard asked what physical condition Mulgrave was in.

"Drenched in blood," Arriga said, noting that Mulgrave was dressed in jeans, a long shirt and socks.

Asked if Arriga detected any odor of alcohol, or if Mulgrave had any difficulty walking, Arriga said, "No."

Arriga said that before placing Mulgrave in his cruiser, he conducted a "pat frisk."

"He had a white string around his neck, which I pulled off," Arriga said.

Woodard handed Arriga a paper evidence bag containing the string. He put on rubber gloves, removed the string from the bag and displayed it.

Jurors were told they would be taken by bus to Haverhill this morning to visit the scene of the crime.

Mary Fidler had previously told The Eagle-Tribune that her daughter Christina Mulgrave, whose maiden name was Foote, was well respected in her field as a high-risk delivery nurse and that she brought many babies into the world safely. She said her daughter had met Craig Mulgrave while she was vacationing in Jamaica, and that she eventually brought him to Las Vegas, where she was working as a nurse. They were married in the summer of 2009 and that December moved to Haverhill so Christina could be close to her two adult children from a previous marriage.

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