Murderer’s sentencing pushed back
NASHUA – The sentencing hearing for Joseph Lawrence, the 63-year-old Merrimack man who pleaded guilty last month to shooting and killing his wife in their home a year ago, has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 12, in Hillsborough County Superior Court South.
Assistant state Attorney General John McCormack requested the postponement from the original date of April 27 to accommodate this victim’s family and close friends, who will be unavailable during the last week of April, according to court documents.
Lawrence’s lawyer, Nashua attorney Justin Shepherd, raised no objection to McCormack’s request, which was granted by Judge Jacalyn Colburn.
The sentencing hearing is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. and could last as long as six hours, documents state. Colburn is scheduled to preside over the hearing.
Lawrence in late March filed an intent to plead guilty to one count of reckless second-degree murder, a slightly modified version of the original second-degree murder charge that police filed following lengthy interviews with Lawrence the day and night of April 30, 2015.
The parties agreed to a "capped plea" deal, a format in which prosecutors and defense attorneys recommend to the judge certain minimum and maximum sentencing parameters and leave it to the judge to set the exact sentence.
McCormack, at a brief plea hearing Tuesday, said the state plans to recommend a sentence of 28 years to life in state prison for Lawrence.
Shepherd has not yet disclosed his plans for a sentence recommendation. He said in March that he and his client "are looking forward to sentencing … to present our side in court."
Lawrence’s sentencing comes just over a year after the sudden, brief spate of violence erupted in the couple’s 86 Back River Road home, shocking neighbors and others who knew Lawrence as "very friendly" and "sociable" man.
Although he at first denied shooting his wife of more than 44 years, Darlene Lawrence, Joseph Lawrence eventually told State Police and Merrimack detectives that he "snapped" that morning when she told him she had been having an affair for several years and was moving out of their home by the end of the day.
Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443, dshalhoup@nashua
telegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.