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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Husband acquitted in death of pregnant wife

Associated Press

WATERLOO, Ill. - A Monroe County jury has acquitted a southern Illinois man accused of killing his pregnant wife two years ago.

The body of 21-year-old Twila Wiley, who had been shot in the head, was found in a creek bed at a park in Waterloo, about 20 miles south of East St. Louis.

After six hours of deliberations Tuesday, the jury cleared James Wiley, 27, of all charges - first-degree murder, intentional homicide of an unborn child, concealing a homicidal death and obstruction of justice.

Wiley did not show any emotion as the verdict was read.

"When reality set in, he was incredibly relieved and very emotional, especially when his family came up (to him)," said Wiley's attorney, John O'Gara.

During the trial, which began last week, Monroe County State's Attorney Kris Reitz accused Wiley of shooting his wife after discovering she had an affair.

Defense attorneys argued that Twila Wiley was depressed and took her own life, shooting herself in the temple with a 9 mm handgun in Konarcik Park on Aug. 7, 2003.

Prosecutors said no evidence pointed to suicide and that Twila Wiley was happy, applying for jobs and looking eagerly to the future. They presented testimony that she had been laughing with friends just hours before she died.

"She's thinking about the future," Reitz said. "She's hardly a despondent woman on the verge of suicide."

Initially, investigators also said they thought the woman's death may have been a suicide. But after hearing evidence showing no gunpowder traces on her hands, a coroner's jury later ruled it a homicide.

Her relatives have said she met James Wiley when she was 14 and he 17. With her parents' permission, the two married two years later. The couple lived with James Wiley's parents until about a week before Twila Wiley's death.


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