Nearly three years after suitcases full of body parts washed up along Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, a nurse who helped infertile women conceive is to go on trial this week on charges that she killed and dismembered her husband.

Melanie McGuire is charged with first-degree murder in the April 2004 killing of her husband, 39-year-old state computer analyst William T. McGuire. She pleaded not guilty and has remained free on $2.1 million bail.

Her trial was scheduled to open Monday at Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, and state Superior Court Judge Frederick DeVesa estimated the proceeding will last four to five weeks.

The judge has instructed lawyers in the case to restrict their comments outside the courtroom.

McGuire, 34, has maintained her innocence, and her lawyer, Stephen Turano, said the state's case is weak.

"What the state did, they very quickly came to a conclusion that it was Melanie McGuire," Turano said. "Anything that suggested she was not involved they ignored or minimized."

He said no decision has been made on whether McGuire will testify.

According to pretrial motions, prosecutors contend McGuire killed her husband in part so she could continue an affair with her boss at a Morristown fertility clinic.

The state will try to prove that McGuire drugged her husband with a sedative on April 29, 2004, shot him in the head and chest and dismembered his body in the bathroom of the Woodbridge apartment they shared with their two preschool sons.

The state says bits of human tissue were found on McGuire's shoes, which "puts her with the body," said Assistant Attorney General Patricia Prezioso, who is prosecuting the case.

Prezioso also is expected to attempt to show that McGuire conducted Internet searches before her husband's disappearance on topics such as using pesticides as poisons, state gun laws and ways to commit murder.

Prezioso claims McGuire bought the pistol used to shoot the victim in Easton, Pa., two days before the slaying, and that she forged a prescription for a powerful sedative.