NEWPORT, N.H. – A man convicted of beating his wife to death hours after she filed for divorce was sentenced Friday to 30 years to life in prison, shortly after his lawyer read a statement about how much his client missed her.
James Robarge, 45, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Kelly Robarge, 42.
The couple's two daughters spoke tearfully about losing their mother and best friend, but bemoaned the loss of their father as well.
One of Robarge's lawyers read a statement he wrote saying he loves his daughters and misses their mother as much as they do.
Kelly Robarge disappeared from her Charlestown, New Hampshire, home June 27, 2013 -- the day she filed for divorce. Her badly decomposed body was found 10 days later in Unity.
As she returned from court that day, Kelly Robarge texted a friend that her husband was at the Charlestown house they once shared; by that time, James Robarge had moved to Vermont to live with his father because the couple was estranged. The friend asked whether he knew about the divorce filing.
"Not yet. I'm gonna tell him." That was the last Lori Laird heard from her friend.
Prosecutors told jurors during closing arguments that the entryway to Kelly Robarge's home contained "countless" spatters of blood and that James Robarge's disabled car was found several miles from where her body was discovered with a bloodstained trunk and numerous bloody items outside it.
The case was built largely on circumstantial evidence.
The closest thing to an eyewitness was a man who said he saw James Robarge, wearing latex gloves, crouched beside his disabled car on a turnaround in Unity the night Kelly Robarge disappeared. Her body was found off a logging road not far from there, and forensics experts say metal fragments found near an oil-smeared rock on the road matched Robarge's shattered oil pan.
One juror said after the verdict that the oil pan fragments were key to their verdict, with another juror -- a mechanic -- reconstructing the fragments during deliberations.
Because of the condition of her body, a medical examiner could not pinpoint the cause of death or determine how her head and hands became detached but concluded she died as the result of "homicidal violence."
One of the last people to see Kelly Robarge alive was Frances Uptegrove, a physician assistant who had treated her for anxiety and depression for several years. Uptegrove testified that Kelly Robarge told her June 27 that she was heading to court to file for divorce.
"She seemed clear-headed, determined," Uptegrove said. "She'd made up her mind."
In testimony spanning two days, James Robarge showed no emotion as he repeatedly denied threatening or harming his wife. He stared straight ahead when the verdict was announced.
Robarge claimed he didn't know his wife had filed for divorce, but he acknowledged that just days before, he found a letter from her on her kitchen counter saying she wanted one and proposing she get the house.