Man charged with killing wife in Norwich presented in court

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James F. Hodgdon Jr., who is charged with murdering his wife at their Norwich home on Sept. 7, was appointed a public defender Monday when he made his first appearance in the New London Court where major crimes are tried.

Hodgdon, 56, is accused of fatally shooting Dianna Hodgdon, 58, with a shotgun in their condominium at 6 Forestview Drive.

He appeared in court in handcuffs and shackles and dressed in an orange jumpsuit as members of the victim’s family watched from the gallery. He nodded and smiled at a woman who had come to support him before turning to face the judge.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein appointed attorney M. Fred DeCaprio from the public defender’s office to represent Hodgdon and continued the case to Oct. 8 so that DeCaprio and Hodgdon could discuss whether or not to have a hearing of probable cause. As a defendant in a murder case, he does not have to immediately enter a plea in the case because he is entitled to a probable cause hearing within 60 days of his arrest. At the hearing, prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla would call witnesses and present evidence in an attempt to convince the judge there is enough evidence to prosecute Hodgdon for murder.

According to a police report, Hodgdon, who had worked as a security guard at the Millstone Nuclear Power Station for 26 years, called 911 at 8:09 p.m. to say he had just killed his wife. He was waiting for police outside his home and surrendered when they arrived.

He told police that he had contemplated suicide and had called his supervisor at Millstone and said that if he didn’t show up at work, there were letters in his locker to be sent out. He also posted a “goodbye” on his Facebook page, according to the police report.

Dianna Hodgdon died at the scene of a gunshot wound to the upper torso.

At the scene, Hodgdon said his wife had intentionally pulled over his motorcycle, causing it to fall on its side in an attempt to damage it, according to the police report. He said he was holding the shotgun and it went off accidentally as the couple wrestled for control over it.

Later, at police headquarters, Hodgdon said he had planned to commit suicide. He said his wife had come into the garage and belittled him by calling him names. He said he put the shotgun down against the wall and went into another room to get an overnight bag. He said he heard his wife slamming the shotgun on the ground and went into the garage and told her to stop because the gun was loaded.

He said he grabbed the shotgun and Dianna Hodgdon pulled it from the barrel end with both hands. He said he pulled the gun back, put his finger on the trigger and pulled it.

The victim worked as a receptionist at Antenna Salon in Norwich and as a training specialist for disabled people for Community Enterprises.

Twitter: @KFLORIN



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