Former security guard pleads guilty to fatally shooting wife in Norwich

James F. Hodgdon Jr., who was headed to trial in New London Superior Court in the fatal shooting of his wife at their Norwich home in 2015, pleaded guilty Thursday to a lesser charge.

Hodgdon, 58, will be sentenced May 3 to 22.5 years in prison, followed by five years of probation, for first-degree manslaughter with a firearm.

He accepted a plea deal worked out during lengthy negotiations between his attorney, M. Fred DeCaprio, and prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla. Judge Hillary B. Strackbein is presiding over the case.  

Hodgdon had rejected an offer in October 2017 to plead guilty in exchange for a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. The case was added to the trial list, but discussions continued.

"There was some evidence that concerned me in terms of our ability to respond (to the charge) effectively," DeCaprio said.

A former security guard for the Millstone Nuclear Power Station, Hodgdon has contended that he accidentally killed Dianna Hodgdon. She was 58.

According to Norwich police, he called 911 at 8:09 p.m. on Sept. 7, 2015, to say he had just killed his wife. He was waiting for police outside their condominium at 6 Forestview Drive and surrendered when they arrived.

He said 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 a police report. He said he was holding a 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 his wife 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. 


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